All New York employers need to take sexual harassment seriously. When an employee complains about harassing, abusive, or even simply inappropriate behavior, the employer needs to conduct a proper investigation and take any appropriate remedial steps. What the employer should never do is retaliate against the employee who filed the sexual harassment complaint.
Nevada Company With NYC Offices Ordered to Pay $240K After Illegal Retaliatory Firings
Unfortunately, there are still too many employers who do not understand this. Recently the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces sex discrimination laws at the federal level, announced a consent decree against a Nevada-based employer that also does business here in New York City. In this particular case, the employer not only illegally retaliated against a female employee who complained about illegal sexual harassment; it also retaliated against members of her family.
According to the EEOC's complaint, which was filed in Nevada federal court last year, the accuser worked as a production manager for the defendant's printing and graphic arts business. The accuser's son and fiancée also worked for the company. All three reported to the company's general manager.
The EEOC's investigation revealed that the general manager “repeatedly pressured” the accuser to “step down from her position as a Production Manager” so that a less-qualified male–a friend of the GM–could take the position. The general manager also repeatedly told the accuser she had “sex appeal” and “was wasting that sex appeal on the production floor” and should work in a customer relations position instead.
The EEOC further detailed the general manager's long history of making sexist remarks about the accuser. For example, he would tell employees not to follow the accuser's directions because she was a “girl on her period with hormones going crazy.” This led other employees to engage in “abusive and hostile sexist behavior” themselves, including telling the accuser they did not have to do what she said because “you're just a girl.”
The accuser attempted to resolve the sexual harassment internally by speaking with the defendant's human resources department. The EEOC said HR failed to take any corrective action. Instead, about two weeks after the accuser filed her final HR complaint, the defendant terminated her employment “without providing a reason.” The defendant also fired the accuser's son and fiancée without explanation.
The EEOC determined that all of these actions violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment. Under a settlement reached with the defendants, the company will pay approximately $240,000 in monetary relief to the accuser and the other victims. The EEOC will also appoint someone to “monitor the Defendant's compliance with Title VII, which will include reviewing the company's anti-discrimination policies and procedures, as well as ensuring all employees are properly trained in what actions and behaviors constitute sexual harassment.
Speak With a New York Sexual Harassment Lawyer Today
The EEOC plays an important role in enforcing the nation's workplace discrimination laws, but you do not need to rely exclusively on government intervention to obtain justice. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment at work and need advice on what to do next from a qualified New York employment law attorney, contact the Law Offices of White, Nisar & Hilferty, LLP, today.