An Ohio trucking company violated federal law by subjecting two gay mechanics to harassment and termination because of their sexual orientation and retaliated against them for opposing or complaining about the harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, beginning in late 2018 workers and supervisors at Transport America’s facility in North Jackson, Ohio harassed two mechanics because they are gay. The harassment included frequent use of gay slurs and other derogatory comments, physical violence and other inappropriate contact, defacement of uniforms, and other hostile behavior.
The EEOC alleges the companies’ human resources and management officials were aware of the harassment but failed to take effective action to stop it and prevent it from recurring. Instead, the EEOC said, after the mechanics reported the harassment, the shop manager threatened that anyone who went to human resources would lose their job. The mechanics suffered further harassment and retaliation, including destruction of personal property, unfavorable assignments, false accusations, and discharge or being forced to quit.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination because of sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity, and retaliation for opposing discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. TA Dedicated, Inc. d/b/a Transport America and TForce TL Holdings USA, Inc. d/b/a Transportation Enterprise Services, Case No. 1:23-cv-01802) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process.
The EEOC is seeking permanent injunctive relief prohibiting the companies from discriminating against employees because of sexual orientation or retaliating against them because of protected activity in the future, lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and other relief.
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