EEOC files sexual harassment complaint against Panama Transfer Inc.

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 4/1/2014

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against an Iowa-based trucking company in federal court on March 27.

According to court documents, Susan Devries, who worked as a third-shift dock worker at the company’s Wellsburg, Iowa, terminal, was allegedly subjected to sexual harassment by “one or more male Panama Transfer supervisors and employees” during her employment with the company from April 2011 until May 2012.

The EEOC alleges in its suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa that Devries was fired by Panama Transfer after complaining about sexual remarks and innuendos made to her by male coworkers, including remarks made over the workplace intercom.

“Despite actual and constructive notice that it was discriminating against Ms. Devries on the basis of her sex, Panama Transfer failed and refused to take prompt and appropriate action to correct the harassment and the resulting hostile environment,” according to the lawsuit. “This situation continued until Panama Transfer discharged Ms. Devries in retaliation for her opposition to the harassment.”

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website, the family-owned business has 147 tractors and 195 drivers. In addition to several terminals in Iowa, the company also has terminals in Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The EEOC seeks that the company, its subsidiaries and employees be prevented from engaging in sexual harassment practices, as well as institute and carry out polices, practices and programs that provide equal employment for women.

The jury demand complaint seeks back wages, as well as punitive damages, to be paid to Devries.

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