Superior Electric to Pay $55,000 to Settle EEOC Sex Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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Company to Institute Training and Procedures to Prevent Future Discrimination

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Cheyenne company Superior Electric, Inc. will pay $55,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.  

The EEOC's lawsuit, filed on Aug. 20, 2013 in federal court in Cheyenne, Wyo., charged Superior Electric with failing to investigate and address a complaint by Jennifer Johnson, a former apprentice electrician for the company, that she was being sexually harassed by the journeyman to whom she was assigned. According to the complaint, journeyman Fernando Muñoz was assigned to train apprentice electrician Jennifer Johnson when she was a new employee in 2009.  Johnson said that Muñoz sexually harassed her, and after she complained to Superior management that she was being sexually harassed, no action was taken to investigate or discipline Muñoz.  Instead, the EEOC said, Superior fired Johnson as retaliation for complaining.  

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Superior Electric, Inc., Case No. 13-cv-182-F), after first attempting to settle the matter through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit contains non-monetary relief. For example, it prohibits Superior from any future discrimination based on sex, and requires the company to review its sexual harassment policy.  The decree also requires Superior to train its workforce, post notice to employees of their rights, and make periodic reports to the EEOC on its compliance with the decree.

"Women in traditionally male jobs, like the electrician jobs in this case, are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment in the workplace, and employers must be prepared to deal with complaints properly when they arise," said Mary Jo O'Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC's Phoenix District Office, whose jurisdiction includes Colorado.  "Workers and employers must be aware of the laws prohibiting this form of unlawful hostile work environment."

EEOC Denver Field Director Nancy Sienko added, "We encourage women in non-traditional jobs to step forward when they believe they are experiencing discrimination.  We applaud Superior Electric for its agreement to institute appropriate policies and procedures for addressing reports of sex discrimination and harassment, and we hope other small employers in the area follow suit."

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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