THIS IS AN ADVERTISMENT

Monthly Archives: October 2014

Baywood Home Care to Pay $30,000 under Decree Ending EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

By | Employment Law | No Comments

Home Health Care Provider Fired Employee With Fibromyalgia and Osteoarthritis Because of Walking Restrictions, Federal Agency Charged

MINNEAPOLIS – A Minneapolis-area home health care provider will pay $30,000 under a consent decree entered here which resolves a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that Baywood Home Care violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide Laurie Goodnough with a reasonable accommodation, and instead firing her as a home health aide. Goodnough has fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis that substantially limits her walking and bending.

John Rowe, director of the EEOC’s Chicago District, of which Minnesota is a part, managed the agency’s administrative investigation which preceded the lawsuit. Rowe said that the EEOC’s suit had alleged that two supervisors observed Goodnough walking with a cane, contacted Baywood Home Care’s owner and complained about it. The EEOC alleged that Baywood Home Care then fired Goodnough because of her disability, and failed to engage in the interactive process to determine and provide her with a reasonable accommodation.

Such alleged conduct violates the ADA. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Minnesota Living Assistance, Inc. d/b/a Baywood Home Care, Civil Action No. 0:14-cv-00809 [ADM-SER]) in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the suit, signed by U.S. District Judge Ann D. Montgomery on October 28, 2014, provides $30,000 in monetary relief to Goodnough. It also requires Baywood Home Care to train its management personnel and employees involved in hiring on the ADA, including reasonable accommodation, and the interactive process. The decree also requires Baywood Home Care to revise its performance evaluation criteria to hold managers and supervisors accountable for failing to report, take appropriate action, or engage in the interactive process with respect to disability discrimination complaints or requests for accommodation. Finally, Baywood Home Care must report complaints of disability discrimination to the EEOC during the decree’s three-year term.

“The consent decree is going to require meaningful change at Baywood Home Care,” according to John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District. “They are going to be educating managers, supervisors and employees about disability discrimination. They are going to be training their people on the company’s obligation to engage in the interactive process to obtain information about an employee’s disability and need for accommodations. They are going to avoid stereotypes which often lead to trouble for the employer.”

Tina Burnside, the trial attorney in EEOC’s Minneapolis Area Office who litigated the case, added, “The consent decree is about a good deal more than the $30,000 in compensation. It’s also about specifically targeted non-monetary relief to eradicate disability based discrimination at Baywood Home Care. Eliminating barriers to hiring for people with disabilities – working on the application process, for example – is a priority under the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan. That has driven our pursuit of this case and undergirds our support for this decree.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and litigation in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.

Can a Private Citizen Sue If They’re Sexually Harassed by Company Employees?

By | Sexual Harassment | No Comments

Sexual harassment of an employee by an employer or co-worker is illegal, and the subject of many employment lawsuits. But what if you are sexually harassed at a company you do not work for? Even if you’re a customer and you’re openly harassed by an employee of the company, you cannot file a sexual harassment lawsuit. You can, however, call the corporate office to make a complaint and refuse to do business with them again.

Catcalling by Construction WorkerThis private citizen issue is similar to the idea that contractors are not subject to the same protection as regular employees.

A common example is when a customer walks into a car dealership. The car salesperson may try to hit on and sexually harass the customer, and he or she can complain. However, there are no laws that protect the customer in that scenario. Unless the car salesperson actually touches the customer, there is nothing the customer can legally do.

Sexual harassment is strictly a workplace or employment issue. A private citizen could sexually harass another private citizen but there are no legal complaints that can be made. This is something that happens regularly at bars. One patron hits on another, and is rather bad at it, or unwilling to take the hint (or outright rejection), and continues to bother the other patron. It’s annoying, and possibly even frightening, but it’s not against the law.

If there was any kind of physical assault, battery charges could be brought against the person who committed the assault, but nothing else can be done.

Basically, if you are harassed by an employee of a company you do business with, your best bet is to tell friends about it, so they can avoid doing business with that company as well.

If you have questions about sexual harassment, or believe you are being sexually harassed by a co-worker or boss, please contact the Cassis Law Office at (502) 736-8100.

