Promens USA Inc. has agreed to pay $225,000 to four women to settle a sexual-discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC has announced.
U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang in Chicago entered a consent decree settling the case July 28.
The women worked at the former Bonar Plastics rotational molding plant in West Chicago, Ill., that was acquired by Promens hf, based in Kópavogur, Iceland, in 2005.
EEOC said the violations occurred during the five years that Promens owned the factory. In 2010, Promens sold it to private equity firm Olympus Partners of Stamford, Conn., which is not involved with the case.
Promens cooperated in resolving the suit, EEOC said.
The women, who were employed in the finishing department in West Chicago, filed discrimination charges with EEOC in 2007, which sued Promens on their behalf last fall.
The women alleged that a Promens supervisor “repeatedly propositioned temporary female workers,” EEOC said in a news release announcing the settlement. When the women rejected the supervisor's advances, he fired them.
“This pattern of quid pro quo harassment continued until Promens USA fired this supervisor in July 2010 after yet another woman complained of sexual harassment,” EEOC said.
When EEOC investigated, the agency also found that Promens USA excluded women from jobs in the rotomolding department, which paid more than the finishing department.
John Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago, called the case “a positive outcome” for all women who work in manufacturing.
“Employers should take notice that women cannot be excluded from a class of jobs based on stereotypes about their physical strength or assumed lack of interest. The EEOC uncovered evidence that Promens systematically excluded women from higher-paid positions as machine operators,” Hendrickson said. “Federal law plainly forbids workforce segregation on the basis of sex.”