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ABM settles sexual harassment suit for $5.8 million

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A janitorial company will have to pay $5.8 million to a group of Valley women who say they were sexually harassed on the job. The Equal Opportunities Commission announced the settlement Thursday ... and says it is one of the worst cases of abuse ever investigated by the federal agency.

Maria Quintero became so emotional describing the abuse by a supervisor at ABM Janitorial Services in Fresno ... that she fainted. She is one of 21 victims in the case. Several were present at a multi-city press tele-conference held in Los Angeles, Fresno and Washington D.C. to announce the $5.8 million settlement reached with ABM.

EEOC Manager, Santos Albarran said, "What's so egregious about this is the employer knew about the harassment; one was a registered sex offender and the employer knew about it and failed to do anything about it."

Lawyers with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission say the abuse began in 2001. The women say they were victims of explicit sexual comments, assaults and requests for sex by 14 male co-workers and supervisors at ABM work sites in Fresno, Visalia, Merced, and Bakersfield. Attorneys say one woman was even raped.

EEOC Attorney, Elizabeth Esparza-Cervantes said, "We're hoping that through the litigation that we're doing, through the outreach that we're doing -- that people are becoming more aware of their rights against employment discrimination and sex harassment in particular."

ABM released this statement Thursday in response to the settlement: "ABM Janitorial takes these issues very seriously. We strive to provide all of our employees a safe work environment free of harassment of any kind."

As part of the settlement, ABM has also agreed to establish a telephone hotline for employee complaints, and provide anti-harassment training.

Delia De Mejia says she was fired after rebuffing the sexual come-ons of an ABM supervisor. For her the settlement money is not what matters. She tells other women to not be scared to come forward.

EEOC Says the agency has seen a 127-percent increase in sexual harrassment cases in the Fresno area ... and have increased the number of investigators in the local office.

If you have been a victim you can file a complaint with EEOC at 1-800-669-4000.

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Tags:
fresno, fresno county, visalia, bakersfield, merced, local, graciela moreno
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