 

Photo credit: Michael (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Vamco Sheet Metals to Pay $215,000 to Settle EEOC Sex Discrimination Suit

By | Employment Law | No Comments

Women Working on John Jay College Expansion Treated Unfairly by Construction Contractor, Federal Agency Charged

NEW YORK – Construction contractor Vamco Sheet Metals, Inc., will pay $215,000 as part of the settlement of a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. Legal Momentum, a women’s rights nonprofit organization (formerly NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund), joined the EEOC’s suit on behalf of four discrimination victims.

The lawsuit challenged the treatment of female sheet metal workers on the massive John Jay College of Criminal Justice expansion in Manhattan from 2009 through 2011. According to the lawsuit, female sheet metal workers were fired for pretextual reasons, some after just a few days of work. The suit also alleged that the women were treated unfavorably compared to men, including being assigned menial tasks like fetching coffee and having their breaks monitored. One new mother was denied a clean private place to pump breast milk.

Sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Vamco Sheet Metal, Inc., Civil Action No. 13-CV-6088) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $215,000 in damages to be paid to the discrimination victims, the three-year consent decree resolving the case requires Vamco to implement policy revisions that provide for equal opportunities, distribute the policy to all employees, and post notice of this resolution. The decree also requires annual anti-discrimination training for all supervisory employees and monitoring of Vamco’s employment practices by the EEOC.

“These women had decades of experience as skilled sheet metal workers,” said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Robert D. Rose. “Employers, even in male-dominated industries like construction, must provide women an equal chance to prove their skills and practice their trade.”

Thomas Lepak, the EEOC trial attorney assigned to the case, added, “Through this consent decree, Vamco has agreed to changes that will help ensure women get a fair shake on the worksite.”

Carol Robles-Roman, Legal Momentum’s president and CEO, said, “The company now has a policy that expressly entitles nursing employees to an accommodation. We intend to work with other employers who operate in non-traditional work settings to help them follow Vamco’s lead.”

Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund) is a national women’s rights organization that specifically focuses on economic justice and equality under the law for women and girls. Protecting women’s workplace rights is one of Legal Momentum’s priority areas. Legal Momentum has particularly worked on advancing the rights of pregnant workers, protecting women’s access to non-traditional employment opportunities, and safeguarding the employment rights of women who work in traditionally male-dominated industries.

Eliminating barriers to recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against women, racial/ethnic groups, religious groups, older workers, and people with disabilities is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

The EEOC is the federal government agency responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s website at www.eeoc.gov. The EEOC’s New York District Office oversees New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

EEOC Sues Texas Oilfield Services Company for Retaliation

By | Employment Law | No Comments

Garrison Contractors Fired Its Only Female Oilfield Roustabout After Reporting Sexual Harassment, Federal Agency Charges

DALLAS – An Iraan, Texas oilfield construction and services company violated federal discrimination law by firing its only female roustabout after she reported being sexually harassed on the job, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Elma Garza was hired by Garrison Contractors, Inc. in January 2012 as a roustabout (a kind of oilfield worker). The EEOC said that during her employment, Garza was subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct by a co-worker and by an individual employed by another company. After Garza’s report of the unwanted sexual contact by the other company’s employee came to the attention of Garrison’s CEO, he fired her, the EEOC said.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against retaliation for filing an EEOC charge or complaining about discriminatory practices, including harassment. The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 4:14-cv-00073, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Pecos Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In this case, the EEOC seeks compensatory and punitive damages and back pay, as well as injunctive relief, including an order barring Garrison from engaging in retaliatory treatment in the future.

“Employers are only compounding their own troubles and liability when they make a bad situation worse and punish a harassment victim,” said Devika Seth, senior trial attorney in the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. “The EEOC stands ready to vindicate Ms. Garza’s exercise of her civil rights and the rights of all employees who are punished when they report harassment on the job.”

EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Canino added, “In cases where women may work in a traditionally male environment, they need to have the confidence that they can talk to managers about harassing conduct without risking their income to do so. A woman should not have to wait until sexually offensive conduct reaches its most extreme forms before she calls the company’s attention to it. Retaliation, if uncontested, strips workers of the protections afforded by our laws.”

Eliminating policies and practices that discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes, or that impede the EEOC’s investigative or enforcement efforts, is of one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov. The EEOC’s Dallas District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in northern Texas and parts of New Mexico.

