The amount of $675,000 will be paid by Atlantic Capes Fisheries, Inc. (ACF), a New Jersey-based shellfish harvester and processor, and BJ’s Service Co., Inc. a staffing agency, along with providing other relief to settle a lawsuit charging sex-based harassment filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In addition to complying with the law, ACF and BJ’s must provide policy changes and training to educate their workforce about their rights under Title VII. Exemplifying best employment practices includes the emphasis that all employers should know they have a responsibility to prevent sexual harassment of their employees. There should be multiple avenues for employees to complain about harassment. Those ways of communication should be clear when shared with all staff. According to the EEOC’s suit, there was knowledge of the pervasive harassment but neither ACF nor BJ’s made any efforts to stop the harassment or punish the harassers. The four women filing discrimination charges with the EEOC alerted the agency about sexual harassment that was adversely affecting many of the female co-workers in the facility. According to the EEOC’s suit, women at the facility have been subject to ongoing sexual harassment since at least 2013. The alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The four-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit has terms for any women who have worked at ACF’s facility at any time since January 2013 and who have experienced sexual harassment will be eligible to receive a portion of the settlement. The decree is requiring both employers to revise or create policies prohibiting sexual discrimination including harassment and provide training to their managers and workers. The training and policies must be in both English and Spanish. Both employers are also required by the decree to track, retain, and investigate complaints of sexual harassment and to provide copies of those complaints to the EEOC for the duration of the decree. The decree also requires a human resources professional employed by ACF who is bilingual in English and Spanish. The filing of the lawsuit by the EEOC in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts was on September 27, 2017, after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.