Texas-based Southland Contracting Inc. and two related companies must pay $200,000 and train all their employees to prevent sexual harassment as part of a legal settlement announced today in the case of a female employee in Honolulu.
A lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in U.S. District Court in Hawaii alleged that the woman was sexually harassed by male supervisors and co-workers and when she complained, she was retaliated against and felt she had to resign.
The suit was filed against Southland Contracting, Mole Constructors, Inc., and Southland Mole JV, which specialize in excavating tunnels and installing utilities. Sexual harassment and retaliation violate the Civil Rights Act.
The consent decree gives the court jurisdiction over the case for three years to ensure that the companies comply with a range of measures to ensure women are treated fairly in the workplace.
“The EEOC is committed to preventing and correcting harassment in all workplaces, including in industries like construction where women are underrepresented,” said Glory Gervacio Saure, director for the EEOC’s Honolulu local office. “We encourage all women, especially those in female-underpopulated industries, to come forward if they are facing harassment or discrimination.”
As part of the agreement, Southland Contracting will:
>>revise employment practices to ensure they comply with federal law
>>provide in-person training for all employees on sexual harassment and retaliation “including bystander and civility training”
>>create a 1-800 number complaint hotline
>>conduct surveys to spot potential harassment
>>retain an external Equal Employment Opportunity consultant and an internal EEO coordinator to oversee compliance with terms of the consent decree.
“The EEOC commends Southland Contracting for agreeing to comprehensive injunctive remedies to ensure that sexual harassment and retaliation will not occur there in the future,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District which includes Hawaii. “We hope other employers follow suit and recognize the need to both train staff on how to appropriately deal with sexual harassment and have mechanisms in place to monitor if such harassment is occurring.”