Jury Awards $499,000 Against EmCare in EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Case

By | Employment Law | No Comments

Physician Outsourcing Group Fired Employees for Reporting Sexually Charged Environment, Jury Found

DALLAS – A Dallas federal court jury, on Friday, October 24, 2014, returned a verdict awarding almost half a million dollars to three former employees in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against EmCare, a provider of physician services, the federal agency announced.

The jury of two women and four men awarded former Executive Assistant Gloria Stokes $250,000 in punitive damages based on the claim that she was sexually harassed by her supervisor, the division CEO, Jim McKinney. Stokes, who filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC, also individually intervened in the Commission’s lawsuit and was personally represented by Laura Hallmon of Fielding, Parker & Hallmon LLP. The case was tried before U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis.

The EEOC also sought relief for Bonnie Shaw, an EmCare credentialer, and Luke Trahan, a recruiter, based on retaliatory discharge. The jury awarded Shaw and Trahan $82,000 and $167,000, respectively, to compensate them for lost wages and benefits as a result of having been fired for reporting and opposing a sexually hostile work environment within the AnesthesiaCare Division of EmCare.

The jury verdict followed five days of trial, including the presentation of evidence by the EEOC about constant lewd sexual comments and behavior of former AnesthesiaCare CEO Jim McKinney, as well as several other management-level employees in that Division. Stokes, Shaw and Trahan all testified about the lack of an appropriate response by Human Resources to their complaints about the misconduct. Shaw and Trahan testified about jointly reporting to human resources that McKinney made an inappropriate remark to Shaw’s then-15-year-old daughter at a “Bring Your Child to Work Day” event. Shaw and Trahan were both fired, within an hour of each other, just six weeks later for reasons the company alleged were performance issues.

Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 3:11-CV-02017-P) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Ms. Stokes, Ms. Shaw, and Mr. Trahan spent their time at EmCare working diligently to do their jobs well despite the pervasive sexual environment that human resources allowed Jim McKinney to create and perpetuate,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Meaghan Shepard. “Their complaints were ignored, and instead of getting support from HR, Ms. Shaw and Mr. Trahan were fired for daring to speak out against the division CEO. By today’s verdict, it is clear that all three have finally been heard.”

EEOC General Counsel David Lopez added, “The EEOC stands ready to take cases to the people through the courthouse, and to shine light on these stories of discrimination and retaliation whenever early administrative resolutions cannot be reached. It is particularly important for us to act to protect employees who have risked their jobs simply because they have stepped up to challenge discrimination in the workplace.”

Janet Elizondo, director of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, said, “I am very pleased with the excellent work of our investigative staff in preparing the case that led to this great result. Retired EEOC Investigator Norma Warner returned to provide rebuttal testimony that I’m sure was critical in helping this jury reach its decision.”

EmCare has more than 750 practices serving nearly 600 hospitals, hospital systems and other healthcare facilities nationwide.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Wells Fargo to Pay $295,000 to Resolve EEOC Finding of Retaliation Against Hispanic Employee

By | Employment Law | No Comments

Company Unlawfully Fired Native Spanish Speaker Because She Complained About Language Issues, Federal Agency Charged

MINNEAPOLIS – Wells Fargo & Company has agreed to pay $295,000 to resolve a discrimination charge filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. A finding by the EEOC determined that Wells Fargo disciplined and terminated a Minneapolis Wells Fargo employee in retaliation for complaining of differential treatment based on her race and national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The EEOC’s investigation revealed that the employee reported to the Wells Fargo human resources department that she was being subjected to differential treatment and that her supervisor told her not to speak Spanish during her non-duty time. Shortly thereafter, the EEOC found, Wells Fargo initiated discipline and ultimately terminated the employee for practices other employees regularly engaged in without discipline.

In addition to the monetary relief, the conciliation agreement requires Wells Fargo to conduct four hours of annual training for all managers and supervisors in the personal insurance business division where the employee worked. The training, which may be observed by the EEOC, will encompass the federal and state laws that prohibit employment discrimination, with special consideration given to anti-retaliation provisions and requirements to speak only English at work that violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In addition, Wells Fargo will distribute to all employees annually an electronic mail message affirming its commitment to diversity, multilingual ability and the use of languages other than English in the workplace. Wells Fargo will also report to the EEOC all allegations of discrimination or retaliation annually during the term of the three-year agreement.

