NEW BEDFORD — A local seafood processing plant and a staffing firm have been named as top offenders in a national list highlighting companies that endanger their employees through unsafe practices.

Atlantic Capes Fisheries of Fall River and BJ's Services Co. of New Bedford were included on the "Dirty Dozen" list released Wednesday and compiled by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH).

COSH, a coalition of private, nonprofit labor union coalitions, health, and technical professionals advocating for worker health and safety, included the SouthCoast companies because of sexual harassment allegations from multiple women who were hired at Atlantic Capes Fisheries through BJ's Services.

Four women employed at the seafood processing facility came out over five years ago and filed a harassment complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission which resulted in a lawsuit against the companies. The women alleged they were routinely harassed and touched inappropriately by supervisors and managers at the plant.

Two of the women were fired soon after the complaint was filed. The companies settled with the women in January of 2019 for a total of $675,000.

In a written statement, Atlantic Capes Fisheries stated that the information cited in the "Dirty Dozen" list released by COSH was false, stating that the women were not fired.

"In fact, other than a brief period of layoff for two of the women (for operational reasons related to the installation of new equipment), ACF is pleased that three of the four named plaintiffs have worked continuously at ACF for a number of years and remain valued employees in the company's operations. One of the women voluntarily chose not to return to work after sustaining an injury unrelated to her allegations."

"Conversely, the workers alleged to have behaved inappropriately are no longer employed by either ACF or BJ's. The employees separated from ACF and BJs were the alleged perpetrators, not their accusers," the company said.

Atlantic Capes Fisheries and BJ's Services Co. appeared on the list alongside companies like Amazon, Facebook, and McDonald's.

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