Parties Settle $150K Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Suit
As reported by AdvanceLocal, a Delaware-based company and a South Carolina-based cleaning company agreed this month to pay US$150,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit.
The suit, brought earlier this year by the U.S. Equality Employment Opportunity Commissions (EEOC), accused Mueller Co. and its cleaning services provider, IH Services, of subjecting three female janitors to a hostile work environment and retaliating against them when they voiced complaints. The workers cited sexual harassment by several male Mueller employees, including inappropriate touching, comments, and solicitation, as well as one instance of attempted rape. Retaliation against the female workers allegedly included docking of hours and termination.
When the complaints were first announced, Mueller denied the accusations in a statement, saying, “At Mueller, in accordance with our core values, we provide a supportive workplace free of harassment and discrimination.”
As part of the agreement, a three-year consent decree requires both companies to review and revise their sexual harassment and retaliation policies, AdvanceLocal reports. They also must prominently post the policies or distribute them to all workers, as well as provide yearly training on the policies to all workers.
“Under Title VII, employers must provide a workplace free from severe or pervasive sexual harassment,” Bradley Anderson, EEOC Birmingham district director, said. “Companies like Mueller do not get a free pass when its employees harass individuals who are employed by another company. Likewise, employers like IH Services are liable for sex harassment of their employees, even when the harasser is not its employee.”