Monday, March 30, 2009

Star Tribune Settles Sex Harassment Case

Employees should never have to endure a sexually hostile work environment in order to earn a paycheck.

These words, spoken by EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru, confirm that while sexual harassment remains a persistent problem in the 21st century workplace, the federal government takes it seriously. "The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a long-standing history of filing lawsuits against employers who allow sexual harassment to occur,” he added.

The EEOC sued the Star Tribune Company, alleging that The Star Tribune created a sexually hostile work environment at its Heritage Production Facility “mail room” for two named women who had filed charges with the EEOC, and a class of similarly situated women.

The women held historically male-dominated jobs of compiling newspapers and placing inserts into them.
The work environment was permeated with ridicule and insult against them, including vulgar comments, dirty jokes and sex-based statements, the EEOC said in the suit.
To settle the lawsuit, the Star Tribune will pay more than $300,000 and significant remedial relief, the EEOC announced. The suit was filed on behalf of female employees at the plant which produces The Star Tribune newspaper, one of the nation’s largest papers.

The Star Tribune also agreed to create a discrimination-free workplace going forward, which is substantial equitable relief.

The EEOC shall maintain oversight on the compliance over the decree’s two-year term. The non-monetary relief agreed to by the company includes:

An injunction against sex harassment or retaliation of its female employees in the mail room;

Employing a supervisor or manager for the mail room for every shift;

Employing a human resources representative who will have responsibility for the human resource function for the mail room, including monitoring and resolving complaints of employees on working conditions in the mail room; and

Providing annual training on preventing sexual harassment and retaliation to its mail room managers and supervisors during the decree’s term.

John Hendrickson, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago, said. “When the EEOC can reach a settlement that reduces the chance of harassment occurring again, and one where no person receiving relief under the consent decree objects, it is a victory for the EEOC, the employer, and current and former employees.”

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