A trucking company allegedly tolerated harassment of — and eventually terminated — two gay mechanics at a facility in North Jackson, Ohio, over their sexual orientation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a lawsuit filed Sept. 15.
The lawsuit is filed against TA Dedicated, Inc., doing business as Transport America, and TForce TL Holdings USA, Inc., doing business as Transportation Enterprise Services, both of which are under the umbrella of TFI International. TFI International could not immediately be reached for comment.
Starting in late 2018, workers and supervisors allegedly harassed the mechanics by using anti-gay slurs and other derogatory language, being physically violent and defacing their uniforms, among other hostile behavior, EEOC said.
Human resources officials and managers knew about the harassment but didn’t take action to stop or prevent it from happening, EEOC said. After the mechanics reported the harassment, the shop manager allegedly threatened to fire anyone who complained to HR, and the mechanics were subject to more harassment, including having their personal property destroyed, receiving less favorable assignments and being forced to quit, EEOC said.
“Employees have a right to work in an environment that is free from harassment because of their sexual orientation. This lawsuit makes clear that EEOC will vigorously enforce that right, through litigation if necessary,” Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence said in a statement. The Philadelphia district office covers cases in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
EEOC said the trucking company’s alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity as well as retaliation for calling out the discrimination.
EEOC filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement with the company. The agency wants permanent injunctive relief to prevent the company from permitting discrimination based on sexual orientation and from retaliating against workers who oppose such discrimination.