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Subcontractor on Apple Campus Sued for Racial Harassment (1)

Nov. 18, 2019, 9:25 PMUpdated: Nov. 19, 2019, 5:34 PM

A subcontractor on Apple Inc.’s Silicon Valley campus was sued by the federal government for alleged racial harassment that included nooses and swastikas left in portable toilets on the construction site.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s lawsuit alleged EMCOR Group Inc.’s Air Systems Inc. failed to take action. The workers were “continuously subjected to racial harassment on the basis of their race,” including graffiti, racial epithets, a noose hung from a sprinkler pipe, and threats of lynching. Air Systems is a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractor.

The “unwelcome, severe or pervasive” harassment continued on a daily basis from June 2016 through at least September 2017 at Apple’s massive campus in Cupertino, Calif.

Air Systems in a Nov. 19 emailed statement said the company has a “zero tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment. Upon learning of these troubling allegations, the Company initiated a comprehensive investigation and took swift corrective actions, and we have cooperated fully with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during its review. We believe, however, that the complaint is without merit and we intend to vigorously defend against this lawsuit.”

Apple was not named as a defendant, and no Apple representative was available for comment.

A worker who complained about the racially hostile work environment was fired, allegedly due to a reduction in force, the Nov. 18 lawsuit filed in San Francisco said.

The case is EEOC v. Air Systems Inc., N.D. Cal., No. 5:19-cv-07574, filed 11/18/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joyce E. Cutler in San Francisco at jcutler@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at thyland@bloomberglaw.com