Monitors of Employer's Compliance With Consent Decree Submit Final Report Finding 'Company Today Is a Different and Far Better Workplace'
CHICAGO - International Services, Inc. (ISI), formerly known as International Profit Associates, Inc. (IPA), based in Buffalo Grove, Ill., last week funded a final mailing of checks to 82 women whom the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said were victims of egregious sexual harassment at the company.
The payment was provided for by a consent decree resolving the EEOC's long-running sexual harassment case against the company, which was filed in federal court in Chicago on June 12, 2001 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (EEOC v. International Profit Associates, N.D. Ill. No. 01-CV-4427). The parties agreed to the court's entry of the decree just as the trial was set to begin, on June 6, 2010. Under the decree, ISI was required to pay $8 million in installments to the harassment victims. The average of all payments per victim was approximately $100,000, and the last checks were mailed March 7, 2014.
In addition to the requirement that the company provide monetary relief for the victims, the consent decree included injunctions against sexual harassment and retaliation, and a series of measures designed to promote the eradication of harassment and increase the accountability of managers. It also required that ISI pay for two outside independent monitors, Nancy Kreiter and George Galland, to review policies and practices with respect to sexual harassment, evaluate the implementation of those policies and practices, assess the company's compliance with the training, prevention, and other measures being imposed, accept complaints of sexual harassment from employees, and report to the EEOC and the court.
The final report issued by the compliance monitors, Kreiter and Galland, was filed in federal district court on March 10, 2014, and describes a company transformed as a result of the lawsuit. The report describes "drastic improvements in the workplace environment." The newly revamped human resources department at the company is described by employees interviewed by the monitors as "proactive with clear standards, policies and procedures to follow, highly professional, accessible, responsive and markedly changed for the best."
"By all accounts," the monitors report, "the Company today is a different and far better workplace than it was . . . three years ago." They give much of the credit to John Andes, the executive director of human resources at ISI, hired well after the EEOC's lawsuit was filed.
"The consent decree in this case was instrumental in bringing about the sort of workplace transformation EEOC strives for when it litigates," said John Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago, said. "First, it reflected the determination of company management, after years of fruitless litigation, to chart a new course. Second, it provided the monetary and injunctive relief necessary both to compensate the discrimination victims and to retool the company's policies and practices for a new approach to workforce management, including the elimination of discrimination. Third, it assured that a monitor, Nancy Kreiter--who has accumulated a wealth of experience in monitoring decrees and helping employers recover from rampant discrimination--would be inside the facility over and over and over again, making sure that what needed correction got corrected."
Diane Smason, the EEOC supervisory trial attorney on the case, added, "It looks to us like the terms of the consent decree and the work of the monitors were enhanced by the addition of John Andes to ISI's management team. He seems to have brought a new way of doing business to the company's management of its human resources and to have assured that the company would realize the maximum possible benefit from the changes mandated by the consent decree and monitors.
The EEOC Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.