Company Fired Employees for Reporting and/or Verifying Sexual Harassment, Federal Agency Charged
DETROIT, MI (STL.News) Safie Specialty Foods Company, Inc., which pickles vegetables in Chesterfield Township, Mich., will pay $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Safie Specialty Foods subjected two female production workers, one of whom was a temporary employee, to a sexually hostile work environment. The women were targets of sexual advances and comments by the lead food processing employee, who is also the husband of a manager at Safie. The temporary employee complained about the harassment to her shift supervisor, who then notified higher-level management and submitted a written report. The allegations of harassment were corroborated by the other victim and a male temporary employee. In response to the complaint, however, Safie fired the shift supervisor, the male temporary employee, and both victims. Then, after the temporary employee filed her discrimination charge, Safie terminated the lead food processor.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Safie Specialty Foods Company, Inc., Case No. 2:18-cv-13270) against Safie in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to providing monetary relief to the former employees, the four-year consent decree settling the suit requires Safie to provide annual sexual harassment training to all employees, submit regular reports to the Commission regarding internal sexual harassment complaints and any action taken to address the complaints, and modify the company’s sexual harassment policy and procedure.
“It takes courage for a temporary employee to report sexual harassment by a superior or favorite of management,” said Miles Uhlar, trial attorney for the EEOC’s Detroit Field Office. “The EEOC understands this and will continue to protect the rights of such people, particularly against employers who fire the victim rather than addressing the behavior of the harasser.”