“Unlawful acts of retaliation by employers will not be ignored by the EEOC,” said EEOC Chicago District Director John Rowe.

“Employers need to take proactive steps to end retaliation at their workplace,” said Julie Schmid, acting director of the Minneapolis Area Office, where the charge was filed. “We are pleased that Wells Fargo chose to work with us to reach this conciliation agreement.”

The Minneapolis Area Office is part of the EEOC’s Chicago District. The Chicago District is responsible for investigating discrimination charges in Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and North and South Dakota.

The EEOC enforces federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Jury Finds In Favor Of EEOC That One-Armed Security Guard Was Fired Because Of His Disability

By | Employment Law | No Comments

MIAMI – In a verdict in favor of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a jury has found that a licensed security guard with only one arm was unlawfully discriminated against based on his limb loss when his employer, removed him from his post following a customer complaint about his disability, the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC’s lawsuit charged Florida Commercial Security Services with disability discrimination when it removed Alberto Tarud-Saieh, who had who lost his right arm in a car accident, from his $8-an-hour security guard position after the president of the community association where he was stationed complained, “The company is a joke. You sent me a one-armed security guard.” The EEOC said the company removed Tarud-Saieh from his post and failed to reassign him to another post, effectively terminating his employment.

At trial, the EEOC argued based on well-settled law that reliance on discriminatory customer preferences and stereotypes about what individuals with disabilities can and cannot do violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 13-20465) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“It is unfortunate that disability discrimination in the workplace persists,” said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. “As we have shown, the EEOC will take those cases to trial, if necessary, to vindicate the rights of the victims.”

In addition to the monetary damages awarded by the jury totaling $35,922, the EEOC will seek an injunction prohibiting discrimination in the future by the defendant as well as other equitable and injunctive relief, including training and the implementation of anti-discrimination employment policies to be determined by the court.

EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg said, “The EEOC always tries to resolve cases informally whenever it can, but when resolution is not possible, we will try the case to verdict to ensure that employers will be held accountable for discriminatory practices.”

Kristen Foslid, who along with fellow Senior Trial Attorney Aarrin Golson tried the case for the EEOC’s Miami District Office, said, “I worked with Mr. Tarud-Saieh for over a year and a half and personally saw how the discrimination affected him. He was vindicated when the jury agreed with him that he could perform the job he is licensed to do. He hopes that other employers will get the message that they cannot rely on stereotypes and assumptions, and must treat people based on their actual abilities.”

According to company information, Florida Commercial Security Services is a full-service asset protection security firm based in South Florida that does security work throughout the state.

Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

EEOC Sues County Fair Farm for Sexual Harassment

By | Employment Law | No Comments

Federal Agency Charges County Fair Farm With Subjecting Female Farmworkers to Groping, Verbal Abuse, Solicitations for Sex

BOSTON — County Fair Farm, a farm and produce wholesaler located in Jefferson, Maine, violated federal law by creating and maintaining a sexually hostile work environment for female farmworkers since 2003, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced in a lawsuit today.

The EEOC charged that female farmworkers were groped, repeatedly propositioned for sex and subjected to lewd comments about their bodies by their supervisors and male co-workers while working at County Fair Farm. The lawsuit alleges that female farm workers repeatedly complained to County Fair Farm about the harassment, but the employer failed to take any action to correct the hostile work environment. In one case, the EEOC said, a female farm worker was subject to increased harassment after she complained and was ultimately forced to leave her job.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who oppose it. The EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. County Fair Farms, 14-cv- 00415-GZS) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine in Portland after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks monetary and injunctive relief.

The lawsuit, one of many similar suits filed by the agency in recent years on behalf of farmworkers, underscores the EEOC’s longstanding nationwide commitment to addressing the plight of these vulnerable workers, who are often reluctant or unable to exercise their rights under the equal employment laws.

Eliminating discriminatory policies affecting vulnerable workers who may be unaware of their rights under equal employment laws or reluctant or unable to exercise them is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). These policies can include disparate pay, job segregation, harassment and human trafficking. Preventing harassment through systemic enforcement and targeted outreach is another specific SEP priority. To learn more about the EEOC’s strategic plan and enforcement priorities, visit http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/sep.cfm.

“Farmworkers are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and harassment,” said Robert D. Rose, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office. “They are entitled to the full protection of our laws, and the EEOC will vigorously enforce those laws when farmworkers are targets of abuse.”

