EEOC Said Utilities Contractor Refused to Hire Women As Laborers
PHILADELPHIA -- A Plymouth Meeting, Pa., utility contractor which specializes in the telephone, gas, electrical and water industries has agreed to pay $200,000 and furnish significant remedial relief to settle a federal sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In its lawsuit, filed in July 2008, the EEOC alleged that Danella Construction Corporation of Pennsylvania, a subsidiary of Danella Companies, refused to allow Lisa Drozdowski to apply to a laborer position because of her sex. Drozdowski, of Levittown, Pa., worked as a flagger for Danella and assisted the crew by also performing laborer duties. The EEOC charged that despite her good job performance, company supervisors repeatedly rejected her attempts to apply for a substantially higher-paying laborer position and even advised her that female employees cannot be laborers.
The EEOC asserted that other female employees were not hired as laborers because of their sex while the company hired male applicants with little or no experience as laborers. The agency also charged that the company failed to provide portable restroom facilities at some work sites, which sometimes forced women to urinate outside in public.
According to the lawsuit, after Drozdowski complained about discriminatory treatment, Danella, in retaliation for her complaint, drastically reduced her work hours and then stopped assigning her any work even though the company continued to hire applicants for flagger positions.
Sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII also protects employees from being retaliated against for complaining about discrimination. The EEOC attempted to reach a voluntary settlement prior to filing suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Civil Action No. 08-3349).
The two-year consent decree settling the case will provide $150,000 in monetary relief to Drozdowski and $50,000 to four other class members. The consent decree also provides substantial equitable relief, including enjoining Danella from discriminating based on sex or retaliation and requiring Danella to make adequate portable toilets available for all its female employees at its work sites. Danella must also provide annual training for all managers and supervisors at its Plymouth Meeting facility regarding employee rights and employer responsibilities under Title VII, and post a notice regarding the settlement. Danella did not admit liability in the consent decree, which is pending judicial approval.
District Director Marie M. Tomasso of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio, said,
“Even in traditionally male-dominated fields like the construction industry, employers must give qualified female applicants and employees equal opportunities to compete for and receive higher-paying positions.”
Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which handled the litigation, said, “We commend Danella for taking these proactive measures, including having adequate restroom facilities at its construction sites, to ensure that female employees are treated with the dignity that all employees deserve.”
Danella Companies have offices located in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Florida, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Virginia. Further information about the company is available on its web site at www.danella.com.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.