California Company Failed to Address a Sexually Hostile Work Environment Created by a Manager, Federal Agency Charged
FRESNO, Calif. – Bakersfield, Calif.-based Braun Electric Company will pay $82,500 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. Braun Electric provides industrial electrical services for the oil and gas industry throughout California’s San Joaquin Valley.
According to the EEOC’s suit, a male manager at Braun’s Belridge, Calif., location continually subjected female workers to a hostile work environment since 2010. The EEOC said the manager made daily grotesque remarks of a sexual nature to female subordinates and made explicit sexual propositions on a continual basis. Braun’s management failed to adequately address reports of harassment, and supervisors failed to report incidents of harassment they witnessed. One female employee was forced to quit as a result of the ongoing hostile work environment, according to the EEOC.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in September 2012 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Braun Electric Company, Case No. 1:12-cv-01592 LJO SMS) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Pursuant to the three-year consent decree settling the suit, aside from the monetary relief obtained for the victims, Braun Electric agreed to retain an experienced, external equal employment opportunity monitor to review and revise its existing policies and procedures with respect to discrimination, harassment and retaliation. The company further agreed to provide annual training for all staff on employee rights with respect to gender discrimination, harassment and retaliation and provide additional annual training for supervisory staff on how to adequately address such complaints. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the decree.
“The policies, procedures, training, and monitoring that Braun Electric has agreed to put in place will go a long way toward protecting employees from harassment,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes California’s Central Valley. “We encourage employers to ensure proper handling of complaints of harassment.”
Melissa Barrios, director for the EEOC’s Fresno’s Local Office, added, “As agents of the employer, supervisors and managers should act as role models and promote an environment free of harassment. Employers should make sure that supervisory staff is trained not only on the laws against workplace harassment, but also on how to effectively prevent and address such issues.”
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.