Louisiana Project Manager Demanded Sex and Fired Employee, Federal Agency Says
NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against Brand Energy & Infrastructure Services, Inc., and related companies (Brand), for sexually harassing and later firing an employee because she refused her boss’s sexual advances and demands, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), the agency announced today. The case arises from the charge of a former Brand employee, who worked for the company at a Louisiana facility doing business under the name of Brand Scaffold Services.
According to the EEOC’s suit (No. 2:10-cv-03306 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana), the employee, whose name the EEOC did not include in its news release for privacy reasons, began working at Brand in June of 2007 at the company’s Conoco Phillips site in Louisiana. Beginning around September of 2007, the Project Manager began to subject the employee to unwanted sexual comments and advances, the suit alleges. That manager later exposed his genitals to the employee, asked her for sexual favors, and touched her buttocks and breasts, according to the lawsuit. The employee called the company’s anonymous hot line to complain about the harassment. The EEOC alleges that the manager eventually told the employee that if she did not have sex with him, she would be laid off. The employee refused, and Brand laid her off shortly thereafter, according to the suit. After Brand terminated the employee, the manager called her several times to offer her job back in exchange for sex, the EEOC alleges. The employee continued to refuse these sexual demands. The EEOC alleges that Brand terminated the employee for refusing the manager’s sexual advances and demands, and for complaining about the harassment.
Sexual harassment, and retaliating against employees who oppose it, violate Title VII. The EEOC filed the lawsuit after efforts to resolve the case through settlement were unsuccessful.
Keith Hill, the field director of the EEOC’s New Orleans office, said, “This is a particularly egregious case of sexual harassment and retaliation. Employees are, under the law, entitled to work free from unwanted sexual advances and sexual battery. They are also, by law, allowed to complain about harassment, free from retaliation. The EEOC will continue to root this kind of illegal activity out.”
Jim Sacher, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Houston, who is in charge of all EEOC litigation in Louisiana, said, “Employees should not have had to endure being sexually objectified by their co-workers and management. The EEOC will take all steps necessary to ensure that employees are respected and free from sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.”
Brand is, according to its website, “the leading diversified provider of specialty multi-craft services to the North American downstream energy infrastructure market.” It is a Delaware corporation based in Georgia. The company’s website states that it has 15,000 skilled craftsmen in 89 locations.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.