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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Pipefitters Association Local Union 597
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
334 F.3d 656 (2003)
Eight Black pipefitters (the pipefitters) worked for contractor Foster Wheeler Constructors (the contractor) (defendant) and belonged to Pipefitters Association Local Union 597 (the union) (defendant). At their worksite, the pipefitters encountered graffiti with racial slurs and death threats, a Ku Klux Klan poster in a trailer used for breaks, and a noose. Dennis Hahney was both the union steward for the contractor’s project and the contractor’s superintendent of pipefitting. Hahney was aware of the graffiti but did not instruct a foreman to paint over it until James Ferguson (plaintiff) complained about graffiti that explicitly mentioned Ferguson. Another union official at the worksite had personally ordered people to paint over graffiti of genitalia, but he made no effort to get rid of the racist graffiti that he was aware of. The pipefitters did not report the hostile environment to the union, aside from Ferguson’s specific complaint to Hahney. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (plaintiff) brought a lawsuit on the pipefitters’ behalf under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and Ferguson intervened in the lawsuit as a plaintiff. The contractor settled. The EEOC and Ferguson prevailed against the union at a bench trial, and the judge awarded compensatory damages, punitive damages, and an injunction against the union’s allowance of a racially hostile work environment at any of its members’ job sites. The union appealed, conceding that the work environment was racially hostile but contesting that the union was not responsible for the worksite’s racial hostility.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Posner, J.)
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