Investigators are seeking the person or persons responsible for racist graffiti in the office of an African-American foreman at the nearly completed Las Vegas Convention Center expansion project.
The Las Vegas Convention Center and Visitors Authority said in a statement that it “is outraged and condemns this deplorable act, as there’s absolutely no place for racism in our community."
The $980-million project's prime construction contractor, a joint venture of Turner Construction Co. and Martin-Harris Construction, has offered a reward for what the convention center authority described as "credible information that leads to identifying" those responsible.
Turner/Martin-Harris says it is conducting an internal investigation and working with local police. The joint venture paused work on the project to conduct anti-bias training. "We suspended work to send a message about how serious we take this behavior and to provide time for every worker on the site to participate," the company stated.
Among measures Turner is considering are increased inspections and surveillance cameras, said a spokesman. The company has said it has zero tolerance and that all employees deserve a "safe, welcoming environment when they come to work."
The convention center project, slated to finish in December, is adding a 600,000-sq-ft exhibit hall and 80 additional meeting rooms.
The project team released few other details about the graffiti or investigation. Neither the convention center nor the prime contracting team would say exactly where the foreman's office was located, citing the police investigation.
Racism and bias have taken on fresh significance since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the protests over police brutality and an overall reckoning about racial injustice.
Recent Bias-Related Complaints
Recent federal lawsuits have targeted jobsite racism. For example, San Jose, Calif.-based Air Systems Inc., an electrical contractor, was compelled to pay $1.25 million to eight Black former employees to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the racial harassment included graffiti of swastikas and racial epithets drawn on the walls of the portable toilets at a big construction project in Cupertino, Calif. At the worksite, employees also encountered a noose hung next to a scrawled note containing other expletives, and a threat of lynching, the EEOC announced, and the company failed to act when notified by two African-American employees that a white co-worker had taunted them with racial pejoratives.
Air Systems, whose parent company is Norwalk, Conn.-based Emcor Inc., said in a statement that the company was satisfied to have reached a resolution with the EEOC. The company's president, Art Williams, said it investigated and took swift corrective action when it learned of "these troubling allegations."
The company "will use this experience as an opportunity to reaffirm our values, advance our anti-discriminatory policies and practices, and ensure every employee feels welcome," he added.
Another recent EEOC lawsuit targeted alleged bullying, threats and racial slurs directed toward Black employees of CCC Group Inc., during a now-complete cement plant modernization near Albany, N.Y. In a lawsuit filed June 2 against the San Antonio, Texas-based general contractor, EEOC claimed that CCC Group employees faced racial epithets and symbols and other forms of harassment.
EEOC says the conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and exemplifies “unlawful employment practices.”
Project contractor CCC Group denies the allegations made in the complaint and says its management was not made aware of any incidents until after the project was completed.