The Illinois Attorney General’s office announced last week that it settled a lawsuit over claims of sexual harassment and retaliation at a warehouse in Bolingbrook, Illinois.
MTIL Inc. was sued in May 2018 by the office over claims that female workers were subjected to pervasive sexual harassment in the workplace, including unwelcome sexual advances and sexually explicit comments. The suit also claimed MTIL requested temporary workers from several staffing firms on the basis of gender, using the code words “heavy” for male workers and “light” for female workers.
The suit was settled by a consent decree that:
- Prohibits MTIL from allowing discrimination or retaliation in the workplace.
- Requires the company to establish a hotline for employees and temporary workers to report sexual harassment and discrimination; the hotline must be administered by a third party.
- Calls for MTIL to implement new anti-discrimination policies and regularly train employees on these policies.
- Requires MTIL to pay $75,000 in civil penalties.
In addition, an independent monitor will observe the company over the next three years to ensure compliance with the consent decree.
The office also reported it previously reached consent decrees with IFCO Systems US, a former operator of the warehouse, and ClearStaff Inc., a temporary staffing firm, for their involvement in related sexual harassment and discrimination incidents.
ClearStaff reported that it settled with the government on claims of gender discrimination about a year and a half ago. It was not accused of harassment. The company had no reports of discrimination from its workers. The company said terms such as “heavy” did not refer to gender but to jobs that required heavy lifting measured in pounds to be lifted per minute. Nothing was proven against ClearStaff and no liability was admitted.
Officials began investigating the companies in 2016 after a group called Warehouse Workers for Justice contacted the Attorney General’s office.
“A workplace culture that subjects female employees to harassment and bases hiring decisions on a workers’ sex is not just repugnant — it is illegal,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement. “This consent decree will end MTIL’s unacceptable hiring practices and treatment of female employees.”
This story has been updated on May 24.