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PRESS RELEASE
9-28-10

Roberts Truck Center Sued by EEOC for Sex Harassment and Retaliation

Co-Worker Harassed Women in Farmington Facility, Federal Agency Charges

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Roberts Truck Center of New Mexico, LLC and other related Roberts entities, doing business as Roberts Truck Center in Farmington, N.M., which operates a truck sales, parts sales and service business, violated federal law by subjecting a class of women to sexual harassment and retaliating against one woman for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on September 27.

In its suit, the EEOC said that a co-worker employed by Roberts subjected Katherine Abernathy and a class of women, including at least three others, to sexual harassment. The women were subjected to pervasive sexual comments and innuendo and unwelcome touching or attempted touching of their bodies, which created a hostile work environment for them. The EEOC also charged that Abernathy suffered retaliation with respect to sales opportunities and in the terms and conditions of her employment because she opposed the sexual harassment. Finally, EEOC charges that Abernathy was fired in January, 2009 because she opposed the unlawful employment practices and/or because of her sex, female.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment and retaliation against individuals who file internal complaints, file charges of discrimination, or otherwise oppose discriminatory employment practices and/or participate in proceedings under Title VII. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Roberts Truck Center of New Mexico, LLC, Roberts Truck Center of Kansas, LLC, Roberts Truck Center of Oklahoma, LLC, Roberts Truck Center of Texas, LLC, Roberts Truck Center, Ltd., and Roberts Truck Center Holding Company, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-00904-JCH-RLP) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah, said, “We continue to see a significant number of sexual harassment cases throughout our district, including in smaller communities such as Farmington. We are particularly concerned when employers fail to protect women from harassment in male-dominated workplaces and then retaliate against them after they complain. The EEOC will prosecute such cases vigorously.”

The lawsuit asks the court to order the Roberts Truck Center entities to provide all the affected women with appropriate relief, including back wages for Abernathy; compensatory and punitive damages; and to grant a permanent injunction enjoining the company from engaging in any gender-discriminatory practice. The EEOC also asks the court to order the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

“Our investigation revealed that a co-worker of these women was permitted to harass them and Roberts Truck Center managers did not act promptly to provide corrective relief,” said EEOC Acting Phoenix District Director Rayford Irvin. “Employers have an important responsibility to protect their employees from sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace. In this case, the EEOC, after an investigation, found that this employer failed to do so. It will now have to answer for its conduct in court.”

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