ARE TEMPORARY WORKERS PROTECTED UNDER TITLE VII OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT?

A federal appeals court recently upheld a jury verdict to award 1.5 million in a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against New Breed Logistics, a logistics services provider. The EEOC filed the lawsuit on the behalf of three female temporary workers who experienced sexual harassment and retaliation at the company, and one male employee who faced retaliation when he supported their claims.

According to the EEOC lawsuit, the three female workers were subjected to unwanted touching and inappropriate sexual comments at one of the company’s facilities. After they complained about the harassment, they were fired. The company also terminated the male employee because he supported the women’s claims and agreed to be a witness for the claimants during the company’s investigation.

Sexual harassment and retaliation are illegal

By refusing to take action regarding complaints of sexual harassment and retaliating made by temporary employees, the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law states that if an employee complains about sexual harassment at work, his or her employer must conduct a swift and impartial investigation to determine whether the allegations are true. If the company finds evidence of sexual harassment, it must find a way to put an end to it and to ensure that appropriate disciplinary measures are taken against the harasser. No distinction is made as to whether the employee is temporary or permanent.

A company may not retaliate against the employee for his or her allegation of sexual harassment. Unlawful retaliation consists of any adverse employment action an employer takes in response to an employee’s participation in the protected activity, such as complaining about harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Examples of adverse employment action may include: termination, reduction in hours or excessive supervision.

Results of the case

The jury found that New Breed Logistics’ actions violated Title VII, and awarded the victims $850,000 in punitive damages, $486,000 in compensatory damages, and $177,094 in back pay. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the jury’s decision and clarified that “a demand that a supervisor cease his/her harassing conduct constitutes protected activity by Title VII.”

If you have experienced sexual harassment or retaliation, call the Akin Law Group

Victims of sexual harassment and retaliation should not wait to take action, as there is a statute of limitations for filing claims. If you have been subjected to sexual harassment or retaliation in the workplace, contact the Akin Law Group at 866.685.5163 to schedule a free consultation at our downtown Manhattan office. Our lawyers will discuss the details of your situation with you to determine whether filing a lawsuit is the right course of action.