- Monro, Inc., a national auto care chain with more than 1,000 locations, has settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for $200,000, the agency announced Feb. 8.
- According to the EEOC’s news release and complaint, several Munro locations in Illinois and Iowa subjected multiple male employees to sexual harassment, including unwanted sexual touching and sexual comments. In addition, at least one female employee was addressed as “woman” or by a derogatory term rather than her name, and was assigned to do cleaning tasks or run personal errands for her supervisor rather than work on cars, her expected duty.
- “Monro is committed to providing a respectful, safe working environment, and it trains all employees on the company’s values and policies. Shortly after acquiring 11 Car-X franchised stores in late 2017, the company received two complaints from two of the acquired stores about conduct that violated Monro’s policies. Although some of the conduct predated Monro’s acquisition, the company investigated those concerns and took decisive and effective action to remedy the situations,” a spokesperson for Munro, Inc. told HR Dive via email. “The company has confidence in its internal complaint process and provides training to its Teammates with regard to the company’s expectations. Monro will continue to make advancements to ensure that Teammates are heard, and that issues are addressed.”
Violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — including discrimination based on sex — are some of the most common complaints workers lodge with the EEOC.
In FY 2021, the last year for which the EEOC released data, the agency received 18,762 sex-based charges and over 5,500 specifically alleging sexual harassment. The agency settled 11.6% of the latter and obtained $61.6 million in monetary benefits. Compared with other charges, sex-based charges fall just below race-based and disability-based charges in filing proportion, and well below age-based and religion-based charges.
Munro, Inc.’s statement highlights the trouble companies sometimes face in acquisitions — namely, the accidental introduction or inheritance of a toxic culture into the parent company. Ensuring newly acquired companies are well-integrated into the prevailing company culture and workflow can be key to squashing bad behavior in the workforce, experts say: HR should be involved in M&A conversations from the beginning, Dominique Andrews, chief people officer at Logically, wrote for HR Dive in November. She also recommended establishing a culture task force, which can identify “culture clashes” early on.
Employers also can make sure they’re addressing urgent complaints — like those of unwanted touching and other sexual harassment — with sufficient speed and responsiveness. And when HR is not on site, it’s especially important to ensure managers know how to deal with such complaints, employment law experts say.