Workplace Sexual Harassment Victims Find Vigilant Advocate at EEOC

September 26, 2012 - Comments Off

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has settled several sexual harassment cases in recent weeks and is pursuing several more.  As Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office made clear, “Under federal law, employees are entitled to work free from unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate sexual comments.  They are also allowed to complain about harassment without fear of retaliation.  The EEOC will be vigilant in protecting the rights of employees to work free from sexual harassment and to complain about unlawful behavior without fear of losing their jobs.”

During the month of September alone, the EEOC has announced settlements in three separate sexual harassment lawsuits.  In the first settlement, announced on September 11, 2012, the EEOC secured a $150,000 settlement on behalf of nine women at Nichols Gas & Oil Inc., a former New York fuel supply company now doing business as Townsend Oil & Propane.  On September 12, 2012, the EEOC announced that it had secured a $33,000 settlement on behalf of Shannie C. Norfleet, an employee of North Carolina-based Bojangles Restaurants.  Most recently, the EEOC announced on September 20, 2012 that it had reached a settlement on behalf of five female employees working at Miracle Hill Golf and Tennis Center in Nebraska.

In addition, the EEOC announced this month that it was filing three new sexual harassment lawsuits.  First, the EEOC announced on September 6, 2012 that it was filing a lawsuit on behalf of a receptionist employed by Southwest Virginia Community Health System alleging that the company took no action after she complained of repeated harassment by a patient.  On September 7, 2012, the EEOC announced that it was filing a similar lawsuit against the Silver Diner in Lexington, North Carolina, where a waitress alleged that the restaurant allowed her to be repeatedly harassed by a customer.  Finally, on September 10, 2012, the EEOC announced that it was suing Illinois-based Trinity Medical Center for allegedly permitting an employee to be subjected to sexually abusive comments and propositions, and then firing her when she complained.

“To see the EEOC working so hard on behalf of employees who have been sexually harassed and demeaned and retaliated against at their workplace is a great relief,” said Debra S. Katz, a partner at the D.C. law firm of Katz, Marshall & Banks, which represents victims of sexual harassment.  “It is particularly encouraging to see them working hard on behalf of victims with relatively little economic damages, who can often have trouble finding competent representation.”

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