United Air Temp / Air Conditioning & Heating, Inc. Sued By EEOC For Race Discrimination

ALEXANDRIA , Va. – United Air Temp / Air Conditioning & Heating, Inc., located in Lorton, Va., violated federal law by discriminating against non-Caucasian employees based on their race by paying them less than at least one Caucasian colleague, the U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. United Air Temp, which provides preventive maintenance for residential and commercial heating and air conditioning systems, has approximately 247 employees at 13 locations within Florida, Georgia, the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and Maryland.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, from around Feb. 1, 2001, until around April 20, 2006, Patricia Burch, who is African-American, and other non-Caucasian telemarketers were paid less than a Caucasian telemarketer because of their race. The lawsuit alleges that Burch was one of ten telemarketers employed by United Air Temp in Lorton. According to the EEOC, a Caucasian telemarketer who performed the same job, or a substantially similar job as Burch and other non-Caucasian telemarketers, made a higher hourly wage than the non-Caucasian telemarketers. The EEOC’s complaint further charged that Burch complained to United Air Temp’s management about the pay disparity to no avail. Burch’s base salary remained the same until her separation from United Air Temp around April 20, 2006.

Race discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division (EEOC v. United Air Temp, Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-281) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages and injunctive relief.

“Pay equity is a basic tenet of equal opportunity in the workplace,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District office. “The unfortunate reality is that some employers continue to base employee salaries on race instead of fair and equitable factors such as the quality of their work. Employers must treat employees of all races equally.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available at its website at www.eeoc.gov.