Spectrum Bags to Pay $150,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

MEMPHIS - A Cerritos, Calif.-based plastic bag manufacturer will pay $150,000 in monetary damages to resolve a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC's suit against IPS Industries, Inc., doing business as Spectrum Plastics, Inc. and as Spectrum Bags, Inc., charged that a former warehouse supervisor, then working at the company's Southaven, Miss., facility, subjected four women to sexual harassment. The EEOC said the warehouse manager frequently subjected these women to inappropriate comments, touching, and text messages. He used his computer to peruse adult websites and display pornographic material. The warehouse manager also repeatedly asked the women out on dates and invited them to hotels and parties. The warehouse manager disciplined and terminated the employees who opposed his advances.

This type of alleged workplace misconduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 2:10-cv-00168 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Besides the monetary relief, the three-year consent decree settling the suit, entered by Judge Michael P. Mills, requires that Spectrum Bags maintain a written policy against sexual harassment and ensure that all employees, including temporary employees, know of the policy. To further ensure the effective implementation of Spectrum Bags' anti-harassment policy, the company will also conduct anti-sexual-harassment training. The decree also requires that Spectrum Bags post in each of its warehouses for two years a notice containing the terms of this settlement.

"Employers have a duty under the law to ensure that their work environment is free of harassment," said Faye Williams, regional attorney of the EEOC's Memphis District Office. "The EEOC takes very seriously its mission to eradicate sexual harassment in the workplace, and this settlement once again demonstrates that continued commitment."

Spectrum Bags manufactures plastic bags used by retail companies and has approximately 120 employees nationwide. The Southaven warehouse is now closed, but Spectrum continues to operate other warehouses nationwide.