Posts Tagged ‘same-sex harassment’

Same-Sex Harassment Alleged at Senior Center

Employees who work with patients have enough to worry about without having to worry that their supervisors will make unwanted sexual advances.

Olympia, Wash.-based Koelsch Senior Communities, LLC, which provides assisted living and other care facilities for seniors, violated federal law by allowing a female supervisor to sexually harass a female employee, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Friday, September 28.

The EEOC’s investigation found that from very early on, employee Rebecca Flores was made uncomfortable by the conduct of her female supervisor at The Hampton at Salmon Creek, a Koelsch assisted care facility in Vancouver, Wash. This included comments about Flores’s clothing and appear­ance; a request to be friends on Facebook; repeatedly asking for foot massages; and discussions of the supervisor’s interest in extramarital affairs and sexual bondage.

In particular, Flores was disturbed by an incident where her supervisor stood close behind her and expressed a desire to rub her buttocks. When Flores reported the unwelcome behavior to upper management, Koelsch failed to investigate properly and quickly sided with the supervisor, which emboldened the woman to continue harassing Flores with sexually charged comments and unwanted touching.

Workplace sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (EEOC v. Koelsch Senior Commu­nities, LLC, Case No. 3:18-cv-05792) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks compensatory damages for Flores and injunctive relief, which typically includes training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the worksite, and compli­ance reporting.

“Whether committed by a female or male against someone who is the same sex or opposite sex, the law is very clear–employers must take action to stop and prevent sexual harassment,” said EEOC Seattle Field Director Nancy Sienko. She noted that sexual harassment prevention is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission’s 2017-21 Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Carmen Flores (no relation to Rebecca Flores) added, “As we know all too well in the #MeToo era, employers who fail to investigate harassment allegations or make ex­cuses for ‘high-value’ workers accused of harassment do so at their own peril. Employers who want to avoid such pitfalls should consult the checklists for employers compiled by the EEOC’s Select Task Force on Workplace Harassment.”

According to its website, http://koelschseniorcommunities.com, Koelsch operates senior care facilities at 34 locations in Washington, California, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Illinois.

Hawaii 5 Uh-Oh: Island Tour Co. in $570K Settlement of Male-on Male Harassment Case

The CBS show Hawaii 5-0 chronicles the derring-do of this band of crime fighters. But to stop alleged male-on-male harassment at Hawaii tour companies, the intervention of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was needed.

Three related Hawaii tour companies–Discovering Hidden Hawaii Tours, Inc., Hawaii Tours and Transportation Inc. and Big Kahuna Luau, Inc.–will pay $570,000 and provide other relief to settle a sexual harassment suit filed against the companies by the EEOC, the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC filed suit against the three companies in 2017, charging that the male president of Discovering Hidden Hawaii Tours engaged in a pattern of sexually harassing male employees, many of whom were subsequently forced to quit as a result of the egregious harassment or were retaliated against for reporting the harassment, thereby violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (EEOC v. Discovering Hidden Hawaii Tours, Inc. et al, Case No: 1:17-cv-00067-DKW-KSC).

As part of the settlement announced today, the parties entered into a three-year consent decree providing $570,000 in damages to a class of male employees. The decree requires that the alleged harasser not have further involvement in the operations and divested of control of the companies. The companies will designate an external equal employment opportunity (EEO) consultant to ensure the companies’ compliance with Title VII and anti-retaliation policies and procedures.

The decree also requires an independent complaint process and impartial investigations, together with a centralized tracking system for harassment and retaliation complaints and provisions holding supervisors, managers and officers of the companies accountable for harassment and retaliation. Annual training on sexual harassment and retaliation will be provided, especially for the president and other supervisors and managers, to educate them on their rights and responsibilities on sexual harassment and retaliation with the goal of preventing and deterring any discriminatory practices in the future.

“This settlement sends an unequivocal message that accountability is required regardless of who the alleged harasser is and no one is above the law under Title VII,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which includes Hawai’i in its jurisdiction, “The EEOC will continue to relentlessly enforce laws against any sexual harassment in workplaces.”

Glory Gervacio Saure, director of the EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office, added, “Unfortunately, our society still stigmatizes the victims, not the perpetrators, of sexual harassment. Especially in light of the #MeToo movement, it is critical for victims to speak up, despite the stigma, so that we can effectively address sexual harassment in the workplace.”

According to the company’s website, http://www.discoverhiddenhawaiitours.com, Discovering Hidden Hawaii Tours provides guided tours of Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kauai.

Individuals who may have experienced sexual harassment or have information pertaining to sexual harassment in connection with employment at Discovering Hidden Hawaii Tours should contact the EEOC at 808-541-3133 for more information.

EEOC: Same-Sex Harassment At Hawaiian Tour Companies Went Unchecked For Decade Plus

The president of a Hawaiian tour company made life hellish for male employees, if allegations in a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prove true.

The EEOC announced today it has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against three related Hawaii tour companies alleging ongoing sexual harassment of male employees.

