Jewish brothers win settlement for alleged harassment at Harford office

$115,000 award over reported verbal, physical abuse

March 18, 2010|By Gus G. Sentementes | gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

Two Jewish brothers won a $115,000 settlement from a Texas-based human resources firm after alleging that they endured religious-based harassment - including verbal and physical abuse - while they worked at an office in Harford County, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday.

Brothers Scott and Joseph Jacobson detailed several complaints, including being called "dirty Jew," "dumb Jew," "stupid Jew" and other anti-Semitic slurs by managers and co-workers while working at an office for Conn-X LLC, a cable TV service provider in Edgewood.

Scott Jacobson also said in court papers that his work vehicle was defaced with a swastika symbol, and that he was thrown into a trash bin, tied to a fence and shot at with BBs.

The brothers, who could not be located for comment, said in court papers they complained to Conn-X and Administaff Inc., a Texas-based company that oversaw human resources at Conn-X. But they said the companies didn't take action to correct a "hostile work environment," according to court documents. They first reported their complaints in September 2008, but the harassment had been occurring since 2005, the EEOC said.

According to a settlement reached this week, Administaff denied that it violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination against employees based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

In a statement Wednesday, Administaff officials said the brothers never complained to them, but the company launched an investigation as soon as it learned of their allegations.

"When Administaff first learned about the complaint of religious discrimination, it immediately began an investigation," wrote Jason Cutbirth, an Administaff spokesman. "Soon after learning of these allegations, Administaff ended its co-employer relationship with Conn-X."

Cutbirth said the company settled the case for an amount that was "far less" than the cost of continued litigation.

The brothers' case against Conn-X remains open. Officials with Conn-X could not be reached for comment.

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