EEOC Settles Suit against Texas Construction Contractor
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A construction contractor operating at Texas refineries will pay $175,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC’s lawsuit charged Brand Energy Solutions, L.L.C., formerly known as Brand Scaffold Builders, L.L.C., with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting a female employee to sexual harassment and retaliation. The agency said that an operations manager employed by Brand at a Corpus Christi refinery sexually harassed a female timekeeper whom he supervised.
The EEOC said the harassment included subjecting her to repeated unwelcome physical contact, sexual advances and comments; placing lurid images on her work computer; and threatening and intimidating behavior such as throwing objects at her and locking her in a trailer. According to the suit, the woman was forced to quit her job when Brand Scaffold failed to take prompt and appropriate remedial action to address the harassment, as the law requires.
Further, the EEOC charged, Brand retaliated against the woman for complaining about the abuse. After she complained to management she was removed from her work site, placed directly in the harasser's office and was shunned by the other employees. She was told by co-workers and at least one Brand manager that whistleblowers never keep their jobs.
Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division (Civil Action No. 2:08-cv-00305) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court.
In addition to providing $175,000 in monetary damages, the consent decree resolving this case enjoins Brand from discriminating against employees based on sex or retaliating against employees for opposing unlawful employment practices. It also provides for the implementation of an effective anti-discrimination policy and anti-discrimination training for Brand’s employees.
“The law requires employers to take reasonable steps to prevent such sexual harassment,” said David Rivela, senior trial attorney of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “We will continue to actively prosecute cases where employees are subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. We are glad that Brand was willing to resolve this matter.”
Judith G. Taylor, supervisory trial attorney of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office, added, “Employees have the right to work in an environment that is free from sexual harassment. They also have a right to complain about unlawful discrimination without the fear of being terminated. We believe all Brand’s employees will benefit from the new policy and the training the company’s employees will undergo.”
In Fiscal Year 2008, 13,867 sexual harassment charges were filed with the EEOC and state or local agencies nationwide, an increase of 11 percent from the prior year and the highest level since FY 2002.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.