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Sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Las Vegas construction firm

A federal lawsuit accuses a Las Vegas construction company of allowing supervisors to sexually harass employees and retaliating against those who reported experiencing harassment on the job.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claims male supervisors and co-workers at Focus Companies Group of Nevada subjected female employees at construction sites to groping, forcible kissing, vulgar language and threats of rape if they didn’t submit to the harassment. The women involved speak only Spanish, a release said.

“The EEOC remains steadfast in rooting out employment discrimination, particularly against those who may not know their rights due to limited English proficiency and their heightened vulnerability to discrimination and harassment,” commission attorney Anna Park said in a written statement.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court accuses Focus of reassigning two women who had complained about “undesirable or detrimental work assignments” involving heavy lifting with no help. One of those women, the lawsuit states, suffered a stroke as a result of the difficult labor.

“As a result of its failure to address the hostile work environment, some employees felt they had no choice but to quit,” an EEOC release said.

The lawsuit seeks financial compensation on behalf of the women and court intervention to correct and prevent further discrimination.

Focus comprises multiple construction subsidiaries including Focus Plumbing; Focus Electric; Focus Concrete; Focus Fire Protection; Focus Framing, Door and Trim. They share management and ownership, and are all named as defendants in the complaint.

Attorney Michael Mersch, who serves as Focus Companies general counsel, said Friday afternoon that the company hadn’t yet been served a complaint by the commission, and the company wouldn’t comment on ongoing litigation even if it had.

Michael Mendoza, director of the EEOC’s Las Vegas office, underscored the responsibility of employers, “especially those whose workforce has been historically male,” to institute strong anti-harassment and retaliation policies.

“The responsibility falls on the employer to create a harassment-free working environment for all its employees,” he said in the EEOC release.

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

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