Nearly a third of the female employees of the US Mint in Denver filed a class-action complaint with the US Treasury Department in early June alleging years of sexual harassment and discrimination. The group of 32 women argue that they have endured a hostile work environment for years, with male colleagues refusing to remove picture of naked women from the office walls and lockers, propositioning the women for sex, and passing offensive sexual emails around the office, according to Rocky Mountain News.
Female employees at the Mint have for years sought action from supervisors and union officials to no avail. One woman received a restraining order against a supervisor who had physically assaulted her, but the order, issued by the City and County of Denver, had no authority at the Mint, which is on federal property, the Denver Post reports. Other women report facing repercussions when they report a co-worker’s behavior. Phyllis Soto, an accounting technician who has worked at the Mint for 12 years, told the Scripps-McClatchy that the official policy of “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment ends up being more like “zero tolerance for the victims.” Attorney Marisa Williams, representing several of the women, said that women at the Mint are afraid to come forward with complaints because co-workers and supervisors at the Mint “make life hell for them if they do,” according to the Rocky Mountain News.
Female supervisors also report that male employees bypass them in favor of male supervisors, and that women are not allowed to attend certain meetings, according to the News. “They break you down. The women say it’s not worth going home feeling that way every day. And management says, ‘She couldn’t handle the job. It’s her – see, she couldn’t do that job’,” Soto told the News. The women are awaiting certification for their complaint by an administration judge in Washington, DC.