ST. LOUIS – Trinity Products, Inc., a manufacturer of billboards and sign posts located in O’Fallon, Mo., violated federal law when a supervisor sexually harassed a female worker and then replaced her when she complained to company managers, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a discrimination lawsuit filed today in federal court.
According to the EEOC's suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Case No. 4:09-cv-01617, the male director of operations of the company hired Rebecca Holland in October 2007 as his assistant after meeting her at a local restaurant where she worked as a server. Once on the new job, he began propositioning Holland and making sexual comments to her, the EEOC alleged. Holland rebuffed him, but when the harassment continued she complained to two supervisors. Shortly thereafter, the defendant began advertising to fill Holland's position and she understood that she was being replaced. The EEOC asserts that she was discharged.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from sexual harassment and from retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
"Sexual harassment by a high ranking company official is particularly egregious. The balance of power can be an effective tool for a harasser in the workplace," said Barbara A. Seely, regional attorney of the EEOC's St. Louis District. "Ms. Holland followed the company's sexual harassment policy yet lost her job. When a woman stands up for herself in such a situation, she should not have to fear retaliation for her complaints."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.