EEOC Charges Manufacturing Company With Retaliating Against Sexual Harassment Complaint

The outcome of a retaliation lawsuit against an employer could depend on whether it can make its case that the employee filed a false claim of sexual harassment.

The EEOC filed this Title VII lawsuit against HP Pelzer, a company that manufactures automotive components in Athens, Tennessee.

According to the EEOC, a female employee alleged that a human resources manager at the Athens plant made unwelcome comments that the employee believed constituted sex harassment. Although the woman reported the comments to the plant manager, he delayed in investigating the allegation. The female employee reported the harassment to a higher official in the company, who ordered the plant manager to conduct an investigation. After completing the investigation, the plant manager informed the female employee that the company could not substantiate her complaint. The company then fired the employee, supposedly for violating its harassment policy. Specifically, the company claimed the employee “purposefully falsified a claim of harassment” in violation of company policy.

“Management officials may not retaliate against employees for their reasonable good-faith belief that the company subjected them to harassment in the workplace,” said Katharine W. Kores, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. “Such a policy creates a chilling effect for employees in the workplace. The EEOC will continue to enforce the retaliation provision of Title VII.”

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