Harassment Complaints Dropped But Hungarian Kitchen Help Treated Unfairly, Executive Says

SATURDAY, MAY 11, 1996

An inquiry uncovered no evidence of sexual harassment against women working in kitchens serving U.S. troops and the complaints have been withdrawn, an American executive said Friday.

But other complaints by the Hungarian women about unfair treatment were justified and action was being taken to correct them, said Doyle E. McBride, president of International American Products Ltd.

All except one of the complaints of sexual harassment involved American civilians. The one against a soldier is being pursued by the military, McBride said.

The company, based in Columbia, S.C., runs the kitchens serving the U.S. forces, which are the backup troops for the American contingent of the NATO-led Bosnian peace force.

McBride arrived Monday to investigate published reports quoting Hungarian women employed as kitchen help. The women alleged they were fondled, propositioned or otherwise sexually harassed.

“Even though no instances of sexual harassment were identified during this investigation, it should be noted that the investigation brought out several issues that require immediate corrective action … by management,” McBride said. He did not elaborate.

Several of the women who made the original complaint said Friday they had been intimidated by threats they would lose their jobs unless they withdrew the complaints. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

More than 3,000 troops, most of them Americans, are stationed at the bases in Taszar and Kaposvar and many more pass through on their way to and from Bosnia. About 200 Hungarians are employed in the kitchens that serve them.


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