The EEOC reports that it has sued Goodwill Industries of the East Bay Area for sexual harassment and disability discrimination, following allegations made by disabled female nightshift janitors against their supervisor. The allegations are … disturbing:
According to the suit, a nightshift supervisor routinely sexually harassed at least five women employed by Goodwill/Calidad’s janitorial operations under a federal government contract. Most of these workers were employed through a program providing jobs for people with disabilities. In addition to inappropriate touching, leering, propositions and intrusive questions about these women’s sex lives, the supervisor groped his genitals in front of female janitors and others so often that federal building employees nicknamed him “Mr. Bojangles.” Despite repeated reports, Goodwill/Calidad failed to take any effective action to protect these vulnerable workers.To make matters worse, the EEOC’s investigation revealed “that two managers were unfairly criticized and disciplined in retaliation for supporting the women’s sexual harassment claims, and one manager was compelled to resign.”
Let me make three observations about this case:
- The EEOC looks out for vulnerable workers. In the words of EEOC’s San Francisco District Director William R. Tamayo added, “As shown in a recent Frontline video on female night shift janitors, sexual harassment can become a pervasive problem when companies fail to curb supervisors who abuse their power over vulnerable workers. It’s unfortunate that a program designed to assist workers with severe disabilities to secure a foothold in the workplace instead permitted a supervisor to exploit his authority over workers made more vulnerable by their disabilities and the isolation of working the night shift.”
- Employers ignore any complaint of harassment at their peril. In the words of EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Linda Ordonio-Dixon, “Here, the nightshift janitors trusted a newly hired manager with their harassment complaints after years of inaction. When Goodwill/Calidad failed to respond appropriately, that manager helped the women file EEOC charges and suffered retaliation for doing the right thing.”
- Nothing good can happen when a supervisor earns the nickname “Mr. Bojangles” because of his repeated self-fondling. Nothing.