EEOC Sues SMX Staffing Company for Sexual Harassment
Male Supervisor Harassed Female Workers, Demanded Sex and Exposed Himself, Federal Agency Charges
ST. LOUIS - An international staffing company violated federal law when it allowed a manager at a Kansas City, Kan., worksite to repeatedly sexually harass female workers on a manufacturing line, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed in federal court.
According to the EEOC's suit, a male account manager for Staff Management | SMX repeatedly made explicit sexual comments to female employees and demanded sexual favors. The harassment occurred at a Procter & Gamble manufacturing plant in Kansas City, Kan., where Staff Management | SMX hired and supervised employees who boxed soap for shipping.
One female employee, Jaurdai Walker, reported that the manager repeatedly called her "baby," told her she was "sexy," and asked her for oral sex in exchange for paid time off. She refused and reported the harassment to another supervisor, who told her she should "screw him" and take the extra pay. The harassment continued, and on one occasion the account manager exposed his genitals to Walker, according to the suit. After she reported the harassment again to a different supervisor, Staff Management | SMX conducted an investigation, but the company allowed the manager to return to work. The manager later threatened Walker and demanded to know why she reported his misconduct, the suit alleged. Other male employees also intimidated Walker because she reported the harassment. Walker was so traumatized by these actions and Staff Management | SMX's failure to protect her that she was forced to quit her job.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, Case No. 2:18-cv-02058, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation resolution through the agency's conciliation process.
"As the #MeToo movement has made all too clear, sexual harassment in the workplace is not limited to one industry, certain types of workers, by geographic area," said Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for the EEOC's St. Louis District. "But there is one thing every case of sexual harassment has in common - that it can only be stopped when victims and bystanders speak up and break the silence."
James R. Neely, Jr., director of the EEOC's St. Louis District, said, "Employers - including staffing firms - are responsible for ensuring their workplaces are free from any type of sexual harassment. Companies that tolerate sexual harassment - or fail to adequately punish harassers - do so with blatant disregard for the law."
Staff Management | SMX is a subsidiary of Tacoma, Wash.-based True Blue, Inc., which, according to its website, is the largest industrial staffing company in the United States. Staff Management | SMX provides temporary and seasonal workers to other companies throughout North America.
The EEOC advances opportunity by enforcing federal laws prohibiting workplace discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.