“Sexual harassment is the toxic waste of the workplace."
These words, spoken by EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill, came on the heels of the EEOC's victory this week in a federal court sexual harassment case against Sunfire Glass, Inc. According to the EEOC:
A federal district court today entered a Federal Court Judgment for over $267,000 and significant injunctive relief in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a discrimination lawsuit against Sunfire Glass, Inc. The EEOC’s suit charged that the company’s owner subjected a class of female employees to severe physical and
verbal sexual harassment in violation of federal law.
Judge Lawrence O. Anderson found that Sunfire owner Paul
McBride sexually harassed two female glassblowers by touching the women on their breasts and between their legs, hitting the women on the buttocks, making obscene gestures, and verbally harassing the women by talking about their bodies and using vulgar language. At times, the court also found McBride would touch the women while they were working with hot glass and were unable to defend themselves against McBride’s advances. The two women, Tineke Meyer and Karina Mercado, complained repeatedly to management, and no action was
taken. As a result of the abuse, both Meyer and Mercado were forced to resign.
The EEOC’s suit (EEOC v. Sunfire Glass, Inc., Civ. 08-1784 PHX-LOA) was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona in September 2008. Despite receiving notice of the lawsuit, McBride failed to submit an answer to the litigation or otherwise appear in the case, and the court entered a default judgment against the company.
The court, in making very specific findings of fact and conclusions of law, awarded Tineke Meyer the equitable remedy of back pay plus
prejudgment interest through March 12, 2009, in the sum of $60,287; compensatory damages in the sum of $50,000; and punitive damages in the sum of $50,000; totaling $160,287 in damages against Sunfire Glass, Inc. The court also ordered post-judgment interest at the legal rate until paid in full. Additionally, the court awarded Karina Mercado the equitable remedy of back pay plus prejudgment interest through March 20, 2009, in the sum of $6,781; compensatory damages in the sum of $50,000; and punitive damages in the sum of $50,000; totaling $106,781 in damages against Sunfire Glass, Inc.
For more information about this case see the EEOC's press release.