EEOC Charges: Patriot Contracting in Reno, Nevada Retaliates Against a Victim of Sexual Orientation Harassment–and the Cancer Patient Who Stood Up for his Co-Workers

A Patriot Contracting Superintendent subjected an employee to highly offensive racist and homophobic slurs—including the N word and “faggot”—and threats of violence, according to Charges of Discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by two former Patriot employees. When the employee’s colleague stood up for the victim, the Superintendent retaliated against him, including forcing the colleague to perform work that was inappropriate and painful given his previously-disclosed status as a cancer patient, according to his own EEOC Charge.

Twenty-year-old “Kevin” (a pseudonym) had worked for Patriot as an excavator operator for five months when he was transferred to a Reno, Nevada job site supervised by a Superintendent in October 2023. This was one of his first full-time jobs, having graduated high school in 2021. “Martin” (also a pseudonym), a former law enforcement officer and highly experienced construction equipment operator, worked onsite under the Superintendent as well. As explained in the EEOC Charge he filed on March 6, 2024, when he came on board with Patriot, Martin—a valuable prospective employee who had years of relevant experience—had made clear to General Manager Ritchie Jensen that to accept the construction equipment operator position, Patriot would have to guarantee Martin wouldn’t be forced to work as a laborer. Martin had disclosed that he was a cancer patient, taking a daily medication to manage his cancer, which made laborer work painful and infeasible; he further disclosed that a preexisting knee condition also made such work unacceptable. Jensen guaranteed that Martin would only be required to operate construction equipment, not to perform a laborer’s manual work.

Unfortunately, as soon as Kevin moved to the Superintendent’s crew, the Superintendent  began making extremely offensive and upsetting anti-gay slurs and remarks. As outlined in Kevin’s EEOC Charge, on a near-daily basis, the Superintendent would use the slur “faggot”—saying “hello faggot,” “what a faggot,” and similar remarks to Kevin.  Before long, the Superintendent also targeted Kevin, a Native Hawaiian man, with egregious racial slurs—calling him slurs including N*****, monkey, and coon on a daily basis. The Superintendent behaved erratically and threateningly—displaying a gun to Kevin and his coworkers while announcing “this is for anyone that wants to fuck around”—and once placing Kevin in a chokehold with no warning.

Kevin was not the only employee the Superintendent targeted with his outrageous and offensive conduct;  according to his own EEOC Charge, Martin heard the Superintendent make additional offensive remarks to other coworkers, such as telling a female employee, “what, have you got sand in your vagina?” when she raised a concern about an issue on the job, and referring to another non-white coworker as “N***** [his name]” both to that coworker’s face and behind his back.

Disgusted by the Superintendent’s unchecked behavior toward Kevin and other targeted coworkers, Martin complained directly to General Manager Jensen on or around November 13, 2023, giving him specific examples of the slurs the Superintendent was using. Separately, the following day Kevin too complained to Jensen about the Superintendent’s racial and sexual orientation-based harassment of himself.

Kevin and Martin’s EEOC Charges go on to allege that having learned of their complaints, the Superintendent immediately began a campaign of retaliation against both workers. The Superintendent pulled Kevin aside the day after his complaint, demanding to know if “we have a fucking problem.” Kevin struggled to de-escalate him. The Superintendent began excluding Kevin from morning meetings, impairing his ability to do his work. Then he threatened Kevin: when Kevin made a joke about using a boat to haul work materials, the Superintendent retorted, “everyone’s funny until they’re laying on their back bleeding from their head wondering what hit them.” He continued to refer to Kevin as “that faggot excavator” to coworkers.

According to a witness, during a benefits meeting with the crew, the Superintendent loudly and threateningly told the group of employees: “you motherfuckers complain about me, you better come and talk to me like a man.” A Human Resources employee was present in the room at the time—yet she said nothing.

Meanwhile, within two weeks of his own complaint, Martin’s Charge alleges that the Superintendent gave him an unwarranted poor review, and denied him a raise merited by his excellent performance. Every other employee Martin had worked with at the Reno site—most of whom had far less experience—had received the pay raise at their 90-day evaluation. Worse yet, within three weeks of his complaint, and in blatant retaliation for the same, the Superintendent abruptly transferred Martin to work on a pipe laying crew that required him to perform laborer work incompatible with the disabilities he had disclosed from the very start of his employment. At the time the Superintendent transferred him, there was abundant work available for an employee with Martin’s expertise in operating equipment on the site where he had previously been working—in fact, the crew was already short-handed. The laborer work was extremely painful and unsustainable for Martin.

As alleged in their Charges, Kevin and Martin reasonably could not continue working at Patriot under these conditions, and both were forced to resign. Our clients believe that Patriot should be held accountable for its failure to prevent or remedy this egregious harassment and want to ensure others are not forced to endure what they experienced.

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