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Press Release 09-26-2018

Atlas Electrical Construction Sued by EEOC For  Sex-Based Harassment and Retaliation

New Mexico Contractor Permitted Abuse of Male Employees and Retaliated Against Those Who Opposed, Federal Agency Charges

ALBUQUERQUE - Atlas Electrical Construction Inc.("Atlas"), a New Mexico electrical contracting company, violated federal law by permitting a male supervisor to subject male employees to a sexually hostile work environment. The company also retaliated against an employee who complained internally and subsequently filed an EEOC charge, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.

The EEOC alleges that Atlas allowed a work site superintendent to sexually harass male employees. The alleged harassment included egregious sexual name calling, sexual comments, innuendos, and at least one incident of touching a male employee's genitalia. Although at least one employee complained to the foremen and company superiors about the superintendent's abusive conduct, nothing was done to prevent or remedy the conduct. When an affected male employee sought to transfer to a different work site away from the abuse, his efforts were not promptly or effectively addressed by the employer and the employee was forced to leave work. When that same male employee notified Atlas that he planned to file a complaint and afterwards did file an EEOC charge, Atlas fired him.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, as well as retaliation for complaining about illegal discrimination or filing a charge. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Atlas Electrical Construction, Inc, Civil Action No., 1:18-cv-00903-SCY-LF in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico after first attempting to reach a settlement through its pre-litigation conciliation process.

The lawsuit asks the court to order the company to provide all of the affected men with appropriate relief, including back wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and a permanent injunction enjoining Atlas from engaging in any further gender-discriminatory practices or retaliation. The EEOC also asks the court to order the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace.

"Federal law prohibits employers from allowing sexual harassment of any employee, both women and men. Approximately 10 percent of EEOC sexual harassment charges are filed by men, generally complaining about sexual harassment by other men," said EEOC Phoenix District Office Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill. "Employers who fail to protect employees from abusive sexual harassment, including same-sex harassment, are violating federal law."

Elizabeth Cadle, district director of EEOC's Phoenix District Office, added, "Employers must ensure that employees are not subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers have the legal duty to stop any sexual harassment in the workplace. And, employers also must ensure that employees are not retaliated against when they oppose harassment in the workplace. Approximately 50% of our charges have a retaliation allegation."

EEOC's Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque).

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.