Woman Fired for Numerous Complaints About Sexually Harassing Remarks and Conduct, Federal Agency Charged
DALLAS – Greater Metroplex Interiors, Inc., a commercial drywall and acoustics company based in Southlake, Texas, will pay a female former employee $60,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 3:08-CV-1362-P), Luanda Puente, a laborer employed with Greater Metroplex since 2005, was subjected to sexually explicit remarks and conduct for the duration of her employment. The EEOC said that Puente was exposed to blatantly open urination in her presence and sexually offensive graffiti. Although Puente’s supervisors were aware of some of these incidents, they failed to take corrective action and subsequently fired Puente for complaining about the unlawful conduct.
Discrimination on the basis of sex violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and retaliation for complaining about it. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
“Employers must do their part to ensure that all their employees understand boundaries of decent and respectful behavior to avoid violating the law,” said Meaghan Shepard, trial attorney for the EEOC. “There must be a mechanism in place for employees to report any inappropriate conduct without fear of retaliation. Training and other educational tools are the best weapons against workplace discrimination.”
In addition to the payment to Puente, the consent decree requires the company to establish a sexual harassment policy and complaint procedure, and to train all supervisory employees how to recognize, identify and report potential violations of the new policy. The company will also provide annual training on sexual harassment and retaliation to all of its employees in the DFW area, post a notice of non-discrimination in its facilities, and notify the EEOC of any complaints of sexual harassment and related claims of retaliation it receives during the term of the agreement.
“It really is not that complicated for an employer to get a handle on this; it is a simple matter of teaching respect,” said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. “As women increase their participation in construction-related trades and crafts, they must not be targeted for abuse. Employers must take responsibility for preventing a hostile work environment.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.