Company Fired Female Employee in Retaliation for Complaints About Sexual Harassment, Federal Agency Charges
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Daimler Trucks North America, LLC, a Delaware corporation that operates a manufacturing plant in Mt. Holly, N.C., violated federal law by firing a female employee because she complained about sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's complaint, April Holt worked at Daimler's Mt. Holly plant as a truck assembler. Around Dec. 5, 2012, a male co-worker of Holt's asked her if he could borrow her wrench. Holt was bent over a truck on the assembly line at the time, and the top of the wrench extended out of Holt's back pants pocket. Before Holt could respond, the co-worker reached into Holt's back pants pocket with a flat hand and removed the wrench, while rubbing his hand over Holt's buttocks. Holt complained to her team leader that her co-worker touched her buttocks and the team leader relayed Holt's complaint to the defendant's production supervisor. The EEOC charged that the very next day, Daimler made the decision to discharge Holt, who was notified of the decision on or around Dec. 13. The EEOC said Holt was fired because she complained about what she reasonably believed constituted sexual harassment.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who complain about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Daimler Trucks North America, LLC, Civil Action No. 3:14-CV-00554) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Holt, as well as injunctive relief.
"People who complain about behavior that they reasonably believe to be harassment should be free to do so without threat of reprisal," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "The EEOC will continue to litigate complaints of retaliation made by employees who are simply attempting to protect their rights."
According to the company's website, Daimler Trucks North America LLC is the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and is a leading producer of medium-duty trucks. The company employs more than 20,000 people nationwide.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.