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Mount Vernon Mills to Pay $70,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Teenage Girl Subjected to  Unwanted Sexual Touching and Crude Comments and Company Failed to Stop It, Federal  Agency Says

SAN ANTONIO - Mount Vernon Mills, Inc., a Greenville, S.C., textile company with a cotton mill in Cuero,  Texas, will pay $70,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual  harass­ment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC's suit (Case No. 6:11-cv-00052, filed in U.S.  District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Victoria Division) charged  that Mount Vernon Mills allowed two male mill workers to subject a teenaged  female employee on the overnight shift to sexual harassment. The misconduct included unwelcome sexual  touching as well as a pattern of crude statements and company-wide sexual  rumors about the girl. The EEOC said the  company failed to take appropriate action to address and stop the harassment,  even when the teenager repeatedly complained and management was aware of the  unlawful conduct.

The two-year consent decree settling the suit, signed by  U.S. District Judge Gregg Costas, provides for anti-discrimination training for  managers and supervisors at the Cuero facility, as well as payment of $70,000  to the victim.

"Employees absolutely have the right under federal law  to work in an environment free of sexual harassment," said Judith G. Taylor,  supervisory trial attorney of the EEOC's San Antonio Field Office. "No employer should allow such degrading and  shameful conditions for any worker, especially a teenager. Supervisors and managers must ensure  that young female workers are safe and that immediate action is taken to  identify and rectify sexual misconduct in the workplace."

Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC's Dallas  District Office, said, "Some workplaces, shifts or remote assignments make  female workers particularly vulnerable to sexual offenses by co-workers and  supervisors. We will be keeping a close  eye on those situations so that women do not have to be anxious about pursuing  that kind of job opportunity in a tough job market."

Janet Elizondo, the EEOC's Dallas District director, added,  "Our hope is that young people will learn early on what their rights and  protections are in the workplace so that they can later have the knowledge and  insight they need during the course of their careers, whatever their occupation."

In fiscal year 2011, 11,364 charges of sexual harassment  were filed with the EEOC and state or local agencies nationwide.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination. Further information  about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at