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PRESS RELEASE
2-9-12

North Texas Air Conditioning Company Settles EEOC Sexual Harassment Suit Just Before Trial

Federal Agency Said Only Female Employee in Hobson Air Conditioning’s Kennedale Facility Was Sexually Harassed by Top Manager

DALLAS – Weatherford, Texas-based Hobson Air Conditioning, Inc. has settled a sexual harassment and constructive discharge lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the day before the case was to be presented to a jury, the federal agency announced today. The settlement pays the discrimination victim in this case $37,500 and provides extensive injunctive relief to prevent future unlawful conduct.

The EEOC’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division (3:10-CV-0818-L), charged that Hobson Air Conditioning subjected former installation coordinator Misty Kratky, the only female employee at Hobson’s Kennedale facility, to a sexually hostile work environment. According to the EEOC, Kratky’s manager subjected her to sexually vulgar comments and touches soon after she was hired, including, but not limited to, repeatedly asking Kratky to show him her breasts, making crude sexual demands on her and even exposing himself to her on multiple occasions. The EEOC said that Kratky reported the harassment to higher management, but nothing was done to stop the harassing conduct or to impose any disciplinary action on the harasser. The agency said that as a result of the company’s failure to conduct an investigation of her report and the continuation of the unwanted conduct, Kratky had no choice but to quit.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. Austin, Texas, attorneys Elias Lorenzana and Robert Rice intervened in the EEOC's case on Ms. Kratky’s behalf.

In addition to monetary relief, the five-year consent cecree settling the suit, signed by U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay on February 8, requires the company to:

  • revise its sexual harassment policy and procedures to provide multiple avenues for reporting harassment;
  • conduct annual training for five years on the laws against sexual harassment and the proper procedure for investigating complaints;
  • report to the EEOC any complaints of sexual harassment for the next five years and post an anti-discrimination notice; and
  • place in the personnel file of the alleged harasser a notice reflecting the sexual harassment complaint.

“To have a manager subject a subordinate employee to such mistreatment has the potential to establish the acceptance of such behavior in the workplace,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Devika Seth, the lead attorney on the case. “We hope this settlement shows that there will be accountability when such an abuse of power occurs. We are proud that Ms. Kratky came forward and asserted her right to work in a harassment-free environment.”

EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Toby Wosk Costas said, “As the only female employee in her office, Ms. Kratky was targeted for this crude and disturbing behavior on the work premises. Women in traditionally male-dominated fields can sometimes face an uphill battle when it comes to reporting and remedying unwelcome sexual conduct on the job, and the EEOC is here to help.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws that prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.