Sara Smolik, trial attorney in the EEOC’s Boston office, added, “County Fair Farm has a responsibility to protect its workers, not tolerate harassment of them.”

For a select list of pending and resolved EEOC cases involving national origin discrimination and/or immigrant workers from 2005 to the present, see http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/litigation/selected/national_origin_immigrant_workers.cfm. For a select list of pending and resolved cases involving farmworkers from 1999 to the present, see http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/litigation/selected/farmworkers_august_2014.cfm.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Boston Area Office’s jurisdiction includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

My Employer Won’t Pay My Workers Comp Claim

By | Employment Law | No Comments

If your employer won’t pay your workers comp claim, consider hiring an attorney who specializes in these kinds of claims.

At Cassis Law, we typically don’t handle workers comp claims because we prefer to focus on employment law. But there are times when a workers comp claim should be referred to an employment lawyer. Here’s how this often works.

An employer is required by law to have workers compensation insurance that covers any employee in the event of a workplace accident or injury.

Broken leg in castOftentimes, small companies don’t carry workers compensation insurance because of the cost. If an employee gets hurt, the employer has no way of covering it. The employee can call the state workers compensation commission, which will conduct an investigation. However, the commission can only punish the employer; the employee still has to figure out how to pay for medical treatment.

Another, more common scenario is when an employee gets hurt on the job, but the employer doesn’t want to report the incident to his workers comp insurance company. the employer may try to sidestep the situation by telling the employee to just go to the doctor and put it on his or her own health insurance. This could be illegal in some situations.

The correct procedure is to turn the employee’s claim in to the workers comp insurance company. The company will handle the claim, so the employer can’t really deny or stop it in the first place. The insurance company will then decide if they are going to pay or not, while the employer is just a witness. However, the employer can give some insight into the situation. For example, an employee could claim he got injured at work when he really got hurt at home. If the employer has knowledge of this, they can tell the insurance company. Ultimately it is up to the insurance company to make the final decision.

Employers often do not like filing workers comp claims, because they drive up insurance premiums and rates. It could also affect scheduling, because the employee needs time off to go to the doctor, or ask for light duty work, which can decrease productivity. These all add costs and extra work to the employer, which can be an administrative nightmare. The employer may get upset with the hurt employee and fire them in retaliation.

When that happens, an employment lawyer would get involved under the workers compensation retaliation statute, KRS 342.197. This states that it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee because that employee filed a workers comp claim. Since it’s illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for things like whistle blowing, reporting discrimination or sexual harassment, or making a workers comp claim, this becomes an employment law case.

Any time an employer retaliates against an employee, such as firing them for making a workers comp claim, that employee can file suit against their former employer. If this has happened to you, please contact the Cassis Law Office at (502) 736-8100.

 

Photo credit: Ted Eytan (Flickr, Creative Commons)

EEOC Sues Mel-K Management Company for Race- and Sex-Based Harassment and Retaliation

By | Employment Law | No Comments

Manager Hurled Racial and Sex-Based Epithets at Workers, Fired a Harassment Victim for Complaining, Federal Agency Charges

CLEVELAND – Mel-K Management Company violated federal law by subjecting a class of employees to a racially hostile environment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today. The EEOC also said Mel-K unlawfully retaliated against an employee for complaining about the abuse.

The EEOC said Sue Shelko, Mel-K’s general manager, frequently called black employees names such as “n—-r”, “ho’,” and “black bitch,” and deprived African-American employees of equal terms and conditions of employment, such as regularly allowing white employees more breaks than black employees and disciplining blacks for coming in late while relaxing the same rules for whites.

Further, the EEOC said, Mel-K subjected a lower-level manager, Sabrina McHenry, to both a racially and sexually hostile environment and then retaliated against her for opposing the harassment by conditioning her further employment on transferring her to an undesirable location. Finally, the EEOC said, Mel-K fired her.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division (Case No. 1:14-cv-02155) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages and lost wages and benefits.

“Managers have a statutory and moral duty to protect their employees from race- and sex-based harassĀ­ment in the workplace, and it’s disturbing that 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, some managers still don’t get it,” said Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland, and portions of New Jersey and Ohio. “Employees have a right to work in an environment free of harassment — and the right to complain if their employer fails to provide such an environment.”

Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.