Capital Region developer settles lawsuit claiming racism

Former Redburn construction workers also alleged toxic workplace

Redburn Development's Jeff Buell with 43 Columbia Street
Redburn Development's Jeff Buell with 43 Columbia Street (Loopnet, Redburn Development, Getty)

A prominent Capital Region real estate company settled a federal lawsuit filed three months ago by four former construction workers who alleged racism and the fostering of a toxic workplace.

Redburn Property Services, an arm of Troy-based Redburn Development, settled the civil rights suit on Wednesday, the Times Union reported. Terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.

In November, four former construction workers filed a complaint in federal court, alleging a myriad of issues at the workplace. Allegations included the use of slurs and lesser pay for Black employees. 

Supervisors allegedly created an all-Black detail at one site, referring to it as the “felony crew,” according to court documents. One manager allegedly told another supervisor to “get his monkeys in line.”

Beyond racism, other accusations involve the creation of a dangerous work environment. The workers, who had all departed the company by April, claimed they were denied safety equipment and threatened with termination if they disclosed a positive test for the coronavirus. Each plaintiff said they were fired in retaliation for complaining about the alleged treatment.

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The Redburn subsidiary was named in the lawsuit, as were five supervisors.

Redburn principal Jeff Buell released a statement after the settlement was filed, saying, “We are not a racist organization. I also know we can be better.” The employees named in the suit are no longer with the firm, Buell added.

Redburn is behind the development of prominent projects in the Capital Region area, including The Kennedy Apartments in Albany, which was referenced as the site of a drug-fueled property in the lawsuit.

Redburn is also redeveloping Albany’s Central Warehouse, one of the biggest projects in the firm’s history. The 11-story, 500,000-square-foot building has sat vacant for years. Despite previous attempts to revamp the property, it remains one of the state capital’s ugliest eyesores.

Holden Walter-Warner

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