Attorney General Cuomo Wins Discrimination Settlement For Rochester Workers

ROCHESTER, NY – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo has announced a settlement with the Hess Corporation (“Hess”) (NYSE: HES) resolving complaints of discrimination at a Rochester gas station and requiring the company to pay $94,000 in damages to affected workers.

The settlement follows an investigation by the Attorney General’s office that was prompted by Latino employees who reported Hess was discriminating against them for speaking Spanish. The settlement also requires Hess, the leading independent gasoline retailer on the East Coast, to adopt a non-discrimination language policy.

“No one should have to live under the shadow of discrimination when they go to work,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “This settlement is a victory for these Rochester workers who stood up for their rights and the rights of all people who face discrimination.”

During an open meeting for Rochester citizens hosted by the Attorney General’s office last year, a Latino employee from a Rochester Hess gas station complained that they were being illegally ordered not to speak Spanish among themselves or to Spanish-speaking customers. The Hess employee also complained that their employer later retaliated against employees who voiced their opposition to this policy by transferring a station manager and firing station employees, in violation of both federal and state civil rights laws.

Following these complaints, the Attorney General launched an investigation into Hess, which has over 250 retail marketing facilities in New York State, with over 20 in the Rochester metropolitan area alone.

Under the settlement, Hess will pay $94,000 in restitution, adopt a non-discriminatory policy regarding the languages that its employees may speak at work, and train its managers in New York State to enforce this policy. Hess will also report on the implementation of the policy to the Attorney General’s office during a three-year monitoring period and pay the Attorney General’s office $35,000 for investigation and monitoring costs.

This matter was handled by the Section Chief for the Civil Rights Bureau Julian Birnbaum, Assistant Attorney General Sandra Rodriguez, and Assistant Attorney General Carlos Rodriguez.