In order to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a North Dakota civil construction company has been ordered to pay $59,000.
The lawsuit alleged Keller Paving Landscaping Inc., operating in Minot, was creating a hostile work environment for a female employee that included numerous incidents of sexual harassment. Based on the tough working conditions, she was forced to resign.
The company employed Jennifer Gerard, from June to October 2013, as a truck driver. During the short time she was employed, she was sexually harassed by several male coworkers. Some of the harassment included telling Gerard that she should be at home taking care of her kids instead of at the workplace. One incident alleges that a male coworker touched her on the shoulder and leg. Another incident included a male coworker asking Gerard to perform oral sex on him.
Even after complaining to both owners and her site manager, the harassment continued. When the conditions became too intolerable, Gerard quit.
The allegations Gerard had against the company are a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act helps protects employees facing discrimination based on their sex, color, religion, race, or national origin, and it also includes protection against sexual harassment.
When a pre-litigation settlement could not be reached, the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota, and on June 4, 2018, a U.S. District Judge signed the order. The $59,000 includes monetary relief to Gerard. As part of the settlement, Keller also has to revise its policies and include in the company handbook a way to complain about sexual harassment. In addition to having complaint procedures that are clearly outlined in the employee handbook, there will be required training. The company will need to train its management on Title VII. The training will include prohibitions against sexual harassment. Non-management employees will be trained on their rights under Title VII, which include being able to file discrimination charges with the EEOC. The company must report on any complaints of sexual harassment during a two-year period in order to comply with the EEOC.