Highway Products Safety Firm to Pay $375,000 to Settle Harassment Lawsuit

A Rochester, N.Y.-based distributor of highway and industrial safety products will pay $375,000 and furnish injunctive relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced. In its lawsuit, EEOC said that owner, president, vice president, and members of the sales staff of American Industrial Sales Corp., doing business as RAK Industries, sexually harassed 18 female employees, including four teenagers. The harassment included inappropriate touching, sexual advances, and vulgar sexual comments, the agency said. Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The consent decree resolving the case was approved on May 13 by U.S. District Judge Michael A. Telesca, providing $375,000 to 18 victims of the harassment and injunctive relief including anti-discrimination training and monitoring. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York on Aug. 22, 2006 (Civil Action No. 06 CV 6426), after the agency investigated, found that discrimination occurred, and first attempted to reach a voluntary settlement.

"The EEOC hopes this settlement encourages employers to take steps to prevent sexual harassment and take effective measures to remedy harassment when it occurs," said Margaret A. Malloy, the EEOC trial attorney assigned to the case. "Women and girls should not have to endure sexual harassment in the workplace, and especially not from the highest levels of the corporation."

EEOC New York District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. said, "We caution companies to be mindful that teenage employees are especially vulnerable to workplace harassment because of their inexperience. Through our national Youth@Work Initiative, the EEOC is shining a public spotlight on the issue of job bias against teens so that young people fully understand their rights and employers voluntarily comply with the law." Information about the Youth@Work campaign, including how to schedule a free Youth@Work outreach presentation, is available on the EEOC Web site at www.eeoc.gov/initiatives/youth/index.html. Specific EEOC-related information for teens is available on the Youth@Work Web site at www.youth.eeoc.gov.

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