U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Company Owner Fires Four Employees that Reported or Verified Sexual Harassment by Favored Employee, Federal Agency Alleges.
CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Safie Specialty Foods Company Inc., which pickles vegetables in Chesterfield Township, Michigan, violated federal law by failing to remedy a complaint of sexual harassment and retaliating against four workers for either making or supporting the complaint, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Safie Specialty Foods subjected two female production workers to a sexually hostile work environment. These women were repeatedly the targets of unwelcome sexual advances, comments, lurking and staring by the lead processing employee, who is also the husband of a high-ranking employee at Safie. One of the women complained of the harassment to her shift supervisor, who then notified higher-level management and submitted a written report. The allegations of harassment were supported and corroborated by the other victim and a male co-worker. As a result of the complaint, the shift supervisor, male co-worker, and both victims were terminated. The lead processor remained employed until after the initial charge of discrimination was filed with the EEOC.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination and retaliation. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-13270) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking backpay, compensatory and punitive damages, and an injunction against future discrimination and retaliation.
"One does not solve a sexual harassment problem by firing everyone who had the courage to oppose it," said Miles Uhlar, trial attorney for the Detroit Field Office. "Employers must understand such actions will lead to additional legal claims. The EEOC will vigorously protect the rights of employees who are illegally punished for reporting behavior they believe to be harassment."
The Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.