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Sexual harassment settlement costs $462,500 for Irvine firm

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

A pool supply company recently agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the EEOC accusing it of sexual har­ass­ment, retaliation and constructive discharge. Irvine-based Aqua Tri will pay $462,500 to 18 Hispanic workers.

In 2009, the EEOC sued Aqua Tri for subjecting Hispanic workers to sexual harassment, retaliation for op­posing the practice and forcing some employees out of their jobs.

The lawsuit alleged that two Aqua Tri supervisors—both Hispanic men—subjected at least eight Hispanic female employees to a sexually hostile work environment. The alleged questionable conduct included inappropriate touching, pressuring the workers for dates and sex and making sexually explicit remarks.

The EEOC also alleged that the two supervisors used promotions as incentives to pressure the workers to have sex with them.

According to the EEOC, Aqua Tri management and HR failed to take any action against the supervisors after several employees complained about their behavior. The company also allegedly retaliated against two women who reported the behavior. According to the complaint, one was demoted and forced to resign, while another was denied overtime, isolated from co-workers and required to do tasks outside her job description.

The lawsuit says several male em­­ployees lost their jobs for supporting the victims’ claims.

The settlement agreement requires Aqua Tri to hire a Spanish-speaking HR specialist and equal employment opportunity consultant to help revise its harassment, discrimination and retaliation complaint policies and procedures. The company must also set up a hotline to handle employee complaints.

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