Four national construction companies have agreed to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a former employee of the Conoco Phillips facility in Belle Chasse for $110,000.

The EEOC filed the original lawsuit against Brand Energy & Infrastructure Services Inc., Brand Services, Brand Energy Solutions and Brand Scaffold Services on Sept. 28 in federal court in New Orleans.

According to the lawsuit, Jauronice Hayes and other unnamed employees were allegedly subjected to sexual harassment by their supervisor since at least September 2007. Hayes opposed and complained about the harassment. When she complained and refused to accede to the demands for sexual favors, the supervisor fired her, the lawsuit states.

Under the settlement, Hayes will receive $100,000 and a second victim will receive $10,000. In addition, the company will provide annual training to more than 450 personnel in its Gulf region.

"Egregious sexual harassment, including unwanted touching and demands for sex with the threat of being fired, fundamentally violates the notion of a fair workplace and is unlawful," said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez in a press release regarding the case.

"When an employee is fired in retaliation for complaining about that kind of conduct, it is especially troubling. Employers must understand that if they subject employees to sexual harassment or fire them for complaining, there will be serious consequences."

The EEOC filed another lawsuit against Brand in Texas in 2008, which alleged similar harassment and retaliation. The company settled that case for $175,000 in 2009.

P. David Lopez, James L. Lee, Gwendolyn Young Reams and Jim Sacher represented the EEOC.

U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance was assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv03306

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