BALTIMORE – 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 today.
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.
“Employers have a responsibility to maintain an environment free of gender-based harassment and retaliation, which are clearly and simply illegal,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “This settlement provides appropriate relief to the victims while implementing measures to prohibit this type of misconduct in the future.”
In fiscal year 2010, the EEOC received 29,029 sex-based charges and 30,948 retaliation charges filed under Title VII.