Federal Court Enters Consent Decree Resolving EEOC Lawsuit Against Richardson Industries

MILWAUKEE – A federal district court judge in Milwaukee has entered a consent decree resolving an employment discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against a major Wisconsin building products company, the agency announced today.

The EEOC had charged that Sheboygan Falls, Wis.-based Richardson Industries, Inc., doing business as Richco Structures, violated federal law when it fired employee Morgan Rae Brocker after supervisors allegedly reported to management that another Richco supervisor had sexually harassed Brocker at the company’s Christmas party in December 2005.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Richardson Industries, Inc., d/b/a Richco Structures, Civil Action No. 2:10-C-0505) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on June 18, 2010, after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The decree entered yesterday, July 14, by U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert prohibits future discrimination and provides that Richco will pay Brocker $22,500 and train its managers and supervisors on employers’ obligations and the rights of employees under Title VII.

“Retaliation complaints have been the fastest-increasing type of complaint filed with the EEOC over the past 10 years,” said John C. Hendrickson, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, which is responsible for EEOC litigation in Wisconsin. “Sometimes we need to reinforce through litigation the message not to fire workers after they, or others, report that job discrimination has occurred. We appreciate Richco’s willingness to provide relief for Ms. Brocker and to ensure that such misconduct does not recur.”

The case was litigated by Senior Trial Attorney Dennis R. McBride of the EEOC’s Milwaukee Area Office.

According to company information, Richardson Industries, Inc. is a privately held corporation with several different divisions devoted to furniture and woodworking. The company’s website states that Richco Structures, which is located in Sheboygan Falls, Haven and De Pere, Wis., and is part of the company’s Richardson Building Products division, “is one of the Midwest’s largest manufacturers of custom fabricated wood roof trusses, floor trusses, and wall components, as well as a distributor of engineered wood products for the construction industry.”

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information is available on the EEOC’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.