Posts Tagged ‘sexual harassment’

Sexual Harassment Forced Women Out at NY Property Mgt. Company, EEOC Alleges in Suit

The sexual harassment at this New York company was so bad it made the victims quit their jobs, according to federal civil rights enforcers.

Birchez Associates, LLC and Rondout Properties Management, LLC, Kingston, N.Y.-based housing development and property management companies, violated federal law when they subjected female employees to a sexually hostile work environment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed July 10.

According to the EEOC’s suit, the owner and top management official of the companies repeatedly subjected female employees to crude sexual comments. He frequently yelled at his female employees and used obscene sexist epithets. The harassment also involved unwelcome physical contact and subjecting a female employee to pornography on a cell phone. Despite repeated objections by female employees, the conduct did not stop, forcing a number of women to resign their employment in order to escape the harassment.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sex, including subjecting employees a hostile work environment based on sex. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York (EEOC v. Birchez Associates LLC and Rondout Properties Management, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-00810) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC will seek back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief. The agency’s litigation effort will be led by trial attorney Sebastian Riccardi, supervised by Supervisory Trial Attorney Justin Mulaire.

“Employees have a right to work in an environment free of harassment,” said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. “Sexual harassment is against the law; it is well past the day when employers can tolerate this type of conduct.”

Riccardi said, “It does not matter if it is the owner of the company who is the harasser. Nobody is above the law.”

EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry added, “Employees who stand up to harassment and discrimination in the workplace are heroes, and the EEOC will take action to enforce the law when egregious violations are discovered.”

The New York District Office of the EEOC is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in New York, northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Plastics Co. Sued for Hostile Work Environment

Firing an employee for filing a harassment complaint only compounds the employer’s legal mess.

Element Plastics Mfg., LLC, a plastics manufacturer based in Sugar Land, Texas, violated federal law by creating a hostile work environment which resulted in the sexual harassment of a female employee, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on June 20th. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee was subsequently fired in retaliation for complaining about the abuse, also in violation of federal law.

The EEOC’s lawsuit charges that an Element Plastics employee was subjected to sexual comments, unwelcome touching and other improper and sexually hostile conduct by an employee or supervisor of the company beginning in December 2016. Within several weeks of her complaining about the harassment to her direct supervisor and a manager, the female employee was fired on or about April 27, 2017 in retaliation for her complaints.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 4:19-cv-02218) against Element Plastics Mfg., LLC in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks an injunction prohibiting such actions in the future, as well as back pay with pre-judgment interest, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the employee, in amounts to be determined at trial.

“Federal law mandates that employees be free of sexual harassment in the workplace and protected from adverse employment actions as a result of complaining about such behavior,” said Rayford O. Irvin, district director of the EEOC’s Houston District Office. “Such conduct deprives employees of equal employment opportunities and therefore violates Title VII.”

Rudy Sustaita, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Houston, explained, “Sexual harassment in the workplace cannot be tolerated. Further, an employee must have proper recourse for complaining about sexual harassment without fear of losing her job.”

The EEOC’s senior trial attorney in charge of the case, Connie Gatlin, added, “Title VII protects employees from sexually abusive and hostile working environments. Allowing sexual harassment to flourish unchecked and punishing an employee for complaining about it constitutes workplace dis­crimination.”

According to the Texas Secretary of State, Element Plastics Mfg., LLC is a manufacturing company in existence since January 2015.

The EEOC’s Houston District Office is located on the sixth floor of the Leland Federal Building at 1919 Smith St. in Houston.

Store, Owner Retaliated Against Manager Who Reported Harassment, EEOC Alleges in New Suit

Ridding the workplace of sexual harassment isn’t possible if those who report it do so at the risk of being fired or disciplined.

