Mueller Co., a nationwide manufacturer and seller of gas and water distribution products, and IH Services, Inc., which provides cleaning services in Mueller facilities, has agreed to pay $150,000 and provide other relief to settle allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced.
According to the lawsuit, IH Services assigned three female janitors to work at Mueller’s Albertville, Alabama, fire hydrant manufacturing plant. Several male Mueller employees solicited these female employees for sex, exposed their genitals and made sexual comments about the women’s bodies and sex lives. The EEOC further alleged that one Mueller employee attempted to rape one of the female janitors.
After the women complained to multiple IH Services and Mueller managers, IH Services retaliated against two of them by reducing their hours, making them work overnight shifts, and suspending or terminating them, according to the EEOC.
This alleged conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits an employer from permitting a hostile work environment based on sex and retaliating against those who complain about Title VII violations. The EEOC filed suit against Mueller Co. and IH Services, Inc. in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama after its Birmingham District office completed an investigation and first attempted to reach a settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.
Now, under a three-year consent decree, in addition to monetary relief for the victims, both companies will revise their sexual harassment and retaliation policies and post them in prominent locations for all employees. Both companies will also provide annual training on their sexual harassment and retaliation policies and employee rights under Title VII.
“Under Title VII, employers must provide a workplace free from severe or pervasive sexual harassment,” said EEOC Birmingham District Director Bradley Anderson. “Companies like Mueller do not get a free pass when its employees harass individuals who are employed by another company. Likewise, employers like IH Services are liable for sex harassment of their employees even when the harasser is not its employee.”
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