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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
7-28-10

Terminix and ServiceMaster Sued by EEOC for Failing to Act on Sex Harassment of Women

Female Employees Subjected to Sexual Harassment by Supervisor;Management Refused to Address the Misconduct, Federal Agency Charges

PHOENIX — The Terminix International Company and The ServiceMaster Company violated federal law by subjecting a class of female employees to a sexually hostile work environment at its Salt Lake City, Utah facility, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it has filed.

The EEOC’s lawsuit, (EEOC v. The ServiceMaster Company and The Terminix International Company, L.P., Civil Action No. 2:10-CV-00705 DAK), filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah (Northern Division), alleged that Terminix and ServiceMaster permitted a class of female employees to be repeatedly sexually harassed by a supervisor. The abuse included repeated sexual comments by a supervisor directed at a class of female employees.

The EEOC alleges that, on at least one occasion, a supervisor suggested to the female employees that they come to work not wearing a top. On another occasion, this same supervisor suggested that the women should wear nothing but Vaseline. This supervisor also made repeated comments to female employees telling them that they could be strippers and could give him lap dances, the EEOC said. According to the complaint, managers knew about the comments and failed to address the harassment.

This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which prohibit employment discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, or national origin, as well as retaliation. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the victim who filed a charge with the EEOC and for the other females affected, as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent discriminatory practices.

“Employers who subject individuals to harassment based on sex are violating federal law,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, whose jurisdiction includes the state of Utah. “Employers must recognize their responsibility to assure that workers are not harassed by supervisors or co-workers. Where managers or other high-level officials observe the harassment and do nothing, they are putting the company at risk.”

EEOC’s Acting District Director Rayford O. Irvin, added, “Employers must take complaints of discrimination seriously and address them appropriately. The EEOC will continue to aggressively pursue employers who fail to prevent or promptly correct sexual harassment at their workplaces.”

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