EEOC: One store manager sexually harassed more than 20 women

Posted in Sexual Harassment on December 20, 2013

The environment of a given workplace is influenced by the personalities and actions of those who work in it. Unfortunately, an environment that is otherwise friendly and respectful can often be poisoned by the actions of just one person; especially someone in a position of authority.

Recently, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached a settlement in a lawsuit it brought against a grocery store in Jackson, Mississippi, for the actions of its manager. According to the EEOC’s investigation, this one male manager sexually harassed more than 20 female employees.

The sexual harassment included using degrading and sexually offensive language, propositioning female employees for sex, trying to solicit sex from female employees with offers of money and other benefits and a host of other completely inappropriate behaviors.

The company that operates the grocery store “strongly” denies the allegations, despite the overwhelming number of women who were allegedly harassed. And while it would admit no wrongdoing, the company agreed to settle the EEOC Lawsuit. As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to pay $325,000 and to enact measures that will help prevent sexual harassment and better address it if/when it occurs.

Commenting on the case, the director of an EEOC district office said: “there is no excuse for the sort of misconduct that was charged here — unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and degrading language . . . It interferes with an individual’s work performance and creates an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment.”

A recent news article makes no mention of whether the manager who allegedly harassed more than 20 employees has been fired. In light of the allegations, however, it would seem to be the most appropriate and effective course of action.

Although this case did not occur here in California, it nonetheless sends an important message to California companies. Regardless of whether sexual harassment is being perpetrated by many employees or just one, companies have the responsibility to address the concerns of victims and rectify the situation. When they fail to act in a way that protects their employees from harassment, they may be held liable.

Source: Business Insurance, “Grocery store chain settles EEOC sexual harassment lawsuit for $325k,” Judy Greenwald, Dec. 16, 2013