Century-old, New York City-based building maintenance giant ABM has reached an agreement with the EEOC to settle sexual harassment charges stemming from its operations in California’s Central Valley.

The alleged harassment included unwanted touching, men exposing themselves to female employees and rape. At least one of the perpetrators was a registered sex offender. The EEOC says the perpetrators continued to harass women despite complaints to management.

In 2007, the EEOC sued ABM in federal court. The company agreed to settle rather than have the case go before a jury.

In addition to paying money damages, ABM must:

  • Designate an outside equal employment opportunity monitor to ensure the effectiveness of its investigations, complaint policies and procedures and deliver anti-harassment training to employees
  • Ensure that company harassment complaint officials have the training to investigate internal discrimination, harassment and retaliation complaints
  • Establish a toll-free hotline to receive harassment and retaliation complaints
  • Conduct internal compliance audits at work sites
  • Closely track any future discrimination complaints to ensure compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws
  • Ensure that employees are not subjected to harassment and retaliation.

Note: Employers must respond to harassment complaints and investigate promptly and fairly. In this case, the behavior went beyond harassment to criminal assault. Employers have an obligation to provide a safe, harassment-free workplace to everyone. For harassment and assault victims, relief delayed is relief denied.

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