EEOC Charges Temporary Agency Failed to Protect Women From Abuse at Pittsburgh Plastics
PITTSBURGH -- A global Fortune 500 staffing company failed to take appropriate action when its employees complained about egregious sexual harassment at a plastic manufacturing plant to which they had been assigned, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Adecco USA assigned Veronica Jalpa and a number of other female employees to work at a Pittsburgh Plastics Manufacturing, Inc. facility in Butler, Pa. The EEOC charges in its lawsuit that on several occasions a Pittsburgh Plastics supervisor rubbed his crotch against Jalpa and other females and touched or slapped them on their buttocks. The EEOC alleges that the supervisor also repeatedly made sexually offensive and demeaning comments to Jalpa and female employees.
Jalpa, of Butler, and at least one other female employee complained to Adecco officials about the sexual harassment. Jalpa also requested to be reassigned to a different shift to avoid the harasser. The EEOC charges that instead of ensuring that its employees were not harassed at the Pittsburgh Plastics worksite, Adecco joined in retaliating against Jalpa by firing her. Another Adecco employee was compelled to quit due to the ongoing sexual harassment.
The EEOC further charges that Adecco continued to assign female employees to work at Pittsburgh Plastics even after receiving complaints about the sexually hostile work environment there.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964makes it unlawful to sexually harass an employee and to retaliate against someone who complains about employment discrimination. The EEOC filed suit against Adecco USA (Civil Action No. 09-1246, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. On Aug. 26, 2009, the EEOC had filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Pittsburgh Plastics Manufacturing, Inc. (Civil Action No. 09-1148, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania).
“As more companies use staffing agencies to recruit employees, it is vital that both the company and the staffing agency understand that they are each legally required to protect their employees from sexual harassment,” said Debra Lawrence, acting regional attorney for the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office. “The EEOC will take action against both the staffing agency and the employer using the staffing agency if they condone sexual harassment or if they retaliate against workers.”
EEOC Philadelphia District Director Marie M. Tomasso added, “A staffing agency’s obligation to protect its employees from sexual harassment and retaliation does not end when the employees step out of the agency doors to start their work assignments.”
Adecco USA is part of the Zurich, Switzerland-based Adecco Group, which calls itself “the world's leading provider of HR solutions.” According to its web site, Adecco connects over 700,000 associates with business clients each day through its network of over 33,000 employees and 6,600 offices in over 70 countries and territories around the world. Additional information about the company is available on its web site, www.adeccousa.com.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.