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Pretium Packaging settles discrimination lawsuit with EEOC

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Plastic bottle and jar manufacturer Pretium Packaging has settled a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Pretium will pay more than $252,000, among other actions, as part of the settlement. 

According to the EEOC, the Missouri-based company’s facility in Leipsic, Ohio, discriminated against women by not hiring or promoting them to machine operator positions. Women who expressed interest in the position were told they were not eligible. One example involved two women who were employed as packers and submitted applications for the machine operator position; they were not granted interviews, and men employees with inferior qualifications were hired instead.

EEOC said this behavior violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. It filed a lawsuit in September in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio after initially trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its resolution process.

“Denying women the same opportunities as men to operate machines because the work is wrongly viewed as a ‘man’s job’ is an unacceptable and unlawful practice,” Miles Uhlar, trial attorney for the EEOC’s Detroit Field Office, said in a statement.

Under the three-year consent decree, Pretium will:

  • Pay more than $125,000, collectively, to the two women employees who were denied interviews.
  • Pay $2,500 each to some former employees who are women and weren’t selected for interviews
  • Establish a $75,000 scholarship program with the Ohio Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and interview graduates from the program who apply for machine operator, supervisor or manager positions.
  • Provide annual sex discrimination training to all Leipsic facility employees and submit yearly reports regarding its hiring practices.

Premium’s website features several posts from the past year celebrating women in manufacturing. The featured employees hold various managerial or executive positions and do not appear to be located at the Leipsic facility. 

Pretium did not respond to a request for comment on the settlement.

In FY 2022, EEOC received filings for more than 73,000 discrimination charges, and nearly 20,000 of those, or 27%, were sex-based claims. As of 2021, women comprised 47% of the U.S. workforce but only made up 30% of the manufacturing workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Women’s representation in higher-paid, skilled roles is even lower, according to a recent report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The report also notes that workplace harassment and disrespect is the top reason women cite for wanting to leave the manufacturing, followed by a lack of advancement opportunities.

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