BROOKLYN — Photography giant B&H has agreed to fork over $3.2 million to settle discrimination and harassment claims at its Brooklyn Navy Yard warehouse.
The retailer had been accused of racist and sexist discrimination against job hunters and of hiring only Hispanic men for entry-level positions. Regulators also said B&H Photo & Electronics Corp. paid Hispanics significantly less than their colleagues and refused to give them promotions, according to the federal Department of Labor.
“Federal contractors who benefit from taxpayers’ dollars are required to treat their employees fairly, or risk losing their government contracts,” Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey Rogoff said.
“We are pleased that B&H [Photo] entered into this agreement, and has committed to ensuring that their workers will receive equitable wages and opportunities, and enjoy a workplace that promotes equal employment opportunity.”
Under the settlement, B&H will pay more than $3 million in back wages and other financial relief to more than 1,300 impacted workers.
It will also hire a workplace consultant to oversee employment practices and conduct at the Navy Yard. Managers will also now undergo annual training on equal opportunity principles and harassment prevention, the DOL said.
More than 70 immigrant warehouse workers rallied outside Gracie Mansion last week to blast Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “complicity in the destruction of over 300 union jobs” at B&H’s two Brooklyn warehouses.
Labor organizers said city officials are planning to turn over the Navy Yard warehouse to Steiner Studios while B&H also shutters its Bushwick Avenue location later this month to move operations to New Jersey.
“Mayor de Blasio is trying to get Latinos and union members to support his re-election while B&H carries out a union-busting, job-destroying campaign at the warehouses, one of them in the City-owned Brooklyn Navy,” union organizer Mahoma Lopez said.
Despite agreeing to the settlement, the corporation maintained its innocence.
"We settled to avoid the distraction of litigation," company spokesman Henry Posner said.
"As a government contractor, we determined settlement was in our best interest. B&H is pleased that this issue has been resolved, and we are confident that we have the measures in place to comply with all federal hiring and employment law."