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Press Release 05-28-2013

Joe-Ryan Enterprises to Pay $15,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Company Subjected Female Employee to Sexual Harassment, Resulting in Intolerable Work Environment Forcing Her to Resign, Federal Agency Charged

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -Joe-Ryan Enterprises, Inc., a trucking company located in Phenix City, Ala., which does business as Joe Ryan Trucking, will pay $15,000 and offer 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 lawsuit alleged Joe Ryan Trucking subjected a female office clerk to a sexually hostile work environment including vulgar, insulting and derogatory comments about women and sexually explicit pictures in the workplace. At the time, the victim, Rhonda Brown, was the only female employee who regularly worked in the company's small office. According to the suit, the work environment became so intolerable Brown was forced to resign.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed suit (No. 3:11-CV-0795) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Eastern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The three-year consent decree issued by the court on May 14, 2013, includes $15,000 in monetary relief for Ms. Brown.  The decree requires Joe Ryan to implement new policies and practices designed to prevent harassment, conduct employee training on anti-discrimination laws and post notices at the work site.  Joe Ryan is also required to provide copies of documents to the EEOC concerning its policies, training efforts, and new complaints of sexual harassment during the time the decree is in effect.

Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director for the EEOC's Birmingham District Office, said, "A woman who chooses to work in a male-dominated industry or workplace does not give up her right to be free from sexual harassment. Employers who allow their workplaces to be permeated with sexually derogatory language and conduct are not meeting their obligations under federal law. When employers choose not to meet those obligations, the EEOC is prepared to pursue all appropriate means to hold them accountable." 

Gerald Miller, senior trial attorney for the EEOC's Birmingham District Office, said, "We are pleased this settlement is targeted to improve the work environment for all employees in this workforce.  It should help ensure no worker feels victimized because of gender."

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  The EEOC's Birmingham District covers Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at