Company Fired Male Who Reported Sex Harassment by Male Co-Worker, EEOC Charges In Lawsuit
DALLAS — MKB Construction, Inc. violated federal law by firing a worker for reporting sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
The EEOC alleged in its suit that commercial subcontractor MKB Construction, Inc. (MKB) fired painter David Morales for reporting sexual harassment on the job. Morales worked at the company’s Fort Bliss jobsite, located at the army base in El Paso, Texas. According to the EEOC, a male co-worker opened the door of a portable toilet Morales was using and stared at him, later threatening to rape him. The co-worker also grabbed him and simulated a sexual act.
Morales, who worked a distance from the trailer that served as an office, waited until the end of the day to walk the 25-minute distance to the trailer to report the harassment. After urging him not to call the military police, MKB management fired Morales the next morning, alleging that he was at fault for not having reported the offense before the end of his shift.
Discharging an employee because he reports discrimination, including sexual harassment, violates the anti-retaliation provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC investigated the case and then filed suit, Case No. 3:11- CV-00404-KC in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, including the formulation of policies to prevent and correct retaliatory treatment as well as damages for Morales and punitive damages against MKB.
“Employees—whether men or women--should feel encouraged to report sex harassment at work without repercussions of any kind,” said Toby Wosk Costas, supervisory trial attorney for the Dallas District Office. “In this case, reporting male-on-male sexual harassment on the job led to the loss of employment. The EEOC filed suit so that other employees do not have to fear reporting these kinds of incidents in the future.”
“The excuse made by this employer for firing a worker who simply sought to shield himself from unacceptable conduct sends a terrible message,” said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. “When Mr. Morales hoped to avail himself of MKB’s alleged ‘open door’ policy, he could not have known the company would be showing him out the same door the next day.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.