US Mint forks out $9m over sexual harassment of staff

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The incidents took place at the Mint's plant in Denver, Colorado, which produces 32 million coins a day of US currency. Under the settlement - which has to be approved by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) - an independent monitor is being appointed for the next three years to make sure there is no repetition.

Up to 130 women could share in the settlement if it is approved, said Lynn Feiger, who represented the workers who filed the complaint. "We believe this is a positive step for everyone concerned," she added. The Mint is denying liability in the case, but settled to avoid lengthy and costly EEOC proceedings.

Shortly after the announcement about 20 women, including some current employees, gathered outside the Mint building to celebrate but declined to comment, saying to do so could jeopardise their settlement.

The complaint was filed in 2003 by 32 women who alleged that pornography was openly displayed at the Denver Mint, and women were subjected to unwanted sexual advances and sexual discrimination by male workers and managers.

Mint officials in Washington dispatched a team to search the Denver plant for sexist art and graffiti and to meet female employees.

In a separate case, a female former worker won $80,000 in damages in 2005 after alleging she was subjected to a hostile environment at the Mint.