EEOC Sues Plastipak Packaging For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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Plastics Manufacturing Company Fired Materials Handler Because She Complained About Harassment, Federal Agency Charges

BALTIMORE - Plastipak Packaging, Inc. violated federal law when it fired a materials handler in retaliation for her complaint about sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced.

According to EEOC's suit, Plastipak and a temporary agency jointly employed Carrie Vargas, who was assigned by the agency to work at Plastipak's Havre de Grace, Md., facility. After Vargas rejected the sexual advances from a Plastipak employee, he repeatedly complained to a supervisor about Vargas' supposed work infractions. The complaints were typically false, EEOC says.

Vargas complained to her immediate supervisor that the coworker was sexually harassing her. Instead of doing an investigation, the next morning Plastipak terminated Vargas, EEOC charges. According to the suit, Plastipak told the temporary agency that it had terminated Vargas because it was in her "best interest."

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment. Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against individuals who complain about discrimination or harassment. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Plastipak Packaging Inc., Civil Action No. 1:16-cv-03278) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

"It is never in anyone's best interest when an employer engages in retaliation," said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. "Such conduct only magnifies the problem. It hurts the worker who loses a job through no fault of her own and it harms the employer who then may be liable for both sexual harassment and retaliation."

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "Federal law protects all employees, including temporary workers, from being subjected to unwelcome sexual advances and from being fired for complaining about such harassment."

EEOC's Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.

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