The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PRESS RELEASE
8-13-09

EEOC SUES METAL PRODUCTS COMPANY UNIVERSAL BRIXIUS FOR SEX DISCRIMINATION

Female Employee Treated Differently From Male Co-Workers, Federal Agency Says

MILWAUKEE – A machine parts manufacturer formerly located in Milwaukee, Universal Brixius, LLC, violated federal law by subjecting a female employee to different terms and conditions of employment and by firing her because of her sex, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed here in federal court.

The agency conducted an administrative investigation, supervised by EEOC Chicago District Director John Rowe, prior to filing the lawsuit. According to Rowe, the investigation revealed that Jeanne Johnston, who had been a successful machine operator for the company since October 2002, was discriminated against after being transferred to a light duty position following a work-related injury in August 2007. As the only woman in her assignment in the tool crib, Rowe said, Johnston was subjected to sexist name calling, denied overtime, and disparaged by her supervisor to her fellow employees. Eventually, when she requested an overdue performance appraisal, she was laid off on June 27, 2008 -- the only employee at the plant to be laid off at that time. The EEOC reached an administrative determination that the employer laid off Johnston because of her sex.

Sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its statutory conciliation process. The agency seeks compensatory and punitive damages for Johnston, in addition to an order barring future discrimination and other relief. The suit, captioned EEOC v. Universal Brixius, LLC (Civil Action No. 09-C-0774), was filed August 11, 2009, in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee and assigned to U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert.

“This type of personnel practice appears to EEOC to be a classic violation of federal employment discrimination law, and it has resulted in legal action by the government,” said District Director Rowe.

John Hendrickson, the EEOC regional attorney for the Chicago District, said, “In recent years, women have made progress in getting through the door of workplaces long dominated by men. It really has been a new day as far as access is concerned. But what happens to women once they have gained access to the workplace is not always acceptable -- or legal. That’s why the EEOC continues to get involved in cases like this one.”

Universal Brixius is a unit of MIC Group, LLC, which defines itself on its web site as a specialty manufacturing group, headquartered in Brenhem, Texas.

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

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.


This page was last modified on August 13, 2009.

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