EEOC sues Ingalls Shipbuilding, staffing company for sexual harassment, retaliation

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Staffing agency NSC Technologies, LLC assigned female employees to work at a Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. shipyard in Pascagoula, where they were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment and were retaliated against when they opposed the harassment and reported it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, in November 2017, NSC assigned a cleaning crew to work aboard a ship being constructed by Huntington Ingalls. The male superintendent made sexual comments to at least three female employees, masturbated in front of them, sexually assaulted them, and told them they were required to have sex with him if they wanted to keep their job or be promoted, according to the suit. Two female employees reported the harassment. The superintendent terminated one female who refused to have sex with him and threatened to kill the other after she reported the harassment.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits an employer from permitting a hostile work environment based on sex. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. and NSC Technologies, LLC, Case No. 1:21-cv-00429) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama after its Mobile Local Office completed an investigation and first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary damages for the victims, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief against the companies to prevent such unlawful conduct in the future.

“It is a blatant violation of Title VII for a supervisor to condition continued employment or a promotion on a subordinate having sex with him,” said EEOC Birmingham district director Bradley Anderson. “Employees working through a staffing agency are protected from sexual harassment and retaliation at their workplace regardless of whether or not the harasser is employed by the staffing agency.”

Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District added, “NSC and Huntington Ingalls did not protect female employees despite having notice that the superintendent was sexually harassing them. The EEOC will aggressively pursue remedies for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, including those assigned to work through a staffing agency.”

WXXV has reached out to Huntington Ingalls for comment.

NSC is a nationwide temporary staffing company that provides labor to a wide range of customers including the shipbuilding and ship repair industry. Huntington Ingalls has over 40,000 employees at several facilities across the United States and constructs large surface ships for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard.

The EEOC’s Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

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