Judge Clears Way for Caterpillar Sex Harassment Suit

November 10, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - An Illinois federal judge has ruled that the federal anti-discrimination agency may move forward with its sexual harassment claims on behalf of any women allegedly victimized at Caterpillar Inc.'s Aurora, Illinois manufacturing plant.

The ruling by US Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer reversed an earlier ruling that claims would be limited to women allegedly harassed by a particular manager. With the latest ruling, according to a Peoria Journal Star news report, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can pursue claims for any and all women who contend they were harassed, it said in a news release.

The EEOC, in a lawsuit filed more than a year ago by Karon Lambert, a safety industrial hygiene supervisor, alleged that Caterpillar permitted the sexual harassment of women at the Aurora plant, including sexually offensive propositions and comments and unwelcome and inappropriate touching. The lawsuit further contends the women who complained were fired.

The company denied the charges. “Caterpillar stands by the integrity of our long-standing policies prohibiting harassment,” the company said in a statement. “We take all reports of harassment seriously, investigate thoroughly and take remedial action when necessary to assure our valued employees can work to their fullest potential in a team environment free of fear and antagonism. We will continue to vigorously defend against the allegations filed by the EEOC.”

The case, being heard in US District Court in Chicago, has not been set for trial.