$230,000 Settlement Against Bell Company for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation, Training Ordered

 
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
 

Question:  Would sex discrimination training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

A construction company that provides services to the U.S. Army at its Aberdeen, Md., location will pay $230,000 and furnish other substantial relief to settle an EEOC gender-based abuse and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced.

In its suit the EEOC charged that Bell BCI, LLC and the Bell Company, LLC, both doing business as “The Bell Company,” violated federal law by subjecting Elaine Cusato to a sexually hostile and offensive work environment while she was employed as a skilled equipment operator. The EEOC said that Cusato was subjected to daily criticism by her supervisor, the plumbing crew foreman, with a vehemence, aggression and profanity that was not directed at male workers. Further, the EEOC charged that when mechanical foreman Timothy Shultz refused to fire Cusato solely because she was considered a “troublemaker” for complaining about the sex discrimination, both were fired as retaliation.

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 Nos. 1:10-cv-01342 and 1:10-cv-02710) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, after first attempting to reach a settlement out of court through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief to Cusato and Shultz, the consent decree requires that the Bell Company provide significant remedial relief:

  • Bell’s supervisors, managers and officers and all persons with human resource oversight are enjoined from sexually harassing or condoning the sexual harassment of any employee retaliating against any employee who complains of or opposes sexual harassment;
  • Bell will implement and maintain written policies and procedures for its work sites prohibiting employment discrimination, including sex discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation;
  • The company will distribute a copy of its written policies and procedures to all current and future employees;
  • Bell will post and maintain a poster at its work sites affirming its commitment to maintaining an environment free of discriminatory, harassing or retaliatory behavior; and,
  • Provide anti-discrimination training to all salaried field construction employees, superintendent-level and higher, of two hours’ duration.
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