- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against metal manufacturer and supplier LeachGarner on May 9, accusing the company of discriminating against female employees at its facility in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
- The federal agency alleges that since January 2017, LeachGarner has discriminated against female employees by segregating jobs by sex and paying its female production workers less than their male counterparts despite performing similar work.
- The EEOC filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts after the agency attempted to settle the complaint through conciliation, a voluntary process to resolve and remedy discrimination charges informally without going through litigation. LeachGarner did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
LeachGarner allegedly routinely expressed its preference for male workers for higher paying manufacturing roles, using direct or coded language with staffing agencies, according to the EEOC.
“When hiring for male-dominated positions, LeachGarner also would transmit to staffing agencies thinly-veiled requests for male candidates, such as the applicant ‘needs to be strong’ or the position involves an ‘arm workout,’ whereas job vacancies in female-dominated positions were described to staffing agencies as requiring ‘good finger dexterity,’” the agency said in the complaint.
Female employees are continually paid statistically significantly lower starting salaries and raises than male manufacturing employees in similar roles, regardless of tenure, the complaint alleges.
As part of the complaint, the EEOC seeks to order LeachGarner to institute policies and practices that provide equal employment opportunities for female employees and “which eradicate the effects of its past and present unlawful employment practices.”
The agency estimates that more than 500 people may be affected by the alleged discriminatory practices, including current employees and temporary workers placed by staffing agencies, an EEOC spokesperson said in an email.
It also seeks to order the manufacturer to compensate female employees for non-monetary losses resulting from the discrimination, including “emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and humiliation.” The company could also be mandated to pay punitive damages for “malicious and reckless conduct,” and to provide appropriate back pay.
The EEOC cannot speculate on the total amount of backpay and compensation that could be mandated at this stage of the lawsuit, the spokesperson said.
The agency took multiple steps to resolve the allegations at the local level with LeachGarner before the lawsuit, according to court filings.
In November, the agency sent a letter to the metals manufacturer that stated it found reasonable cause to believe LeachGarner violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex.
At that time, the EEOC said, it attempted to resolve the claims through its conciliation process but could not secure an agreement it found acceptable.
“We will follow the procedures as determined by the court, which normally includes the defendant filing an answer to the complaint, discovery, motion practice, and, if we are unable to reach a settlement, trial,” the EEOC spokesperson said in the email.
This is not LeachGarner’s first discrimination suit. In 2022, the metals manufacturer was accused of age discrimination. The case was moved to a mediation process, with a preliminary conference scheduled for June 6.