$202K Settlement Ends EEOC’s Sexual Orientation Lawsuit Against Maryland Company

The first lawsuit that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed against a private sector employer for sexual orientation discrimination has yielded a sizeable monetary settlement for the alleged victim.

On Friday, the EEOC announced that defendant IFCO Systems will pay a fired lesbian employee $182,200 and also donate $20,000 to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

In this lawsuit filed in March, the EEOC alleged that a lesbian employee at IFCO’s Baltimore facility was repeatedly harassed by her supervisor because of her sexual orientation. Her supervisor made numerous comments to her regarding her sexual orientation and appearance, such as “I want to turn you back into a woman” and “You would look good in a dress,” according to the suit. EEOC charged that the supervisor also made sexually suggestive gestures to her. IFCO retaliated against the female employee by firing her just days after she complained to management and called the employee hotline to report the harassment, according to the suit.

“We commend IFCO for working with us to resolve this case amicably and without engaging in protracted litigation,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. In addition to the monetary relief, this landmark settlement ensures that all IFCO employees and applicants are protected against discrimination because of sexual orientation. We encourage other employers to follow IFCO’s example and implement similarly comprehensive policies and training programs to prevent workplace discrimination against members of the LGBT community.”

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