Cleaning Company Fired Employee for Complaining About Abuse, Federal Agency Charges
INDIANAPOLIS - Total Maintenance Solutions, Inc., a Cincinnati-based commercial cleaning and construction clean-up company, violated federal law by subjecting an employee to a sexually hostile work environment and retaliating against her for complaining, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit today.
According to the EEOC's suit, Total Maintenance Solutions, through its owner, forced the employee to endure sexual harassment, including unwanted touching, sexual comments, overtures and ogling. TMS's owner called an employee his "little young ass" and told her how sexy she looked. He hugged her, made sexual comments about her body and repeatedly called her at night at her home after work hours suggesting that they have a sexual relationship. The employee complained repeatedly about the sexually hostile work environment, and was subsequently fired in retaliation for her complaints, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 1:18-cv-00413-MRB) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Cincinnati Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In its suit, the EEOC seeks compensatory and punitive damages, back pay, and injunctive relief.
"It is unconscionable as well as unlawful to sexually harass employees in the workplace, especially where it is so severe or pervasive that it interferes with someone's livelihood," said Kenneth Bird, regional attorney for the EEOC's Indianapolis District. "The EEOC is absolutely committed to the elimination of sexual harassment in the workplace."
On Monday, the EEOC reconvened its Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace for a meeting at agency headquarters in Washington, D.C. Established in 2015, the task force concluded its work in June 2016 with the final report of its co-chairs, EEOC Commissioner Chai R. Feldblum and Commissioner and now-Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. The report includes recommendations and resources regarding leadership, accountability, policies and procedures, training, and developing a sense of collective responsibility. Monday's meeting delved into workplace harassment in light of the #MeToo movement, and discussed how employers can and have worked to better prevent and stop harassment.
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is also one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The Indianapolis District covers Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and parts of Ohio. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's website at www.eeoc.gov.