A federal lawsuit charges a Las Vegas construction company with allowing supervisors to sexually harass employees and taking revenge against those who reported harassment in the workplace.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday by the U.S. Equal Opportunities Commission, alleges male supervisors and employees of the Focus Companies Group of Nevada groped, forcibly kissed, vulgarly spoken, and threatened rape threats if they did not comply to harassment. The women involved only speak Spanish, according to a statement.
“The EEOC remains steadfast in eliminating discrimination in the workplace, especially against those who may be ignorant of their rights due to limited English language skills and their increased vulnerability to discrimination and harassment,” Commission lawyer Anna Park said in a written statement.
The lawsuit filed in the US District Court alleges that Focus reassigned two women who had complained of “undesirable or adverse work assignments” that required unassisted heavy lifting. One of these women, according to the lawsuit, suffered a stroke as a result of severe labor.
“As a result of the failure to address the hostile work environment, some employees felt they had no choice but to quit,” an EEOC statement said.
The lawsuit seeks financial compensation on behalf of the women and judicial intervention to correct and prevent further discrimination.
Focus comprises several subsidiaries in the construction sector, including Focus Plumbing; Focus electric; Focus concrete; Focus on fire protection; Focus on framing, door and trim. They share management and ownership and are all named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Attorney Michael Mersch, who is the general counsel of Focus Companies, said Friday afternoon that the company had not yet received a complaint from the commission and that the company would not comment on any ongoing litigation, even if it did.
Michael Mendoza, director of the EEOC Las Vegas office, underlined the responsibility of employers, “especially those whose workforce has historically been male” to implement strong anti-harassment and retaliation policies.
“The employer has a responsibility to create a harassment-free working environment for all of its employees,” he said in the EEOC announcement.