New Report: Remediation of Sexual Harassment and Retaliation at Centexsa (Guatemala)

To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Tara Mathur, Ben Hensler, and Scott Nova
Date:January 25, 2023
Re:New Report: Remediation of Sexual Harassment and Retaliation at Centexsa (Guatemala)

Please find here a new report from the WRC concerning our investigation and the remediation of physical and verbal sexual harassment and retaliatory suspension and firing of women workers by a manager at Centexsa, a garment factory in Guatemala owned by the Korean multinational, SAE-A Trading.

At the time that these violations occurred, Centexsa was disclosed for the production of university logo apparel by the licensees, Gear for Sports, Inc. (Hanesbrands), Under Armour Performance Apparel (GFSI), and College Vault by Under Armour. (While these licensees have since, for unrelated reasons, ceased sourcing collegiate goods from the factory, the Centexsa plant continues to supply Hanesbrands with non-collegiate products.)

The WRC’s investigation found that a departmental manager at the Centexsa factory had sexually harassed two women workers over extended periods of time and, after these workers rejected his advances, retaliated against them by having them suspended or fired. Specifically, the WRC’s investigation found that the departmental manager had:

  • Physically and verbally sexually harassed a woman worker at the plant on numerous occasions between November 2021 and April 2022. This harassment included multiple instances when the manager forcibly groped the worker, including in front of factory supervisors, and an incident where the manager called the woman to a secluded area of the facility, physically restrained her, and attempted to kiss her—from which the worker only escaped by biting the manager and running away. Even though the worker and the factory workers’ union repeatedly told the factory HR department of the harassment, the company permitted the manager—who had explicitly threatened the worker with revenge for resisting him—to have the woman suspended multiple times with loss of pay in retaliation.
  • Sexually harassed, both verbally and by sending her sexually explicit text messages and videos, a second woman worker at the factory, throughout her employment with the company from 2018 to 2021. This woman also had reported the manager’s harassment to the company’s HR department, which took no action against the manager. Instead, another company supervisor, who was aware of the harassment, advised the woman to agree to a sexual relationship with the manager, telling her that she would receive a better job at the factory in return. When the woman continued to reject the manager’s sexual advances, the manager ultimately caused her to be terminated.

    The WRC found that the harassment and retaliation these two workers had experienced violated their rights under Guatemalan law, international labor standards, and university codes of conduct, and we issued a series of recommendations for corrective action to Centexsa and to the licensees. Centexsa ultimately agreed to and implemented all of the WRC’s recommended corrective actions, which included:

    • Dismissing the manager who had harassed and retaliated against the two women workers and permanently barring him from any employment at any other SAE-A factory;
    • Providing the affected workers with offers of reinstatement and full back pay for loss of wages;
    • Expunging the retaliatory discipline from the workers’ personnel records;
    • Arranging for professional counseling for the two workers at the factory’s expense; and
    • Working with the workers’ union at the factory to develop an agreed-upon protocol and workplace committee to address future instances of sexual harassment.

    The WRC recognizes the significant steps that have now been taken by Centexsa and its parent company, SAE-A Trading, to address the serious sexual harassment that the factory manager committed, and we note that Hanesbrands, as a university licensee, was forthright in fulfilling its obligation to universities to ensure that these violations of university labor standards were corrected and remedied. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.