The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit last week against Panama, Iowa-based trucking company Panama Transfer, saying it violated federal law by allowing a female dock worker to be sexually harassed and then firing her for resisting that harassment.
The agency said an investigation revealed that Susan Devries, who worked as a third-shift dock worker at Panama Transfer's Wellsburg, Iowa, terminal from April 11, 2011, to May 8, 2012, was regularly subjected to sexual harassment by one of her supervisors.
The EEOC said the supervisor repeatedly made overtures to her as well as sexual remarks and innuendos, including over the workplace intercom for her co-workers to hear. After Devries objected to the harassment, the EEOC said, the company fired her rather than address the illegal treatment.
Panama Transfer's alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it, according to EEOC.
The EEOC says it filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages for Devries, an order barring future discrimination and other relief. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in Des Moines.
According to published reports the company denies the charges and says it will fight them.
Panama Transfer is described as a family-owned company on its website, operating 120 trucks and 210 trailers. It has been in business since 1957.