EEOC Sues BNSF Railway for Sexual Harassment

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Women at Nebraska Railyard Subjected to Harassing Conduct and Managers Failed to Take Action in Violation of Federal Law, EEOC Alleges

ST. LOUIS – BNSF Railway Company (BNSF), a major North American freight transportation company, violated federal law by subjecting female employees at its Alliance, Nebraska railyard to a sexually hostile work environment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the lawsuit, female workers at the facility were subjected to an almost daily barrage of harassing conduct and comments from male coworkers and supervisors. The alleged treatment, which has been ongoing for many years, included sexual and derogatory comments, slurs, graffiti, and sexually suggestive and nude photos of women. When female employees complained about the harassment, company supervisors allegedly brushed it off, sometimes laughing or telling the women, “welcome to the railroad”. The suit alleges BNSF, which is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, failed to take any action to meaningfully address the problem.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. The EEOC’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court for Nebraska (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. BNSF Railway Co., Civil Action No. 8:21-cv-00369), alleges BNSF violated Title VII by failing to take reasonable steps to combat sexual harassment at its Alliance railyard. The EEOC seeks monetary relief for female employees affected by the harassment, an order prohibiting future sexual harassment, and other relief.

“There is still work to be done to ensure employees in all workplaces are able to do their jobs without the humiliation, stress, and fear caused by illegal sexual harassment,” said Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office. “This type of conduct is unlawful in every industry and workplace, whether it’s an office or a store or a railyard.”

L. Jack Vasquez, Jr., director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District office, added, “Sexual harassment has no place in the American workplace. Employers are obliged to prevent this type of conduct and must take appropriate and effective action to rid their workplaces of sexually harassing conduct.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, including sex discrimination. The St. Louis District office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available 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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