Yarn Company Suspended Woman for Complaining About Abuse, Federal Agency Charged
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A North Carolina yarn manufacturing company violated federal law by subjecting an employee to sexual harassment and then retaliating against her for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
In its suit, the EEOC said that from around April 2007 to December 2007, Tuscarora Yarns, Inc. subjected Lilia Ixtlahuaca Martinez to sexual harassment by the male then-plant manager at its Oakboro, N.C., facility. According to the suit, the plant manager propositioned Martinez for sex, made unwelcome sexual comments to her, inappropriately touched and then sexually assaulted her. The complaint further alleges that when Martinez complained about the misconduct, Tuscarora Yarns disciplined and suspended her in retaliation for her complaints. Martinez worked for Tuscarora Yarns at its Oakboro plant as a linked winder operator for about two years.
Tuscarora Yarns employs over 200 people and operates plants in Mt. Pleasant, Oakboro and China Grove, N.C. The company produces cotton and synthetic and blended yarns.
“This case involves unlawful conduct that cannot be tolerated in any workplace: egregious sexual harassment and sexual assault,” said Tina Burnside, supervisory trial attorney who is litigating the case for the EEOC. “All employees have the right to work in an environment that is free from sexual harassment – and to complain about unlawful behavior without the fear of retaliation.”
Lynette A. Barnes, the regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office, added, “This case is particularly troubling because not only did Tuscarora Yarns’ management fail to deal with a sexual assault, it punished the victim by removing her from the work force. The EEOC will vigorously prosecute cases where an employer makes a bad situation worse instead of solving it.”
Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit ((Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Tuscarora Yarns, Inc., Civ. No. 1:09-cv-217 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The EEOC seeks an injunction to stop Tuscarora Yarns from engaging in any employment practice which discriminates on the basis of sex or retaliation. The suit also seeks monetary damages for Martinez.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on March 30, 2009.
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