Momentum Solar faces a proposed class action that claims the company and its management engaged in systemic racial discrimination against Black workers, fostered a hostile work environment and retaliated against employees who complained.
The lawsuit filed against Pro Custom Solar LLC, which does business as the fast-growing clean energy company Momentum Solar, follows on the heels of at least two previous cases alleging racial discrimination against workers at the defendant’s New York field offices and New Jersey call center. Per the suit, Momentum’s “pervasive and widespread” discriminatory conduct has similarly extended to employees in the company’s New Jersey field installation department, including the five plaintiffs in the case.
According to the suit, Momentum’s Black workers were subjected to “disgusting and racially-hostile conduct,” including the use of racial slurs and references to nooses, at the hands of managers and received significantly lower compensation than the company’s white employees. The lawsuit alleges Momentum has violated both the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
The five plaintiffs in the suit, who all worked out of Momentum’s Cherry Hill, New Jersey location, detail experiences that they say evidence the company’s “deeply rooted, systemic” discrimination against Black employees. Among the examples described by the plaintiffs are instances in which Black employees were repeatedly subjected to racial slurs and an incident during which a foreman reportedly instructed workers during a meeting to tie a rope “like a noose.”
The case goes on to claim that Momentum—“in what appears to be shockingly reminiscent of segregation”—divided employees into teams based on their race. Per the suit, the teams were referred to as the “Spanish team,” “white team” and “Black team.” The plaintiffs claim teams with predominantly Black workers were assigned less preferable jobs than teams with predominantly white workers and therefore were less likely to meet performance objectives and earn bonuses. Likewise, the case says, Black employees were often subjected to harsher punishments than white employees who committed the same or worse rule violations.
The suit further alleges that Momentum intentionally paid white employees higher compensation than equally experienced, qualified and senior Black employees. For example, the plaintiffs claim based on conversations with other workers that white employees received raises that were 300 percent higher than Black employees who were “similarly qualified, experienced, senior and well performing.”
According to the case, Momentum and its managers frequently retaliated against employees who complained about the allegedly discriminatory conduct and have taken no action to address the concerns that have been raised.
The suit claims the accounts described by the plaintiffs are “just some of the discriminatory hostility and mistreatment” faced by Black employees and “not an exhaustive list.” According to the case, the discrimination and hostile work environment continue at Momentum to this day.
The complaint looks to represent all Black field installation development employees, including installers, electricians, roof leads and foremen, who worked for Momentum out of its New Jersey warehouses during the statutory period.
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