Detergent maker Dial Corporation agreed last Monday to pay $10 million, settling a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by 90 previous and current female employees working at its Aurora, Illinois soap factory. The last-minute agreement between the Scottsdale, Arizona-company and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) halted the pending trial, where Dial faced allegations of fostering a "permissive culture" which condoned groping, sexual insults, and displays of pornography by its male workers, including supervisors, reported Bloomberg. Court documents indicated that women who reported harassment faced retaliation or inaction by upper management, according to Reuters. Dial denied wrongdoing but agreed to federal compliance monitors for the next two-and-a-half years at its plant. The lawsuit represents the largest EEOC sexual harassment case in five years.
Also last week, a federal judge granted female plant workers in Kansas class-action status for their sexual discrimination lawsuit against their employer, defense contractor Boeing Company. US District Judge Wesley Brown decided that 4,800 women may proceed with the lawsuit, which charges Boeing for sexual discrimination in pay, promotions, and other employment opportunities and seeks back pay and damages amounting to $40 to $50 million, according to Reuters. While the company staunchly refutes the claims, Hanes Berman, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, insists the problem is "endemic," referencing an external survey finding that more than 85 percent of Boeing's women workers receive less pay than male workers in comparable positions. "A company can explain away slight statistical anomalies, but Boeing has a great deal more to answer for... The numbers don't lie-they point to a systemic, ongoing problem in virtually every major Boeing facility," Berman told the Reuters. The firm is handling similar class action cases filed by female Boeing employees in Washington, Oklahoma, California, and Missouri.
Media Resources: Associated Press 4/29/03, 4/30/03; Bloomberg 4/27/03; Reuters 4/28/03