Illinois Hog Farm Sued for Gender Identity Discrimination

April 3, 2024

Sis-Bro, Inc., a hog farm in New Athens, Illinois, violated federal law when it allowed an employee to be harassed because of her sex and gender identity, forcing her to quit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, the targeted employee, who was a high performer, began her transition in 2018. From that time, Sis-Bro’s co-owner made frequent, derogatory comments about the targeted employee’s gender identity; the co-owner refused to call the targeted employee by her name and referred to her by her former name; repeatedly told her she was “a guy”; and criticized her use of employer-provided health insurance and leave for gender affirming care.

Further, Sis-Bro failed to stop aggressive sexual harassment by a fellow employee. Beginning in October 2020, a newly hired employee exposed his genitals to the targeted employee, touched her breasts on one occasion, attempted to touch her breasts on other occasions and made frequent unwanted comments and sexual advances towards her.

Much of this behavior occurred openly in the presence of other employees. Sis-Bro did not have a policy for reporting harassment. Despite this, at least one employee reported the harassment to the co-owner, but the co-owner did not take any steps to address the harassment. This behavior continued until the targeted employee was forced to quit.

Such alleged conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex. Harassment based on gender identity is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the statute. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Sis-Bro, Inc., Case No. 3:24-cv-968) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, East St. Louis Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process.

Source: EEOC

Topics Lawsuits Agribusiness Illinois

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