Tegra Medical to Pay $240,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Suit

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

Medical Device Manufacturer Permitted Ongoing Sexual Harassment of Female Employees And Retaliated Against Them When They Complained, Federal Agency Charged
 

BOSTON – Tegra Medical LLC, a medical device manufacturer based in Franklin, Mass., will pay $240,000 and take additional steps to resolve 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 asserted that Ivan Pacheco, a manufacturing supervisor at Tegra’s Franklin facility, engaged in sexual harassment of at least two female employees, one of whom was only 18 years old at the time. The lawsuit asserted Pacheco repeatedly made lewd comments to the women and other female employees and touched one woman inappropriately.

The EEOC alleged that when one female employee complained about Pacheco’s conduct to Tegra’s human resources department, the company failed to take measures to end the harassment, even though at least three other female employees had previously complained about Pacheco’s inappropriate behavior. Instead, about a week after she complained, Tegra retaliated against her by denying a leave request to care for her son. When another female employee complained soon after to Tegra’s human resources manager about Pacheco’s conduct, the manager falsely denied the existence of prior complaints. Rather than discipline Pacheco, Tegra knowingly transferred the woman to a position where she was exposed to materials to which she was allergic, the suit alleged.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex, including through sexual harassment, and also from retaliating against workers who object to discrim­ination. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (EEOC v. Tegra Medical LLC, Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-11344), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case was litigated by EEOC Trial Attorney Caitlin Brown and super­vised by Supervisory Trial Attorney Kimberly Cruz.

On November 23, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge William Young entered a consent decree resolving the case, under which Tegra will pay $240,000 to two of the victims of the alleged harassment and retaliation. The decree also requires that Tegra provide EEO training to all of its employees, with additional training for its human resources department, which must now employ a Spanish-speaking individual. The human resources manager must obtain a senior human resources certification in order to maintain her post. Tegra also agreed to establish an independent hotline for employee complaints, revise its policies regarding discrimination and investigation of complaints, and report complaints of sex discrimination and retaliation to the EEOC.

“Title VII requires that employers act swiftly to end sexual harassment in the workplace,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office. “Failing to do so, and retali­ating against those who complain, is a plain violation of federal law.”

Judy Keenan, director of the EEOC’s New York District Office, said, “We are happy that Tegra’s new owners have agreed to take action going forward to stop sexual harassment by implementing the preventative measures — such as the independent hotline, training, and the appointment of a Spanish-speaking HR representative — required by the consent decree.”

The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.

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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