FLORENCE, S.C. — HM Solutions, Inc., a Greenville-based company that provides commercial and industrial janitorial services, will pay $315,000 and provide other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency announced Monday.
The EEOC charged that HM Solutions violated federal law when it subjected four female employees to a sexually hostile work environment, then later fired the women in retaliation for objecting to the harassment.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the four women worked for HM Solutions at some point from July 2015 through March 2017. They were assigned to a client's battery recycling facility in Florence, where they performed general housekeeping tasks and cleaned up lead and mercury contamination.
The EEOC alleged that at various times during each woman's employment, the women were subjected to sexual harassment by an HM Solutions account manager and a shift supervisor, both male.
The EEOC contends that some of the sexually harassing behavior was observed by other supervisors, who took no action to stop the sexual harassment.
The EEOC further charged that the four female employees repeatedly complained about the harassment but the abuse continued.
According to the EEOC's suit, the four women were ultimately fired by HM Solutions for not acquiescing to the sexual harassment or in retaliation for complaining about it.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about discrimination in the workplace.
The EEOC filed its lawsuit (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. HM Solutions, Inc., Civil Action No. 4:19-cv-02043-SAL-KDW) in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Florence Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to providing monetary relief for the four women, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires HM Solutions to develop an auditing process to assist the corporation with identifying and addressing actual or potential incidents of sexual harassment and retaliation.
Under the decree, HM Solutions will also provide annual training to all employees on Title VII, sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace; revise its anti-harassment policy; and provide periodic reports to the EEOC on all employee complaints about sex-based conduct or comments.
"We commend the efforts of HM Solutions in reaching a resolution with EEOC that provides both meaningful monetary relief and important equitable relief," said Kara G. Haden, acting regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office.