Everyone knows–or should know–that sexual harassment is illegal, nor are there as many “grey areas” regarding sexual harassment as some folks seem to think there is. At its most basic level, sexual harassment consists of an employer (or one of their agents) demanding sexual favors from an employee–and threatening retaliation if the employee does not comply.
All New York employers must have strong anti-sexual harassment policies in place. No business can cite ignorance of the law as a defense if one of their employees is found liable for harassment or retaliation. The consequences of such management neglect can be quite severe.
Employees Claim They Were Fired for Reporting Unwanted Sexual Advances
On September 10, 2018, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a lawsuit against a popular New York grocery chain over allegations that it permitted and failed to prevent a pattern of sexual harassment by a store manager. The EEOC acted after receiving complaints from two former female employees who said they were fired after reporting the harassment. The EEOC's lawsuit seeks damages on behalf of the affected employees and additional injunctive relief against the corporate defendants.
Here is a brief overview of the EEOC's allegations. Please note that this reflects the EEOC's account of what happened based on its investigation. As of this writing, the case remains in the preliminary stages of litigation, and the defendants have not admitted liability.
According to the EEOC's complaint, the sexual harassment began in May 2014. The accusers worked in the meat department of a store owned by the defendants in Elmhurst, New York. The supervisor, a man, subjected the female accusers to “severe or pervasive sexual harassment” in the form of making unwanted “sexual advances, lewd comments, and offensive touching.” Among the specific examples of harassment alleged by the EEOC:
- The supervisor told Accuser #1, a woman of Mexican descent that she “would be his” and that Mexican women were “sluts.”
- On several occasions, the supervisor touched Accuser #1 on her “buttocks and breasts” and attempted to forcibly kiss her.
- The supervisor engaged in similar unwanted conduct toward Accuser #2. Additionally, he exhibited pictures of his genitals to her and demanded she touch them.
After suffering approximately two years of harassment, Accuser #1 finally complained to the store manager. The manager did not meet with her. Instead, she was fired the next day by the supervisor. Accuser #2 was also fired after she confronted the supervisor about his harassment. According to the EEOC, the store manager took no action to “investigate or remedy” the sexual harassment, and simply allowed the supervisor to terminate the two accusers in retaliation.
Contact a NYC Sexual Harassment Lawyer Today
Sexual harassment is a serious matter. Unfortunately, too many employers continue to casually tolerate months–even years–of harassment by their managers and supervisors. If you are an employee hurt by such conduct, you need to take immediate action. Contact the New York employment discrimination lawyers at the Law Offices of White, Nisar & Hilferty, LLP, if you need to speak with someone today.