The defendants in the case are Discovering Hidden Hawaii Tours, Inc., Hawaii Tours and Transporta­tion, Inc. and Big Kahuna Luau, Inc.

According to the EEOC, the president of Discovering Hidden Hawaii Tours engaged in a pattern of sexually harassing young males after recruiting them to work for his companies.

The alleged harassment is shocking both in its particulars and in duration.

The harass­ment, which spanned more than a decade, included inviting males to join in sex parties with him; show­ing them pornographic videos and photos; requiring them to show him their private parts in order to be considered for employment; making employment opportunities contingent upon engaging in sexual acts with him; and performing unwanted sexual acts on male employees.

When employees complained about the harassment, the company failed to take corrective action, the EEOC charged. Some male employees felt that they had no other recourse but to quit. In some instances, the president retaliated against male employees after they complained about the harassment to their supervisors, according to the suit.

“All employees, regardless of gender, have the right to work in a harassment-free workplace and should never be forced to endure such abuse,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which includes Hawaii in its jurisdiction. “I applaud these young men for coming forward to tell their stories.”

Settlement Reached Between EEOC, N.C. Phone Company in Same-Sex Harassment Lawsuit

$50,000 is how much it will cost ABC Phones of North Carolina to a lawsuit filed against by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that a female sales consultant working for the company was subjected to same-sex harassment.

The EEOC announced the settlement today, bringing to a conclusion this suit that it filed in March

The EEOC charged that in 2013, Fredarika Bowden was sexually harassed by a female co-worker during her employment with A Wireless. Bowden worked as a sales consultant at the company’s store in Lumberton, N.C.

The suit charged that the harassment included inappropriate touching and sexual comments. EEOC’s complaint further claimed that although much of the offensive conduct was witnessed by a member of management and Bowden reported the harassment to management several times, the company failed to promptly stop the harassment.

Sexual harassment is illegal, regardless of whether the harasser is the same or the opposite gender as the victim,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “When employees report a manager’s or co-worker’s inappropriate behavior, employers must immediately investigate the claims and take steps to stop the misconduct.”

Female Sales Consultant Was Victim of Same-Sex Harassment, EEOC Alleges in New Title VII Suit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is going to court on behalf of a female sales consultant for a North Carolina phone company, alleging that she was harassed by another female employee with no effort by management to put a stop to this behavior.

According to EEOC’s suit, in 2013, Fredarika Bowden, a sales consultant at ABC Phones of North Carolina store in Lumberton, N.C., was sexually harassed by a female co-worker. The suit charged that the harassment included inappropriate touching and sexual comments. EEOC said that although much of the offensive conduct was witnessed by a member of management, and Bowden also reported the harassment to management several times, the company failed to promptly stop the harassment.

Sexual harassment is illegal, regardless of whether the harasser is female or male, or the same or opposite gender as the victim,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “When employees report a manager’s or co-worker’s inappropriate behavior, employers must immediately investigate the claims and take steps to stop the harassment.”

Read today’s announcement about the lawsuit.

$155K Closes Same-Sex Harassment Lawsuit Against North Carolina-Based Security Company

Security companies seem peculiarly prone to allegations of sexual harassment-what with the macho attitude that sometimes prevails.  Also, while they’re minding the store, they may smugly assume no one’s watching them.

Well, somebody was watching the goings on at  Metro Special Police & Security Services, Inc., a Charlotte-based provider of private security and public safety services. The EEOC announced earlier this week that the company agreed to pay $155,000 to settle allegations of same-sex harassment and retaliation.

I’ll spare you the details of the alleged harassment, except to say that it involved a male captain and male lieutenant asking other male employees to perform a variety of sex-related acts, including posing for nude pictures.

In addition to the monetary relief, the company also will be subject to court supervision for 5 years.

“All workers have the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “No one should have to put up with sexual comments or touching while they are just trying to make a living. Employers need to halt or prevent it – and the best prevention is training supervisors and managers on how to put a stop to such misconduct as soon as it appears.”

Read more here.

Court: Same-Sex Harassment Not Confined to Attacks for Behaving in Effeminate Manner

If you’re looking to defend against a claim that one of your supervisors or employees engaged in same-sex harassment, don’t count on convincing a judge that there was no Title VII violation because the motivation for the behavior was not that the alleged target acted too effeminately.

Title VII same-sex harassment claims encompass behavior much wider than that, a federal district court in Pennsylvania has ruled.

The case was brought by Salvatore Rachuna against Best Fitness Corp., a company based in Pennsylvania, which employed him as a fitness specialist until allegedly firing him because he complained about intolerable working conditions. Specifically, that he refused to participate in a company vice president’s lewd remarks and conduct about employees’ sexual preferences.

According to Rachuna, he was the victim of sexual harassment because he refused to conform to a sexual stereotype of a homosexual male. The company alleged that his claim should be dismissed because he did not allege he was being harassed for being effeminate. That’s a distinction without a difference, according to the court, because those are not the only circumstances that can support a claim of same-sex harassment based on gender stereotyping.

You can read the entire ruling here.