Women at EPI’s Mississippi Plant Had to Quit to Escape Abuse, Federal Agency Charges
OXFORD, Miss. – A St. Louis-based plastic injection molding company violated federal law by subjecting a class of female employees at its Sherman, Miss., plant to a sexually hostile work environment and forcing several of them to quit their jobs, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, EPI Advanced, LLC and Engineered Products Industries, LLC, allowed Dean Miller, a male supervisor, and other male co-workers, to harass press operator Cathy Johnson and other women at the Sherman plant. The EEOC says the female workers were forced to endure myriad sexually explicit comments and propositions, and many of the victims were grabbed and touched by Miller. Several women quit because of the harassment, and one woman quit her job after Miller phoned her at work threatening to sexually assault her in the employees’ parking lot. Although several complaints were made by victims to management, the company failed to properly investigate complaints and stop the misconduct, the EEOC contends.
This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harassment based on sex. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 2:09-cv-00110, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi at Oxford) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction prohibiting such discrimination in the future, and to order EPI Advanced, LLC and Engineered Products Industries, LLC to pay Johnson (and women as a class) wages lost as a result of the discrimination, interest on the lost pay, compensatory damages for emotional and psychological harm, and any other damages deemed appropriate.
“The environment at EPI was simply intolerable,” said EEOC Memphis District Director Katharine W. Kores, whose office has jurisdiction for most of Mississippi. “No one should have to face such unlawful conduct in the workplace. The EEOC will continue to combat such discrimination.”
According to company information, EPI Advanced, LLC, wholly owned by Engineered Products Industries, LLC, specializes in plastic injection molding. EPI is a custom plastic injection molding company founded in 1953 with headquarters in St. Louis and divisional operations in Sherman, Miss., and DeQueen, Ark.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.