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EEOC Sues Johnson Controls, Inc. and Manpowergroup US, Inc. for Sexual Harassment, Retaliation

 Manufacturing Company and Temporary Staffing Agency Subjected an Employee to Sexual Harassment and Retaliation, Federal Agency Charges

ST. LOUIS - Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) and ManpowerGroup US, Inc. (Manpower) violated federal law when they fired a female employee who complained about sexual harassment at a JCI manufacturing facility in Norman, Okla., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the lawsuit, a female temporary employee worked on an HVAC production line at a JCI facility through a staffing contract with Manpower. A male JCI employee began harassing the woman in early 2018, graphically describing his sexual encounters with women, repeatedly threatening sexual assault and making belittling comments about women. The male employee also told her he wanted to have sex with her teenage daughter. The female employee complained to a Manpower supervisor, but Manpower took no action to prevent and stop the harassment. JCI and Manpower then fired the woman after she provided a written statement describing the harassment. JCI claimed they fired the female employee for misconduct, but a male coworker accused of similar conduct was not disciplined.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964 which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and retaliating against an employee for reporting it., The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Johnson Controls, Inc. and ManpowerGroup US, Inc., Civil Action No. 5:19-cv-00904) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The agency seeks monetary damages, training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of anti-discrimination notices at the worksite, and other injunctive relief.

"Employers cannot attempt to avoid liability for workplace harassment by using temporary staffing services," said Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC regional attorney in St. Louis. "Staffing companies have a responsibility to protect their workers from harassment and retaliation, too."

L. Jack Vasquez, Jr., director of the EEOC's St. Louis District Office, said, "Employers should be aware of how - and how not - to respond when an employee reports unwelcome harassment. Companies are obligated to stop the harassment and ensure workers who report unwelcome conduct are protected from retaliation, even if they are staffed through a temporary agency."

The EEOC's St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.