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Goodwill Pays $850,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settlement

There is a terrible irony when people with disabilities are sexually harassed while working for a famous non-profit whose mission includes helping people with disabilities gain dignity through work.

The organization in this case is Goodwill Industries of the East Bay Area, along with a subsidiary, Calidad Industries, that provides training and employment to people who have significant disabilities. Six women with developmental disabilities, who worked as janitors at night in a federal building in Oakland, California, claim they were routinely sexually harassed by their immediate supervisor. Two managers who were disciplined for supporting the women also shared in the settlement.

The settlement agreement requires Goodwill and Calidad to pay the eight employees a total of $850,000 and also to improve the policies of the organizations, implement training, increase accountability, and provide reports to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the EEOC).

The details of what the victims say they experienced, as reported by the EEOC, are heartbreaking.

  • One of the women was only 19 years old when she started the janitorial job. It was her first job ever, and she felt proud to be earning her own money. After the sexual harassment started, she no longer felt safe on the job. She tried to get help, but no one would help her.
  • Another victim said she reported harassment right away, but nothing happened.
  • All the women were vulnerable because they were working in an isolated setting at night, because they had developmental disabilities, and because many of them were young.
  • The managers who tried to help the women found that upper management wouldn't do anything. Instead, the managers were disciplined. One was even forced to resign.

Every worker has the right to work without being harassed. Employers have an obligation to protect vulnerable workers from those who would take advantage of their vulnerability to abuse them. With this $850,000 settlement, the EEOC hopes to send the message that both victims of harassment and those who witness the harassment should speak up. A sexual harassment attorney can help guide you through the process of filing a claim.

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