Eden Foods, Inc, a natural foods company based in Clinton, Michigan, will pay more than $182,500 to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to obtain relief for former employees.
According to the EEOC lawsuit, Eden’s male owner and president touched multiple female employees inappropriately on their backs, shoulders and legs, sometimes sitting with his leg pressed up against a female employee for hours at a time. He kissed multiple female employees without their consent and touched at least one on the buttocks.
The owner also regularly made lewd comments, injected sex into marketing materials, and referred to females in crude sexual terms. Multiple employees complained to the company HR representative, who confronted the owner. In response, he laughed and said, “all these girls want me.”
Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Eden Foods, Inc., Case No: 2:22-cv-10881) in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The EEOC’s complaint asserted sexual harassment claims with respect to a marketing department manager and three additional female employees. The manager then filed an intervening complaint, which included claims for retaliation and wrongful discharge.
The 3½-half year consent decree resolving the lawsuit requires Eden Foods to pay $182,500 in compensatory damages to be distributed among the three additional female employees. Eden Foods will also pay substantial additional monetary compensation to the marketing department manager.
Eden Foods must provide annual training to management (including the owner), submit annual reports to the EEOC, and maintain a hotline for employees to report complaints.
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