Aqua Tri has agreed to pay nearly half a million dollars to settle a federal lawsuit that accused two supervisors at the Irvine pool supply company of sexually harassing eight Latina workers, retaliating when the women sought to end it and forcing some out of their jobs, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today. The supervisors were Hispanic men who made sexually explicit remarks, touched the women inappropriately, pressured them for dates and offered job promotions in exchange for sex, the EEOC adds.
Although two of the women reported the harassment to Aqua Tri's plant manager and human resources manager, no action was taken against the brutes. Instead, one of the complaining women was demoted (she ultimately quit in protest), while the other was denied overtime, isolated from her co-workers and given tasks outside her job description like cleaning plant toilets, according to the EEOC.
Getting no remedy at work, the women filed a discrimination complaint with the EEOC in 2008. The federal agency later discovered seven male Hispanic workers who were perceived to have supported the women's claims were fired or laid off after a 2009 internal investigation by the supplier of pool sanitizing chemicals and other pool products.
"Although the company cited a 'lack of work' for the layoffs, the EEOC found that the staff, which had good performance records, was replaced by new hires within just a couple of months," reads an EEOC statement on the settlement.
Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, notes the EEOC, which originally filed its lawsuit against Aqua Tri in September 2009 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The two sides then set about trying to reach a settlement to avoid trial.
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In addition to paying $462,500 to resolve the suit, Aqua Tri haas agreed to establish and hire a Spanish-speaking human resources specialist and equal employment opportunity (EEO) consultant to assist with revising the company's complaint policies and procedures with respect to the handling of harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace in both English and Spanish.
The company must also create a complaint hotline for workers, train all employees on their rights under Title VII in both English and Spanish (with specialized training for supervisors), include compliance to EEO policies in performance evaluations of supervisors and report all discrimination and harassment complaints to the EEOC.
"We commend Aqua Tri for implementing aggressive injunctive relief measures to ensure this will not happen again," Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office, says in the statement.
Sounds as if Aqua Tri didn't have a choice.