Supervisor harassed female auto technician and gave her ‘demeaning’ jobs, feds say

Isabela Kronemberger via Unsplash

The supervisor of a female automotive technician refused to call her by her name, instead calling her “woman” and an expletive insult throughout her entire employment, according to federal authorities.

And despite having the skills to work on vehicles, she was “given demeaning work assignments, such as cleaning and running personal errands” for her male supervisor because of her sex, officials said.

She was one of several employees who were harassed while working at multiple Car-X Tire and Auto locations in Illinois and Iowa, leading to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to a Feb. 8 news release.

“For example, employees regularly grabbed one male employee’s groin, butt, and chest area, and simulated sex or ‘pumped’ him from the side,” the EEOC said in the complaint filed in January 2022. “This employee was also verbally harassed with sexual comments.”

“Another male employee was subjected to physical touching, including a supervisor rubbing a hammer along his butt, and sexual comments, such as ‘you have a nice butt,’” according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The Car-X Tire and Auto locations are owned by Monro, Inc., which operates automotive service brands across the country.

“Monro is committed to providing a respectful, safe working environment, and it trains all employees on the Company’s values and policies,” a company spokesperson said. “Shortly after acquiring 11 Car-X franchised stores in late 2017, the Company received two complaints from two of the acquired stores about conduct that violated Monro’s policies.

“Although some of the conduct predated Monro’s acquisition, the Company investigated those concerns and took decisive and effective action to remedy the situations,” the spokesperson continued. “The Company has confidence in its internal complaint process and provides training to its Teammates with regard to the Company’s expectations. Monro will continue to make advancements to ensure that Teammates are heard, and that issues are addressed.”

Monro has agreed to settle the lawsuit by paying $200,000 to split among four former employees, according to the release. The company must provide sexual harassment training to employees who work at the stores included in the lawsuit, and it must post a notice about the lawsuit.

Monro is also required to report “any future complaints of sexual harassment” over the next two years to the EEOC, authorities said.

“No one should be subjected to the kind of harassment these employees faced,” Gregory Gochanour, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago, said in the release. “The EEOC is glad that a fair outcome was reached quickly for the victims, and we expect that this company will pay more attention to protecting all employees from sexual harassment moving forward.”

The EEOC said it attempted to reach a settlement before filing the lawsuit but was unable to do so.

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