Teenage Girl Subjected to Unwanted Sexual Touching and Crude Comments and Company Failed to Stop It, Federal Agency Says
SAN ANTONIO - Mount Vernon Mills, Inc., a Greenville, S.C., textile company with a cotton mill in Cuero, Texas, will pay $70,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC's suit (Case No. 6:11-cv-00052, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Victoria Division) charged that Mount Vernon Mills allowed two male mill workers to subject a teenaged female employee on the overnight shift to sexual harassment. The misconduct included unwelcome sexual touching as well as a pattern of crude statements and company-wide sexual rumors about the girl. The EEOC said the company failed to take appropriate action to address and stop the harassment, even when the teenager repeatedly complained and management was aware of the unlawful conduct.
The two-year consent decree settling the suit, signed by U.S. District Judge Gregg Costas, provides for anti-discrimination training for managers and supervisors at the Cuero facility, as well as payment of $70,000 to the victim.
"Employees absolutely have the right under federal law to work in an environment free of sexual harassment," said Judith G. Taylor, supervisory trial attorney of the EEOC's San Antonio Field Office. "No employer should allow such degrading and shameful conditions for any worker, especially a teenager. Supervisors and managers must ensure that young female workers are safe and that immediate action is taken to identify and rectify sexual misconduct in the workplace."
Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC's Dallas District Office, said, "Some workplaces, shifts or remote assignments make female workers particularly vulnerable to sexual offenses by co-workers and supervisors. We will be keeping a close eye on those situations so that women do not have to be anxious about pursuing that kind of job opportunity in a tough job market."
Janet Elizondo, the EEOC's Dallas District director, added, "Our hope is that young people will learn early on what their rights and protections are in the workplace so that they can later have the knowledge and insight they need during the course of their careers, whatever their occupation."
In fiscal year 2011, 11,364 charges of sexual harassment were filed with the EEOC and state or local agencies nationwide.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.