Six former employees have put their names on a proposed class action in which they allege management at fast-growing clean energy company Momentum Solar has fostered a work environment “permeated with vile racism,” and has fired those who complain about the use of racial slurs.
According to the lawsuit out of New York federal court, management at Pro Custom Solar, LLC, which does business as Momentum Solar, has regularly directed racial slurs at black employees while paying the workers “far less than similarly situated white employees.” Moreover, black employees, according to the lawsuit, are ostracized by the defendants, assigned to less-desirable jobs, and deprived of opportunities for career advancement.
The lawsuit describes situations in which each plaintiff was on the receiving end or within direct earshot of racially derogatory language. The plaintiffs say they told Momentum management that they were uncomfortable with the language and did not want to work in an environment that allowed for racially motivated language. The plaintiffs’ complaints, however, led only to their abrupt terminations, removal from certain jobs, or transfer to “menial” or more difficult assignments, the suit says.
The plaintiffs also make claims for wage and hour violations. According to the suit, the plaintiffs and similarly situated field installation department workers were, among other abuses, not reimbursed for purchasing tools and other essential work-related equipment. Further, the case claims proposed class members had 30 minutes of compensable time deducted from their pay each day despite being prevented from taking uninterrupted meal breaks due to the nature of their jobs.
In astatementfrom a Momentum Solar spokesperson to Law360, the company said “there is no basis in law or fact for the claims asserted” in the lawsuit. The company added:
“The six disgruntled former hourly employees were terminated for legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons including unacceptable workplace behavior, fighting, poor performance, failure to show up for work and violations of material company policies and procedures. The company intends to vigorously defend all claims.”