Cargo Company Subjected Female Employees to Unwelcome Touching & Fired Male Employee Who Complained on Their Behalf, Federal Agency Charges
CHICAGO - Alliance Ground International, a cargo handling company with operations at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, violated federal law when it failed to address complaints from multiple women about being sexual harassed by a male supervisor, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The lawsuit also charged that Alliance Ground unlawfully fired a male employee in retaliation for his complaints on behalf of women whom he observed being harassed.
Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago, who managed the federal agency's pre-suit administrative investigation, said the EEOC's investigation revealed that a male supervisor subjected Nydia Josten and other women to unwanted touching and sexual advances. The investigation further revealed that a male co-worker who reported the harassment to Alliance Ground was promptly terminated in retaliation for his advocacy on the women's behalf.
Josten complained to Alliance Ground about sexual harassment, Bowman said. Rather than responding to Josten's complaint by investigating and possibly disciplining the harasser, Alliance Ground ignored the complaint, and the harasser continued to harass Josten as well as other women, Bowman said. Furthermore, Alliance Ground fired a male employee shortly after he reported the pervasive harassment that he observed in the workplace.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation in employment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Alliance Ground International, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-6598) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Sept. 27th after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Charles R. Norgle, Sr. The EEOC is seeking full relief, including reinstatement, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and non-monetary measures to correct Alliance Ground's practices going forward.
"Alliance Ground had multiple opportunities to take action in response to complaints about the sexual harassment perpetrated by its supervisor, but it chose not to act," said Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC's Chicago District Office. "By ignoring the complaints, Alliance Ground put its female employees in harm's way and the company at risk of this lawsuit."
According to company information, Alliance Ground performs cargo, mail and ramp handling services for multiple clients at several major U.S. airports, including O'Hare. Alliance Ground employs approximately 1,500 workers across its operations, with over 100 based in Chicago.
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
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.