Managers Sexually Harassed Female Janitorial Staff, Federal Agency Charged
FRESNO, Calif. – ABM Industry Groups, LLC (ABM), a facility management services company, has settled federal charges of sexual harassment filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $310,000 and other injunctive relief, the federal agency announced today.
According to charges made to the EEOC, ABM subjected a class of female employees to persistent sexual harassment, including unwanted touching and sexual advances, vulgar phone calls, unwelcome sexually explicit gifts, and creating a hostile work environment.
The EEOC investigated the allegations and found reasonable cause to believe that ABM violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Resolution in the matter was attained through the EEOC’s pre-litigation administrative conciliation process.
Without admitting liability, ABM has agreed to enter into a 42-month conciliation agreement with the EEOC. The company has agreed to pay $310,000 in compensatory damages. In addition, the company has agreed to hire or appoint an equal employment opportunity consultant to help ensure that training and reporting procedures comply with Title VII and the agreement. ABM will maintain and keep a centralized repository system for discrimination complaints; revise its discrimination and harassment policies as appropriate; review and revise its investigation procedures policy; increase distribution of company policies; and provide a Spanish translation and Spanish audio recording of its EEO policies.
ABM will also update its compliance hotline forms to include pictorial graphics depicting the company’s prohibition against sexual harassment and develop a reference card available for its employees with the phone numbers to ABM’s compliance hotline and employee relations. The company will also develop a video depicting acceptable behavior in the workplace, bystander intervention, and an explanation of the prohibition of sexual harassment with examples. Employees who are covered under the job titles janitor, cleaner and other similar positions within ABM will be required to attend an annual training program. ABM has also agreed to conduct climate surveys, adopt standard operating protocols, and have a goal of increasing women in supervisor and management positions. The EEOC will monitor compliance with this agreement.
“Harassment in the workplace can fester if not addressed immediately,” said Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC’s Fresno Local Office. “We encourage employees who are experiencing harassment or discrimination, or those who witness it, to report it. Addressing workplace harassment is one of the six national priorities for the EEOC. We commend ABM for addressing these allegations by introducing numerous measures to prevent harassment and educate employees in the workplace. Employers should review their current policies and practices to confirm that they are compliant with federal law.”
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.