Federal investigation closed after Mattress Factory settles sexual harassment claims
A National Labor Relations Board investigation into allegations that the Mattress Factory violated federal labor laws has been closed, the museum’s acting director, Judith O’Toole, announced Thursday.
The news comes more than a week after the Mattress Factory settled with a group of former and current employees who accused supervisors at the museum of mishandling sexual harassment complaints.
The allegations spurred an internal investigation by the museum as well as the federal investigation by the National Labor Relations Board. A spokesperson for the National Labor Relations Board could not be reached for comment Thursday, and the agency’s regional and national websites still listed the Mattress Factory case status as “open” as of Thursday afternoon.
However, O’Toole and an attorney representing the employees who brought the complaint against the museum said the investigation was closed.
O’Toole, of Greensburg, said she received word from the museum’s attorneys Wednesday that the regional office for the board had signed off on the investigation.
As part of the settlement, the Mattress Factory is required to post a notice that tells employees that they will not be prevented from exercising their rights, including their right to discuss wage issues, workplace conditions or issues related to sexual harassment, said Megan Block, the attorney representing the employees.
“It’s the employer essentially reminding employees what their rights are under the law, which seems like a necessary part of the healing process here,” she said.
The employees who lodged the complaint in September claimed that they were confronted with hostility, intimidation and threats of losing their jobs after voicing concerns about the museum’s response to multiple reports of sexual harassment and assaults allegedly inflicted by a co-worker.
The notice must be posted by Jan. 16 in a location at the museum where all employees can see it, as well as on an app used by employees, Block said. It must be up for at least 60 days.
During that time, O’Toole said the museum will work with a compliance officer to make sure the necessary changes — which include the implementation of new policies and procedures, along with hiring a human resources employee, as agreed to in the settlement — are implemented.
O’Toole, who retired as head of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art last year, will work as acting director at the Mattress Factory until Jan. 14. The museum’s board of trustees has not made a decision on whether to reinstate Executive Director Michael Olijnyk, who was placed on leave when the National Labor Relations Board investigation started in September, O’Toole said.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, [email protected] or via Twitter @Jamie_Martines.