Company Failed to Act on Multiple Complaints About Assistant Manager, Federal Agency Charges
DETROIT – Menard, Inc., which operates over 300 Menards home improvement stores in 14 states, violated federal law by subjecting female employees to sexual harassment at its Wixom, Mich., location, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a hardware department manager received a complaint that his assistant manager was sending pornographic messages to a female subordinate. The female employee showed one of the messages to management and indicated she did not feel comfortable working alone with the assistant manager. The department manager chose not to investigate the incident or reprimand the assistant manager, opting instead to tell the assistant manager “not to dip his pen in company ink.” The assistant manager continued to harass female employees, the EEOC said.
Close to a year later, a different female employee complained to the department manager about a pornographic message she had received from the assistant manager. The department manager failed again to act on the complaint and the assistant manager continued to harass female employees with additional pornographic messages and inappropriate physical contact.
Approximately a year and a half after the initial complaint, when another complaint was made to human resources and the assistant general manager, the assistant manager was finally investigated, admitted to the harassment, and was terminated.
Subjecting employees to sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, in the workplace. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 2:20-cv-11240) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief to prevent future harassment.
“Companies have a responsibility under the law to take sexual harassment complaints seriously and investigate them promptly,” said Miles Uhlar, trial attorney for the Detroit Field Office. “While Menards eventually addressed the harassment, management’s failure to act on several complaints allowed the harassment to continue for over a year.”
The Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.