N.J. school accused of rejecting black student 2 weeks before graduation to pay $34K settlement

By Jeff Goldman | The Star-Ledger
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on July 14, 2014

A sheet metal worker in a northern New Jersey building in this Star-Ledger file photo


An apprenticeship school affiliated with a New Jersey trade union has settled a claim of racial discrimination for $34,500.

The Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) of Sheet Metal Workers Local 25 allegedly let go of a black apprentice two weeks before he was to graduate from a four-year apprenticeship program, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today.

The JATC has denied it discriminated against the apprentice, its attorney Bennet D. Zurofsky said in an email. The organization voluntarily entered into a consent decree, Zurofsky added.

The JATC was not found to have discriminated and no court entered an order requiring it to provide a remedy.

The apprentice had completed all the requirements to that point and was nearing the end of the eight-term program when he would be promoted to journeyman status, the EEOC said.

The man had previously complained about inadequate training from "biased contractors," the EEOC said in a release.

The settlement was approved by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In addition to the financial settlement, the JATC was asked to make significant improvements to how trainees are evaluated and to keep apprentices up to date on their progress.

The EEOC said it intends to monitor the school's compliance with the court orders.

"The EEOC is pleased that Local 25 JATC worked with us to reach this settlement, which will benefit not only the individual who was harmed but all apprentices who come after him," EEOC New York District Office Director Kevin Berry said.

Local 25 is based in Carlstadt. It represents workers in Essex, Bergen, Passaic, Hudson Union, Morris, Somerset and Sussex counties.

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