Female workers in Taft, Belridge subject to 'grotesque remarks," EEOC charges

A federal agency has filed a lawsuit against a major local business.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed Thursday that Braun Electric Company violated federal law when it allowed the unwelcome sexual harassment and discrimination of a class of female employees. The Bakersfield-based company provides electrical services for the oil and gas industry throughout California's San Joaquin Valley.

The EEOC is alleging a male manager at Braun's Taft and Belridge, Calif., locations "continually subjected female staff to a hostile work environment infused with explicit sexual comments, advances and gestures since 2010."

"The manager allegedly made daily grotesque remarks about the sexual fantasies he had regarding his female subordinates, encouraging them to kiss and touch each other's breasts and asking to commit sexual acts with them. He would repeatedly make various explicit sexual remarks or propositions and make obscene displays, the EEOC said in a news release Friday morning.

The EEOC is also alleging that Braun management largely ignored reports of harassment and discrimination and failed to adequately prevent and correct the misconduct.

Ultimately, at least one female employee was forced to quit as a result of the unchecked hostile work environment.

Such alleged conduct violates the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the EEOC said.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Braun Electric Company, Case No. 1:12-cv-01592 LJO SMS) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The EEOC's suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the class of female workers as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent further sexual harassment and discrimination at the company.

"Employers cannot stand by idly while workers are besieged by sexual misconduct," said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes California's Central Valley.