A Long Island construction company was a hotbed for sexual harassment, with bosses demanding sex from female employees in exchange for pay and overtime, the New York Attorney General has alleged.
Trade Off — which worked on Hudson Yards — has agreed to pay $1.5 million to 18 former employees who were sexually harassed and retaliated against, AG Letitia James announced Monday.
Trade Off allegedly “engaged in severe sexual harassment against female workers primarily against women of color over at least three years,” James said at a press conference flanked by two former female workers.
“The harassment included mangers demanding sex for pay and overtime opportunities, sexual, physical and verbal assault by male employees and sexually explicit videos and photos sent by managers and other workers.”
James said the state began investigating the company in October 2018 — eventually finding that at least 16 female workers had been sexually harassed and at least 12 employees were fired after reporting harassment either against themselves or against their coworkers.
“Every employee in the state of New York has the right to feel protected and safe in the work place, yet these women endured retaliation, harassment, discrimination and intimidation,” James said.
“I was assaulted at a work site by a coworker and this is one thing in life that you think would never happen,” one former employee Jaleesa McCrimmon said. “These situations should not happen to anyone.”
“It’s a major relief,” another former worker Tierra Williams said of the agreement which she says lets Trade Off know “this is not a game. If you’re not playing fair we don’t want to play anymore.”
As part of the deal that Trade Off reached with the AG’s office, it has also agreed to hire an independent monitor for three years and to overhaul its sexual harassment policy.
Part of the $1.5 million settlement will be set aside for any additional accusers who may come forward.
A spokesperson for Trade Off said in a prepared statement, “Tradeoff considers any level of harassment to be unacceptable, and deeply regrets that our processes for training and oversight failed some of the women who worked for us.”
Trade Off said that it will work with the AG’s office to “expand and strengthen the protections for our employees,” including in harassment training and reporting procedures.
Still, the rep said Trade Off, which employs non-union labor, believes “many of the complaints were driven by a long-lasting dispute with a union that had trouble competing with Trade Off for labor services.”
“In an industry not historically welcoming to women, Tradeoff has been proud to be a leader in the hiring and retention of women,” the rep said adding it hires many people from the minority community through its second chance program.