it’s probably the last place you might expect to find a hostile work environment. First of all, it’s a federal
workplace. And even more surprising, it’s heavily guarded against intrusion. But the situation inside the
U.S. Mint in Denver was anything but a safe place for 71 women who brought a complaint to the facility’s
equal employment opportunity (EEO) officer in 2003. When the organizers of the complaint began to fear
that they were the investigation targets instead of the complaints, 32 of the women decided to take the
matter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Their contention: The Denver Mint
was a hostile work environment. These allegations were the culmination of a number of incidents that had
occurred over a long period of time.
The Denver Mint, which opened in 1863, has 414 employees, of which 93 are women. One woman who
started working at the Denver Mint in 1997 said, “She found the atmosphere completely hostile toward
females.” When she filed an EEO charge claiming discrimination, she was retaliated against by having
most of her job duties reassigned and being required to work at home. Events leading to the current
complaint started in 2001, when another female employee who was inspecting a men’s room for
cleanliness saw a loose ceiling tile, removed it, and found 40 to 50 sex magazines. Some months later,
this same employee was checking for rats in an attic and found a stash of pornographic magazines. Both
times she made these discoveries, she was with a male colleague. Later, she would say in a statement
given to the main office of the U.S. Mint that to her knowledge no action was every taken to address the
Another female employee filed a claim of retaliation and sexual harassment with the facility’s EEO officer
in 2000. It was 2003 before she got a hearing with the EEOC and an administrative judge ruled in favor of
the Mint. However, when she filed her claims in federal... [continues]
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