In August, Rochester, NY based roofing company, Elmer W. Davis, Inc., agreed to pay $1 million to current and former black employees to settle an EEOC race discrimination lawsuit.
According to dozens of black employees at Elmer W. Davis, they were constantly subjected to racial slurs by their white foremen. Blacks were routinely referred to as “n—-r,” “lazy n—–rs,” “sambo,” “slave,” and “monkey.” Foremen also frequently made comments like, “All n—-rs should get on a boat and go back to Africa.” They were also exposed to nooses and racially offensive graffiti like “dirty n—-r,” “KKK” and swastikas written on the walls of the portable toilets at work sites.
The EEOC lawsuit also charged the roofing company with subjecting African-American employees to disparate treatment in job assignments, claiming that it generally reserved the most difficult, dirty and less desirable jobs for black workers, including “tear off” and “hot tar” jobs, often referred to as the “bull work,” while whites were assigned to detail work and service trucks to conduct repairs.
Black employees were routinely laid off first at the end of the roofing season and called back last in the beginning of the following season, while whites were laid off later and called back earlier.
Elmer W. Davis, Inc., currently led by the founder’s grandson Jeff Davis, is the largest roofing contractor in New York and one of the top 40 largest roofing contractors in the U.S.