According to a press release from the EEOC, the agency has filed a lawsuit against Iowa-based carrier Panama Transfer, Inc. for violating federal law by allegedly “allowing a female dock worker to be sexually harassed and then firing her for resisting” said harassment.
EEOC Director of the Chicago District, John Rowe, said that from April 11, 2011, to May 8, 2012, third-shift dockworker Susan Devries was regularly subjected to sexual harassment at the hands of one of her supervisors at Panama Transfers.
The EEOC alleges that the supervisor “repeatedly made overtures to her as well as sexual remarks and innuendos, including over the workplace intercom for her co-wokrers to hear as well.”
Devries complained about the harassment, however, the EEOC says that rather than address Devries’ allegations of harassment, the company chose to terminate her.
“Women have the same right as men to earn a living in an environment free from sexual harassment,” said Rowe, who supervised the agency’s investigation. “Employers who don’t protect their workers’ rights need to know that the federal government will enforce our national policy against sexual abuse in the workplace.”
EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney John C. Hendrickson said, “Despite the focus on sexual harassment over the past 20 years, it continues to be an area which demands the EEOC’s attention. Sexual harassment appears to be an ongoing problem where women are working in male-dominated environments, and we are determined to make employers comply with the law.”
The EEOC says that Panama Transfer is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects workers from sexual harassment and retaliation if they complain about it. The EEOC says the agency attempted to reach a settlement with the carrier, before filing a lawsuit.
The agency is seeking lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages.
“We are focused on putting an end to retaliation,” Hendrickson added. “Federal law guarantees everyone the right to complain when she believes job discrimination has occurred. The EEOC will support employees in exercising the rights that Congress has guaranteed them.”