Colindres v. Quietflex Manufacturing Company

All workers, regardless of their race or national origin, should be treated equally in the workplace. Latino employees at Quietflex Manufacturing Company, a Houston based company that manufactures air conditioning ducts, claimed they were not treated equally. Instead, they were segregated in a department with the harshest work conditions, denied transfers, limited in their opportunities for advancement, and paid at substantially lower rates than non-Latino workers. Other workers held similarly-skilled positions in other departments with more favorable working conditions. The Latino workers asserted they were segregated in the workplace based on their inability to speak English and communicate with the supervisors in other departments.

In 2001, MALDEF filed a Title VII class action lawsuit representing approximately 78 Latino employees of Quietflex. In January 2007, the parties entered into a final Consent Decree that awarded MALDEF’s clients $2.8 million. The company did not admit liability. As part of the Consent Decree, Defendants and Plaintiffs agreed to develop a test that would measure objectively whether prospective applicants to the favored department at the plant could communicate a limited number of basic English phrases necessary for safety and production in that department.

MALDEF subsequently challenged the initial communication test developed by Quietflex, arguing that the test was an English proficiency test, as opposed to the very basic communication test intended under the terms of the Consent Order. In November 2007, MALDEF filed a Motion to Enforce Consent Decree and requested that the Court order Quietflex to create a test that complies with the Consent Decree. The Motion to Enforce is currently pending before the district court and the parties are working towards the development of a final, agreed-upon communication test.

MALDEF is committed to ensuring that workers are not discriminated against on the basis of their race and national origin and not held back by unfair treatment.

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Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund