Supervisor on Road Construction Crew Harassed Two Women, Federal Agency Charges
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Fisher Sand & Gravel Co., which engages in business activities related to road construction, violated federal law by subjecting a class of women to sexual harassment and firing one woman for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
In its suit, the EEOC said that a supervisor employed by Fisher subjected Melony Encinias and a class of women working on a highway project near Mora, N.M., to sexual harassment, including a barrage of sexual comments and innuendo creating a hostile work environment. The agency also charged that Encinias suffered retaliation because she opposed the supervisor’s unwelcome conduct and was forced to resign because of the harassment, retaliation, and the employer’s failure to provide appropriate preventive or remedial relief.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Fisher Sand & Gravel Co., Civil Action No. 1:09-cv-00309) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
The lawsuit asks the court to order Fisher to provide Encinias and other affected women with appropriate relief, including reinstatement or front pay; back wages; 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 which eradicate and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
“Our investigation revealed that Fisher’s supervisor was permitted to use the workplace as his playground and if you did not play, you paid,” said EEOC Phoenix District Director Chester V. Bailey. “Employers have an important responsibility to protect their employees from harassment and retaliation in the workplace. In this case, this employer failed to do so and will now have to answer in court for its conduct.”
Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, added, “We continue to see a significant number of sexual harassment cases throughout our district. Employers may not subject women to a barrage of sexual abuse for the privilege of working. The EEOC will prosecute such cases vigorously.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.