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Press Release 09-26-2018

Alaskan Gold Mine Sued by EEOC For  Sex Discrimination and Retaliation

Sumitomo Pogo Mine Imposed Additional Hurdles for Female Miner, Federal Agency Charges

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Alaska-based Sumitomo Metal Mining Pogo, LLC, violated federal law when it failed to promote a qualified employee because of her sex and instead retaliated against her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, when Hanna Hurst began working as a Level 1 underground miner in 2007 at Pogo Mine, owned and operated by Sumitomo Metal Mining Pogo, LLC, she was the only female underground miner in her crew at the remote worksite. In 2012, when Hurst began to actively seek advancement from Level 4 to Level 5, she was denied promotion while male colleagues with less seniority or training advanced. When Hurst pointed out the discrepancy in treatment, Pogo retaliated by imposing additional training requirements on Hurst that were not required of male miners promoted to Level 5.

Sex discrimination and retaliation violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska (Case No. 4:18-cv-00034-JWS), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary damages on behalf of Hurst, and injunctive relief which typically includes training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the worksite, and compliance reporting. Hurst is also represented by the non-profit Equal Rights Advocates.

"Hannah Hurst loved her job, and she worked hard to meet its rigorous challenges," said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney May Che. "Despite being eligible for promotion for over two years, she never received the advancement that she earned. The EEOC is here to fight for the rights of people like Ms. Hurst."

Nancy Sienko, director of the EEOC's Seattle Field Office, said, "There is no legitimate explanation for why Ms. Hurst was held back while male miners with less seniority or training were allowed to progress to Level 5. Employers are required to provide all employees with equal employment opportunities."

EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney Roberta Steele added, "The EEOC will vigorously prosecute cases of gender discrimination to ensure that women in all fields, including non-traditional trades, have a level playing field and the same opportunities for advancement as their male peers."

According to its website,, Pogo is an underground gold mine operation in Alaska with over 300 employees that is owned and operated by Sumitomo Metal Mining Pogo LLC, a joint venture between two Tokyo-based corporations, Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd (SMM) and Sumitomo Corporation.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.