Settlement Reached in Sexual Harassment Case

July 1, 2005 ( - Oil company owner Frederick Fuller has agreed to a settlement of $780,000 to end a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1993, according to news reports.

The Boston Globe reports that the suit alleged that Fuller, for at least a decade, created a hostile work environment for many female employees, violating civil rights laws.   He and his company also participated in sexual harassment training before the suit was filed, but, according to the suit, ”not only does he not get it, he just doesn’t care.”  

The EEOC reported that Fuller performed sexually offensive acts during the training, saying he “joked about and questioned the trainer’s sexual orientation and, during a break in the training, groped a woman’s undergarment,” according to a Manchester Union Leader report.   The report also said that federal lawyers referred to the Hudson, New Hampshire based Fred Fuller Oil Company as a “danger zone” for women.   

The five plaintiffs in the case give accounts of being groped, poked, subjected to lewd remarks, and, in some cases, forced to quit, according to the Globe.   The New Hampshire Human Rights Commission reported this set of complaints to the EEOC believing Fuller had not learned his lesson from previous sexual harassment litigation, the Union Leader reported.  ” . . . we felt that Mr. Fuller simply did not understand that sexual harassment was unlawful and would not understand that without the intervention of the federal government,” said Katharine Daly, executive director of the commission, in a statement released by the EEOC.

The settlement is also requiring that Fuller contract with an independent agent to enforce the company’s sexual harassment policy by investigating complaints, maintaining records, and recommending disciplinary action, and to provide sexual harassment training to managers without Fuller’s presence, according to the reports.   In addition, Fuller must attend sensitivity training.

-Rebecca Moore