Manager Targeted Clerk for Abuse Because of Gender, Federal Agency Charged
SAN FRANCISCO — UPS Freight has agreed to pay $120,000 to settle a gender-based harassment and retaliation lawsuit on behalf of a former clerk at the Benicia warehouse of Overnite Transportation, Inc. (acquired by UPS Freight in 2005), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
According to the EEOC’s investigation, the facility manager subjected Joanne Nijem, who is Hispanic, age 44, and the only female employee at the facility, to a barrage of insults and criticism in front of coworkers and customers almost every day. By contrast, none of the male employees at the facility were treated this way; instead, the manager would address issues with male employees behind closed doors. When Nijem finally reported the harassment to the company hotline and the regional director, she was terminated in less than a week.
Sexual harassment and retaliation violate Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. After a neutral investigation conducted by EEOC investigator Blake Wu, and after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement, the EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. UPS Ground Freight, Inc. dba UPS Freight and United Parcel Service, Inc, C-07-04994 CW) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
UPS Freight denied culpability but agreed to enter into a consent decree, signed by Judge Claudia Wilken. In addition to $120,000 in monetary damages to Nijem, UPS Freight will provide training to the management and human resources officials involved in Nijem’s termination, maintain an anti-harassment policy, and post its complaint procedure.
“Under Title VII, harassment does not have to be motivated by lust or blatant misogyny to be illegal sex discrimination,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “As in Ms. Nijem’s case, being made the target of public humiliation and abuse because of one’s gender also violates the law.”
EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado added, “A company hotline is pointless if employees see that the outcome for using it is punishment for speaking out about issues. The EEOC is glad that Ms. Nijem is receiving compensation for the loss of her job, and also that UPS Freight will implement training and other measures to prevent future harassment and retaliation.”
Overnite Corporation was acquired by Atlanta-based United Parcel Service in 2005 and is now branded as UPS Freight. According to its website, www.ltl.upsfreight.com, United Parcel Service is the world’s largest package delivery company and has developed Overnite, as UPS Freight, into the nation’s fourth largest less-than-truckload company. UPS Freight is headquartered in Richmond, Va.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on September 23, 2009.
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