EEOC flexes muscle with 5 harassment suits

The EEOC wants to make it clear: Regardless of which way the political winds blow, it still takes workplace harassment seriously. Reconvening its Select Task Force on Sexual Harassment is only one part of the anti-harassment push.

The EEOC has also filed lawsuits against five different employers in a single week, accusing them of various types of harassment.

1. Gulf Coast shipbuilder Master Marine faces charges of race and same-sex harassment after it allegedly failed to address complaints filed by a welder of Asian ancestry. A supervisor is accused of making racist comments and unwanted sexual advances to the welder. The supervisor is also accused of using racial epithets against three black employees.

2. The EEOC alleges that Real Time Staffing Services in New Mexico turned a deaf ear to women it assigned to work at the Albuquerque Police Department. Police supervisors allegedly called the women “prostitutes” and “sluts” while subjecting them to unwanted touching.

3. In Dallas, a lawsuit alleges a supervisor for Screen Tight, regularly followed a female custodian into restrooms as she cleaned them and tried to force himself on her. The suit alleges a company vice-president subjected the woman to verbal abuse.

4. A California Tapioca Express franchise owner faces charges he touched and made suggestive comments to female employees.

5. The EEOC also sued a Ohio construction clean-up firm, alleging a supervisor touched, harassed, and stalked a female employee.

These suits mark a recent uptick in legal action by the EEOC. The commission is clearly sensitive to the publicity the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have generated and plans to be aggressive in litigating harassment complaints.

Advice: Investigate every harassment allegation promptly. If you don’t, harassed employees will clearly find a sympathetic ear at the EEOC.