The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has brought a lawsuit against Joe Ryan Trucking, Phenix City, AL, charging that the owner of the fleet violated federal law by sexually harassing female employees.

The EEOC did not name the owner in its press announcement of the suit.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the owner of the company — who was one of Ryan’s chief officials — “was incessant in sexually harassing his female employees… repeatedly using sexually degrading terms to describe females, making inappropriate sexual comments to female employees, referring to female employees’ body parts in a sexually degrading manner, and displaying sexually offensive pictures and images of women. He also repeatedly exposed himself to at least one female employee,” according to the EEOC.

EEOC alleges that the owner would not stop the sexual misconduct although asked to do so on numerous occasions.

“One of the female employees felt compelled to resign because the owner ignored her pleas to stop,” according to the EEOC.

After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, the EEOC said it is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.

“When you own a company, you have heightened responsibility towards your employees,” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC Birmingham District Office. “An owner should protect his employees, not harass them.”

C. Emanuel Smith, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District said, “The EEOC will vigorously pursue companies who subject female employees to sexual harassment by co-workers, supervisors, and owners. No woman should have to endure an abusive workplace in order to earn a living.”