What's worse than having the EEOC sue your company for sexual harassment? Having it happen twice.
The EEOC issued a press release yesterday that it settled a sexual harassment suit with Galt, Iowa based Quality Egg, LLC owned and operated by the Austin "Jack" DeCoster Revocable Trust for $85,000. The company is no longer operational. In 2002, the EEOC sued Austin J. DeCoster d/b/a DeCoster Farms for subjecting undocumented female employees to a sexually hostile environment, including sexual assault and rape by supervisors. DeCoster Farms operated at the same location as Quality Egg. The 2002 lawsuit resulted in a settlement of $1,525,000.00 to be paid to 11 women and Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) who brought charges against the company on behalf of the women. The settlement was one of the EEOC's largest recoveries in fiscal year 2003.
From the allegations in the 2002 case, it appears that management were the perpetrators of the harassment and assaults. While it appears from the recent case that management realized that it should not engage in harassment, it failed to recognize that it had a duty to prevent harassment as well. The EEOC press release states, "Quality Egg failed to take advantage of the early warning signs and sexual harassment was permitted to continue. The EEOC will take appropriate action to protect workers from egregious sexual harassment if an employer fails to do so."
Sexual harassment is serious and any complaints or information regarding such conduct should be investigated immediately with appropriate action taken at the conclusion of the investigation. Don't sit back and wait for the EEOC to knock on your door.