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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
6-15-10

Federal Court Enters Consent Decree Resolving EEOC Sex Harassment Suit Against Biewer Sawmill

Supervisor Repeatedly Exposed Himself to Female Employees, Federal Agency Charged

MADISON, Wis. – Judge William M.  Conley of the federal district court in Madison  has entered a consent decree resolving a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission against Biewer Wisconsin Sawmill, Inc. (BWS)  of Prentice, Wis. The EEOC had charged  that BWS, a major Midwestern lumber  supplier, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it did  not take immediate and appropriate action to stop a supervisor’s sexual  harassment after learning that he had  repeatedly exposed his genitals to female employees over several years.

The decree provides that BWS will  pay employees Verna Weber and Patricia Stade a total of $55,000, prohibits  future sexual harassment and requires that BWS provide anti-discrimination  training to its managers and human resources personnel.

Wisconsin court records indicate that on November 12,  2009, several months after the EEOC filed its civil lawsuit, the supervisor,  Billy J. Decker, was convicted in a criminal case (Case No. 08-CM-106) in Price  County Circuit Court of two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior for twice  exposing himself to Weber in 2008.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that  when an employer learns of sexual harassment, it must take immediate,  appropriate, and effective action to stop it,” said Regional Attorney John C.  Hendrickson of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office which is responsible for EEOC  litigation in Wisconsin, Illinois,  Minnesota, Iowa,  North Dakota and South Dakota. “Here the EEOC contended that supervisors  were aware of the harassment but did not take immediate action, and women  suffered as a result. We appreciate BWS’s  willingness to work with us to provide relief for the victims and to ensure  that harassment does not recur.”

The case was litigated by Senior  Trial Attorney Dennis McBride of the Milwaukee Area Office, part of the EEOC’s  Chicago District Office.

According to its web site, BWS is one of several affiliated  companies engaged in the lumber business under the Biewer name in Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois and headquartered in St.    Clair, Mich. The companies manufacture and distribute  products for a wide variety of building applications. They have sawmills in  Prentice, Wis. and McBain,  Mich., and manufacturing and distribution  facilities in Seneca, Ill., and Lansing, Mich.  They are affiliated with Biewer Logistics,  which offers custom transportation and shipping management, and with Biewer  Industrial Lumber, LLC, which is described as the companies’ “business-to-business”  branch.

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