Hat World, Inc. d/b/a “Lids” and Genesco, Inc., former owner of Hat World, violated federal law by retaliating against a store manager who reported sexual harassment and filed a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged in a lawsuit filed June 13.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in early 2016 and early to mid-2017, Jalesa Staton, store manager of the Greenbrier Square “Lids” location, made written complaints to corporate human resources for Hat World and Genesco that she was being sexually harassed by her district manager. Following the 2017 complaints, Staton was disciplined and involuntarily transferred to the Military Circle “Lids” location. In May 2017, Staton made another discrimination complaint and filed a dis­crimination charge with the EEOC. The EEOC’s complaint charges that the companies fired Staton shortly after she filed the EEOC charge because she filed the charge.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who engage in activity protected under Title VII, including complaining about alleged discrimination or filing EEOC charges. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division (EEOC v. Hat World, Inc. d/b/a Lids, et al., Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00314) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

“A company’s ability to provide a work environment free of unlawful harassment is absolutely dependent on its employees being able report harassment or file an EEOC charge without hesitation,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Lynette Barnes. “Every time an employee complaint about harassment, be it formal or informal, leads to discipline and discharge, the entire work environment is placed at risk.”

Harassment Settlement Costs Employer $50,000

What’s the cost of settling sexual harassment claims? $50,000 for this staffing agency.

Chicago-based Staff Management | SMX (SMX), which provides temporary employees to the light-industrial sector worldwide, has agreed to pay a female former employee $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday.

The EEOC filed suit against the company in February 2018, charging SMX violated federal law when a male manager at an SMX worksite in Kansas City, Kan., made explicit sexual comments to female employees and demanded sexual favors from them. Although one victim complained, the harassment continued, including the male manager exposing himself to her, according to the suit. After the victim again complained about the harassment, SMX investigated but allowed the manager to return to work. When the manager threatened the woman and demanded to know why she reported his misconduct, the distressed and dejected employee quit.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment, and forbids retaliation against employees who complain about sexual harassment. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. SMX, LLC d/b/a Staff Management | SMX, Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-2058) in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief, the three-year consent decree settling the suit, signed by Judge Holly L. Teeter, enjoins SMX from violating Title VII in the future. It also orders that SMX train its temporary employees at worksites in Kansas and Missouri on identifying and reporting sexual harassment and increase sexual harassment training for its investigators who handle sexual harassment complaints for the company. The company will also provide regular reports to the EEOC regarding sexual harassment complaints and how it handles those complaints.

“Employers need to understand that anti-harassment policies and procedures, however good in theory, must be vigorously applied and enforced to protect all employees,” said L. Jack Vasquez, Jr., director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office. “Unambiguous, comprehensive and frequent harassment training is crucial to prevent harassment and retaliation.”

Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s regional attorney in St. Louis, added, “Temporary staffing employees can be particularly vulnerable to harassment or other coercion. This settlement both compensates the alleged victim in this case and will help protect others from sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination.”

Harassment, Retaliation Claim Sets Back Chicago Fitness Club $45K in Settlement With the EEOC

Allowing sexual harassment to go unchecked is bad enough; retaliating against the complaining employee only digs the employer a deeper hole.

Lakeshore Sport and Fitness, a fitness club in Chicago, will pay $45,000 and provide other relief to settle a sex harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced Friday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a Lakeshore employee filed a discrimination charge against the company alleging she had been sexually harassed by another employee while working in the club’s restaurant and that her complaints were ignored. The employee claimed that the company fired her for making the complaints. Two other female employees also claimed that they were sexually harassed by the same employee.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. LHC Operating LLC d/b/a Lakeshore Sport and Fitness, No. 1:17-cv-06803) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago on Sept. 20, 2017 after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the suit, entered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gilbert on May 9, prohibits future sex harassment and retaliation and provides that Lakeshore will pay $45,000 to three former employees; post a notice of the settlement; and train its managers and supervisors regarding employer obligations and the rights of employees under Title VII.

“Particularly in this era of #metoo, employers must recognize the importance of taking claims of sexual harassment seriously,” said Julianne Bowman, district director for the EEOC’s Chicago District.

Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District, added, “Sex harassment in restaurant environments is sadly not uncommon. Without a clear mechanism for reporting and investigating complaints, the behavior can go on unchecked. We appreciate Lakeshore’s willingness to strengthen its policies to prevent this from recurring.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District is responsible for investigating charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

On the Menu at this Greek NYC Eatery? Harassment of Female Employees, Says EEOC

Fresh Greek is no place for women to work, if these allegations by the government pan out.

Fresh Greek, a restaurant chain with four stores in New York City, violated federal law by subjecting female employees to groping, grinding and lascivious comments, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Monday

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the district manager of GRK’s four New York City restaurants touched female employees’ breasts and backsides; ground into their backsides with his crotch; placed his head on their breasts; hugged and picked them up; and massaged their shoulders.

The EEOC said the district manager told one employee that she would make a good stripper and that he’d like to sleep with her mother; described the tattoo near his genitals while patting his thigh; called female employees “bitches,” “baby,” and “beautiful”; talked about wanting them to lose weight or wear tighter clothing; and discussed his and their sex lives.

The lawsuit also charges that female employees complained to the district manager and told him to stop, but that he laughed and continued harassing them. They complained to other managers as well, but nothing was done. With no end in sight to this continuing harassment, some felt compelled to resign, the EEOC said.

All this alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination-including harassment-because of sex.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (EEOC v. GRK Fresh Holdings LLC et al., Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-04614) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief. The agency’s litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorney Daniel Seltzer and Supervisory Trial Attorney Nora Curtin.

“As this case demonstrates, sexual harassment of employees in the restaurant industry is an ongoing problem,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office. “The EEOC stands ready to protect workers in this and other industries from harassment if their employers fail to do so.”

Seltzer added, “Simply having an anti-harassment policy doesn’t cut it. An employer must have an effective procedure for employees to report harassment, and must promptly rectify it. Where, as here, an employer fails to do so, the EEOC will step in.”

According to Kevin Berry, the EEOC’s New York District director, “No employee should have to endure pervasive verbal and physical harassment simply to earn a living.”

The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont. The Buffalo Local Office conducted the investigation resulting in this lawsuit.

Resort Owner Too Hands-on With Female Staff, EEOC Alleges in New Sexual Harassment Suit

These supposedly laid-back venues were anything but for the female staff, according to federal civil rights enforcers.

Two resorts located along the Columbia River violated federal law when their owner repeatedly subjected female employees to sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed May 13.

According to the lawsuit, female employees at both Bonneville Hot Springs and Carson Hot Springs Resort and Golf Course faced repeated attempts to get them alone to subject them to lewd sexual comments and propositions, inappropriate touching and groping by owner Perfil Cam.  Cam, along with his daughter Marfa Scheratski, owned and managed the two resorts. Despite repeated complaints to various members of human resources and management, the resorts failed to stop the harassment.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.  The EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. Bonneville Hot Springs, Inc. and Carson Hot Springs Resort, LLC., Case No. 3:19-cv-05409) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks money damages for the female workers and injunctive relief to remedy and prevent sexual harassment from recurring.

This is the agency’s second lawsuit involving Bonneville Hot Springs Inc. The earlier lawsuit was settled on behalf of group of female employees for $470,000 in 2008. (EEOC, et. al. v. Bonneville Hot Springs, Inc. Case No. C07-5321-FDB.)

EEOC Seattle Field Office Director Nancy Sienko said, “The EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace observes that power disparities can be a risk factor for harassment. The power difference between an owner and his employees is very extreme, making it more intimidating for those workers to speak up about the unwelcomed behavior.  We commend these women for reporting harassment internally as well as to the EEOC, and we will defend their rights to work free from such conduct.”

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Teri Healy said, “These resorts were two of the largest employers in this rural community.  No worker should be forced to choose between earning a living and preserving personal safety and dignity.”

Current and former employees who have information about sexual harassment at the resorts or were victims of harassment are encouraged to contact the EEOC.  Lead Attorney Healy can be reached at 1-833-779-3986 or through email: BonnevilleCarson@eeoc.gov.

The EEOC’s Seattle Field Office has jurisdiction over Eastern Washington.