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PRESS RELEASE
3-19-10

$35,000 Consent Decree Resolves EEOC Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Against Former Milwaukee Machine Tool Company

Universal Brixius Harassed and Denied Equal Treatment to Woman Because of Gender, Federal Agency Charged

MILWAUKEE – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that Federal Magistrate Judge Aaron Goodstein has signed a consent decree under which a former manufacturing and machining company in Milwaukee will pay $35,000 to end a sex discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the EEOC’s suit, Universal Brixius, LLC, now known as MIC Group, LLC, created a sexually hostile work environment in the tool crib and tool room areas of its Milwaukee facility by daily subjecting Jeanne Johnston, the only female employee in that area of the facility, to derogatory remarks and vulgar comments based on her sex. The EEOC also charged that Johnston was denied routine overtime that her male coworkers enjoyed and was burdened with more onerous conditions placed on her use of paid time off.

Universal Brixius, LLC was a manufacturing and machining facility in Milwaukee. On December 31, 2008, some six months after Johnston was terminated, Universal Brixius, LLC ceased to exist and was merged into MIC Group, LLC.

In addition to requiring Universal Brixius to pay $35,000 to Johnston, the three-year consent decree resolving the case enjoins MIC Group, LLC, Universal Brixius’ parent company, and its employees from engaging in sex discrimination of any kind.

“This was an important case for the EEOC, as a procedural matter, because it resulted in one of the first decisions applying the recent decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal (129 S.Ct. 1937 [2009]), which dealt with the degree of specificity required of a pleading,” said John Hendrickson, the EEOC regional attorney for the Chicago District, which includes Wisconsin. “As the court noted, a claim that ‘a female employee was denied overtime, restricted in her use of her vacation time, subjected to derogatory epithets, male employees were told to avoid her, and she was eventually terminated all because of her sex’ is sufficient to state a violation of the law.”

The EEOC’s lawsuit was filed August 11, 2009, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. (EEOC v. Universal Brixius, LLC. n/k/a MIC Group, LLC., No. 09-C-77).

In addition to Hendrickson, the EEOC was represented by Associate Regional Attorney Jean P. Kamp and Trial Attorney Camille Monahan.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.