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US Mint to Pay for Employee Harassment

The US mint has agreed to pay a $9 million settlement to female employees in a lawsuit alleging discrimination and harassment at its Denver plant. Between 1998 and 2003, employees filed 102 complaints with the mint’s Equal Employment Opportunity officer; instead of improving conditions, managers often retaliated, according to the suit. In March 2003, 31 mint employees took the case to the Denver Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where they filed a class complaint.

Female employees described finding stashes of pornography in the office, being propositioned by managers, and even being offered money for sex. Managers also allegedly promoted male employees over more qualified women, and routinely used derogatory language to refer to female staff. In a separate case, Denver mint employee April Garcia Kass won an $80,000 settlement from the government last year after a supervisor’s sexual harassment culminated in physical assault.

The federal EEOC must approve the settlement before it will go into effect, but lawyers for both sides expect that to happen within the next few months. As part of the settlement, the EEOC will place an independent monitor at the plant for the next three years. The mint continues to deny the charges but chose to settle rather than pursue lengthy and expensive court proceedings, Denver Mint spokesperson Becky Bailey told the Associated Press.

Sources:

Denver Post 4/1/06; Wall Street Journal 3/22/06