U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Manufacturer Failed to Stop Co-Worker’s Harassment of Women, Federal Agency Charges
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Rock-Tenn Company, a packaging manufacturer in Conway, Ark., will pay $160,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No. 4:08-CV-3127) charged that Rock-Tenn violated federal anti-discrimination law when it failed to take effective action to prevent the sexual harassment of female employees by a male co-worker. Although the company investigated the complaint, the EEOC said the harassment continued. The EEOC also contended that one of the women had been forced to resign due to the ongoing harassment.
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
“The EEOC remains committed to aggressively pursuing remedies for victims of sexual harassment in any work setting,” said Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and certain counties in Mississippi. “No one, man or woman, should have to endure such abuse in any workplace, whether factory, farm or Wall Street brokerage firm. The women who stood up to this misconduct have seen their courage vindicated.”
Pamela B. Dixon, an EEOC trial attorney, added, “Even though Rock-Tenn denied that it had violated the law, we are pleased that the parties worked cooperatively to resolve this lawsuit.”
In addition to the monetary relief, the consent decree settling the suit, approved by U.S. District Judge Brian S. Miller, enjoins Rock-Tenn from further discriminating against employees at its Conway facility on the basis of sex. Rock-Tenn will provide sexual harassment training to all personnel and post a notice reinforcing the company’s policies on Title VII. Rock-Tenn will also submit reports to the EEOC for a two-year period describing any complaints of sexual harassment, the investigation conducted by Rock-Tenn in response to each complaint and how Rock-Tenn resolved the complaint. Also, in the event of a complaint of sexual harassment at the Conway facility, Rock-Tenn will retrain all of the parties involved in the complaint on the requirements of Title VII with regard to sexual harassment.
According to its website, Rock-Tenn Company is one of North America's leading manufacturers of paperboard, containerboard, consumer and corrugated packaging. The company’s Conway plant manufactures consumer packaging which is primarily used for food packaging.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.