Orion Construction L.P. is being sued for race discrimination by an African-American former employee.
Jeffrey Powe filed a charge of race discrimination with the EEOC on November 12, 2010. On January 30, 2013, the EEOC issued a Right to Sue letter, and Powe filed the race discrimination lawsuit in Texas Southern District Court on April 28, 2013.
According to the complaint, Powe completed a diving and welding training while in prison, and Orion offered Powe a job as an underwater welder.
When Powe began working at Orion’s Houston facility, he claims he was shocked at the racially hostile work environment that existed at Orion’s work site. Powe alleges that employees and bosses “openly used racist slurs and engaged in racist banter without hesitation” on a daily and ongoing basis.
Powe claims that, unlike his white counterparts, he did not receive a pay increase after his initial 90 days of employment.
According to Powe, after Powe and Orion’s other African-American employees (whom had a felony) had worked long enough for Orion to collect the maximum tax credit allowed for employing them, the company began terminating them.
Powe was terminated in March 2010, and Orion explained that it terminated him because he had not yet received his TWIC card.
A TWIC card is a biometric credential that ensures only vetted workers are eligible to gain unescorted access to secure areas of a Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA)-regulated port or vessel, where some of Powe’s assignments were located.
Powe claims that Orion did not terminate any white employees who had not obtained their TWIC cards.