Texas employer found liable for sexual harassment carried out by supervisor
Posted August 22, 2016
A Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, commercial janitorial service doing business in the New Orleans Metropolitan area, has agreed to pay $45,600 in damages and provide other significant relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed last year by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced.
In the lawsuit, EEOC charged the company with liability for the severe sexual harassment perpetrated by one of the company's male supervisors. According to EEOC, while cleaning the men’s bathroom at a retail store serviced by the company, a housekeeper was sexually assaulted by the supervisor, who also threatened to kill members of her family if she told anyone about the assault. The following day, the housekeeper reported the assault, at which time a store manager contacted the sheriff's department. After the sheriff's office received the report and informed the company, the accused supervisor left Louisiana to attend a company meeting. However, he never returned to work for the company and his whereabouts have been unknown since the incident, the lawsuit said.
The EEOC says the company had no written sexual harassment policy and had never provided the harasser/supervisor, the housekeeper, or any other employee training on sexual harassment.
EEOC filed this lawsuit on behalf of the housekeeper employed by the company. The EEOC alleged that under Title VII, the company is strictly liable for the sexual harassment carried out by the supervisor. The EEOC further alleged that without a sexual harassment policy and without providing employees specifics on how to complain about harassment, the company did not exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct the severely harassing behavior.
After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation voluntary settlement through its conciliation process, EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
On Aug. 9, 2016, the judge signed and entered a consent judgment agreed to by the parties. In addition to the monetary damages, the consent judgment provides for significant non-monetary relief, including an injunction prohibiting any future discrimination. The company has further agreed to develop an effective policy to protect employees against harassment and/or retaliation and train its employees about these policies and Title VII's prohibitions concerning harassment and retaliation. The company will report to EEOC on its compliance with the consent judgment and post a notice to employees about the settlement and their rights to report any discrimination, as well as to seek redress.
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