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PRESS RELEASE
10-1-09

Mason County Forest Products Sued By EEOC For Sex Discrimination And Retaliation

Female Workers Told They ‘Don’t Belong Here,’ Harassed and Fired Due to Gender, Federal Agency Charges

SEATTLE — A Western Washington saw and wood planing mill, Mason County Forest Products, violated federal law when a crew manager sexually harassed female employees and fired two women because of their gender, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. One of the women was terminated also in retaliation for opposing the discrimination, according to the agency.

The EEOC’s suit charges that a male manager at the Mason County Forest Products mill in Shelton, Wash., sexually harassed at least two of his female supervisees and perhaps others. According to the federal agency’s investigation, the manager repeatedly made crude comments about women, body parts and intercourse, assigned female employees more menial tasks, and treated women more harshly than men, using an edge of physical intimidation. Ultimately, he fired the two women from his crew, resulting in the all-male work team he frequently announced as his ideal. One woman was dismissed as soon as he learned of her effort to report his discrimination.

Sexual harassment, retaliation, and terminating employees because of their gender violate Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed the suit (Case No.C09-5609-RBL) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court. The EEOC seeks monetary damages on behalf of the workers, training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the work site, and other injunctive relief.

EEOC Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, “Women in non-traditional jobs often face obstacles in their careers, including the biased attitudes of some men who abuse their power over them. We hope that this lawsuit will send notice to employers in the timber industry to stop abuses of supervisory power.”

EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado stated, “The treatment that these women experienced was inexcusable. The EEOC has filed suit to help deter future violations of the law."

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.