US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sues Norman company, staffing agency over firing of female employee

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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued a Norman company for allegedly firing a female employee after sexual harassment complaints.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against a manufacturing company and temporary staffing agency after a female employee in Norman was allegedly fired following complaints of sexual harassment.

Johnson Controls, Inc., a company that produces HVAC, fire and other safety equipment for buildings, and the temporary staffing agency ManpowerGroup, Inc., allegedly fired a female employee after she filed a written complaint detailing explicit sexual harassment by a male employee at a Johnson Controls manufacturing facility in Norman, according to an EEOC press release. The employee was hired temporarily through ManpowerGroup and was working at a Johnson Controls facility.

The male employee allegedly threatened sexual assault and “made belittling comments” about women, according to the release, in addition to telling the female employee “he wanted to have sex with her teenage daughter.”

After management did not act when she reported the conduct in person, the female employee submitted a written complaint, according to the release, and said she was fired shortly after. According to the release, Johnson Controls alleges the female employee was fired for misconduct, but a male employee “accused of similar conduct” was reportedly not disciplined.

“Employers cannot attempt to avoid liability for workplace by using temporary staffing services,” Andrea Baran, the EEOC regional attorney in St. Louis, said in the release. “Staffing companies have a responsibility to protect their workers from harassment and retaliation, too.”

The firing would be a violation of federal law, according to the release, specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and retaliating against an employee for reporting it.”

The EEOC filed a lawsuit in September against a Norman car dealership, Landers Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, when the dealership’s new management reportedly hired all sales staff from the previous owners except for the lone female salesperson. The female salesperson alleged that a Landers executive said “this is not a lady’s job yet.”

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