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Promens USA Pays $225,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

Federal Agency Charged That Women Were Subjected to Hostile Work Environment, Excluded From Machine Operator Jobs at West Chicago Facility

CHICAGO – Plastics manufacturer Promens USA,  Inc. will pay $225,000 to settle a sex discrimination and harassment lawsuit  filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency  announced today. The EEOC sued Promens USA,  formerly known as Bonar Plastics, Inc., in September 2010 on behalf of four  women who were sexually harassed, retaliated against for rejecting their  supervisor’s sexual advances, and denied job opportunities open only to male  employees. (EEOC v. Promens USA, Inc. and Bonar Plastics, Inc., No. 10 C 6232  [N.D. Ill.]).

Promens USA  operated a plastics manufacturing facility at 1005 Atlantic Drive in West  Chicago from approximately September 2005 to October 2010. During this time, the EEOC said, a Promens  USA supervisor repeatedly propositioned temporary female workers. When the women rejected his advances, the  supervisor fired them, the EEOC alleged.  This pattern of quid pro quo  harassment continued until Promens USA fired this supervisor in July  2010 after yet another woman complained of sexual harassment.

Four women employed in the  defendants’ finishing department filed discrimination charges with the EEOC  alleging sex harassment and retaliation in September 2007. The EEOC’s investigation of these charges  revealed that Promens USA also excluded women from higher-paying jobs in the  molding department.

Sex discrimination, including  sexual harassment, and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII  of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The  EEOC filed suit against Promens USA  in September 2010 after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement  through its conciliation process.
  U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang  entered a consent decree resolving this litigation on July 28, 2011. Under the terms of the decree, the EEOC will  distribute $225,000 of monetary relief to women who were subjected to  harassment, retaliation and job segregation at the West  Chicago facility. Promens USA is  also enjoined from further retaliating against any person due to his or her  cooperation with the EEOC or participation in this lawsuit. The decree provides for extensive injunctive  relief if Promens USA  reacquires the West Chicago facility at any  time during the next three years.

“This decree represents a positive  outcome for all women employed in manufacturing facilities,” said John  Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago. “Employers should take notice that women  cannot be excluded from a class of jobs based on stereotypes about their  physical strength or assumed lack of interest.  The EEOC uncovered evidence that Promens systematically excluded women  from higher-paid positions as machine operators. Federal law plainly forbids work force  segregation on the basis of sex.”

EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney  Gregory Gochanour noted that the parties had reached a settlement of the case  before engaging in protracted discovery proceedings.

Gochanour said, “Early resolution  of suits like these benefits the discrimination victims, as it gives them  earlier access to compensation; benefits the defendants, as it allows them to  return their focus to business affairs; and benefits the public, as it allows  the EEOC to turn its attention to other acts of discrimination in need of  redress. For all these reasons, the EEOC  appreciates Promens USA’s  cooperation in resolving this suit.”

The EEOC’s litigation team from the  Chicago District Office included Gochanour and Trial Attorneys Ethan Cohen and  Grayson S. Walker. The Chicago District  Office investigates charges of discrimination and conducts agency litigation in  Illinois, Wisconsin,  Minnesota, Iowa,  and North and South Dakota, with area offices  in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

Promens is an Icelandic company  that manufacturers plastic products. American subsidiary Promens USA closed its U.S. locations in October 2010.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment  discrimination. Further information is  available at