U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Company Fired Worker for Complaints About Gender-Based Abuse, Federal Agency Charges
BALTIMORE -- The Bell Company / The Bell Company, LLC, violated federal law when it fired a skilled female equipment operator and materials handler for complaining about discrimination because of her sex, female, the U.W. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
In its suit the EEOC charged The Bell Company, a privately held New York company and The Bell Company, LLC, a Delaware limited-liability company that provides construction services to the U.S Army at its Aberdeen, Md., location, fired Elaine Cusato after she complained about a hostile work environment because of her gender. The EEOC said that on a daily basis, Cusato was subjected to criticism by her supervisor, the plumbing crew foreman, about her work with vehemence, aggression and profanity that was not directed at male workers. These incidents, which were witnessed and known by her chain of command, included throwing a shovel at her, cursing at her in front of co-workers, subcontractors and site inspectors and repeatedly calling her sexually offensive names. Cusato’s complaints to human resource officials intensified the foreman’s sex-based offensive treatment towards her and culminated in her retaliatory discharge.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on sex and retaliation for complaining about it. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-01342-BEL) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief, including policies, procedures and training to prevent future workplace discrimination. The EEOC also seeks to have the company compensate Cusato for her monetary losses and emotional pain and humiliation.
“Federal law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment because of sex,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “The EEOC will strongly pursue employers who fragrantly disregard federal law as women attempt to move into traditionally male-dominated occupations.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.