ICYMI: Tim Michels’ Corporation Under Fire Again Amid Allegations of Sexual Harassment and Racial Discrimination Spanning Decades
A new report from CBS Milwaukee exposes a long pattern of sexual harassment and racial discrimination at Tim Michels’ company — Michels Corporation.
In five lawsuits filed between 1998 and 2020, employees recounted instances of abuse and discrimination during their time working at Michels Corporation. Three former female employees described being physically harassed and intimidated by male coworkers for denying sexual advances on the job. These women often faced retaliation, with at least one ultimately forced to leave because of the company’s “failure to address the ongoing, severe and persistent sexual harassment.”
In 2014 and 2020, Michels Corporation faced two lawsuits brought by Black employees who described racial discrimination, including a noose found near a job site.
Michels is no stranger to unethical business practices. Earlier this year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on his plan to continue seeking millions in state contracts if elected governor despite state laws barring such action.
Read key excerpts from the article below.
Female and minority workers who worked for a Brownsville construction company co-owned by Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels were allegedly subjected to sexual assault and harassment, racial discrimination and a hostile work environment, according to federal court cases spanning over two decades.
Most of the wide-ranging allegations in five lawsuits filed between 1998-2020 occurred on job sites in other states, with one in Wisconsin, while Tim Michels and his brothers ran the company. The Brownsville-based construction group employs more than 8,000 employees.
Federal court documents reveal three former female employees separately sued Michels Corporation in 1998, and twice in 2012, claiming they faced repeated verbal and at times physical abuse, and some were pressured to have sex with male coworkers.
The company was also sued by workers who were Black, most recently in 2020, over allegations of racial hostility including a report of a noose found near a jobsite. The Brownsville construction company currently employees more than 8,000 employees.
According to a February 2012 complaint, a male superior groped the crotch and inner thigh of a female employee “with such force that he caused her significant pain.” It also alleged if she refused his demands for sex he would make sure she was “blackballed” from working on a pipeline job site located in Wyoming.
The complaint further contends after repeat incidents, the female employee reported the allegations to human resources and the male worker involved was eventually placed on paid leave after fellow co-workers corroborated her claims.
In a separate case filed in 2012, a female driver claimed her male coworkers repeatedly spoke about sexual encounters in front of her and she was given a sex toy and pornographic images as a birthday gift.
The employee asked her site superintendent if she needed documentation to file a complaint and was told it would be “taken care of,” according to court documents. The female employee said she was forced to resign from Michels Corporation because of the company’s “failure to address the ongoing, severe and persistent sexual harassment.”
Michels, who’s locked in a tight race with incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers, often touts his executive leadership at Michels Corporation on the campaign trail and helping expand the company’s workforce to more than 8,000 workers.
In 2014 and 2020, two former Black employees alleged they faced consistent racial discrimination while working on job sites in Missouri and Pennsylvania. In 2020, a male worker claimed his co-workers used the N-word and local police were called to a worksite after a noose was found in the area.
A Black Louisiana man, who filed a lawsuit in 2014 alleging he was racially discriminated against at Michels Corp and was denied career advancements, anonymously spoke to CBS 58 and called his experience a problem running rampant in the construction industry.
“It was an industry that didn’t want any women or minorities and I’ll leave it at that,” the man said. “I’m trying to move in my life.”
In response to the allegations, a spokeswoman for Tony Evers’ campaign said Michels needs to respond to questions about what happened at the company under his watch.
“Sexual harassment should never be tolerated, and voters deserve answers from Tim Michels about what went on under his leadership,” Evers spokeswoman Kayla Anderson said. “Michels’ divisive rhetoric, radical beliefs, and refusal to lead show he’s the wrong choice for governor.”