EEOC: Water and gas product company must pay $150,000 to settle sexual harassment suit

Dive Brief:

  • Mueller Co. LLC, maker and distributor of water and gas products, along with its cleaning contractor IH Services, Inc., must pay $150,000 to settle U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission allegations regarding sexual assault. IH Services assigned three women to be janitors at a Mueller manufacturing plant in Alabama, where Mueller employees allegedly subjected the janitors to sexual solicitation and harassment, and attempted sexual assault, the agency said. 
  • Per the EEOC, when the janitors complained to leadership at IH Services and Mueller, managers reduced the three janitors’ hours, forced them to work overnight shifts, and either suspended or terminated them.
  • This alleged behavior violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which holds employers accountable for allowing a hostile work environment based on sex and for retaliating against workers bringing Title VII complaints.

Dive Insight:

The three-year consent decree, ordered by the EEOC, requires both Mueller and IH Services provide monetary relief for the janitors. Additionally, both companies must review and revise their retaliation and sexual harassment policies, and must “post them in prominent locations frequented by employees or distribute them to all employees.” 

In that same vein, both IH Services and Mueller must provide annual anti-retaliation and anti-sexual harassment training, as well as employee rights training to managers and nonsupervisory employees.

“The EEOC is committed to protecting workers from sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment — even when that harassment takes place at another employer’s worksite,” Birmingham District attorney Marsha Rucker said in a statement. Rucker re-iterated that the commission will “aggressively pursue remedies for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace” and for employers retaliating against them