EEOC Sues Caterpillar for Sexual and Racial Harassment

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) earlier this month filed two lawsuits against heavy-equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, charging that the Fortune 500 company failed to act against worker complaints of sexual and racial harassment.

The case, filed in federal court in Chicago, cites incidents at the Joliet and Aurora, Illinois plants where white workers whistled at three black employees “as if they were dogs” and a supervisor made sexual remarks and advances towards women workers, respectively. In the latter situation, at least three women were fired after reporting their experiences. “In these cases, some of the excuses given by management for not taking corrective action were virtually as insulting as the original harassment and compounded the problem as did the company’s rush to retaliate,” EEOC attorney John Hendrickson told the Agence France Presse. The suits seek compensatory and punitive damages and mandate new measures by Caterpillar to combat harassment. The company spokesman has denied any wrongdoing.

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Associated Press 8/13/03; AFP 8/14/03

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