Can Sexual Harassment Victims Be Transferred When The Transfer Makes Them Worse Off?
Through their extensive experience representing sexual harassment victims, our Ocala, Florida sexual harassment attorneys have learned that one action an employer might take in response to a sexual harassment victim’s complaint of sexual harassment is to transfer the sexual harassment victim. As the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals explained in Hostetler v. Quality Dining, Inc., 218 F.3d 798 (7th Cir. 2000), “a remedial measure that makes the victim worse off is ineffective per se.” “A transfer that reduces the victim’s wages or other remuneration, increases the disamenities of work, or impairs the prospects for promotion,” the Hostetler court explained, “makes the victim worse off.” In this article, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment lawyers explain how a recent sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) demonstrates that when a sexual harassment victim is subjected to an economically disadvantageous transfer in response to her sexual harassment complaint, the transfer is an inappropriate remedial measure because it leaves the sexual harassment victim worse off than she was before the sexual harassment occurred.
EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
On April 8, 2021, the EEOC issued a press release announcing that it has entered into a Consent Decree settling a sexual harassment lawsuit against Dolgencorp, LLC, operating as Dollar General Stores, Inc. (Dollar General). On March 31, 2018, the EEOC filed the sexual harassment lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Dolgencorp, LLC, Case No. 1:18-cv-02956, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. In the Consent Decree, which was executed by U.S. District Court Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher on April 6, 2021, Dollar General agreed to pay $50,000 to resolve the sexual harassment lawsuit.
Legal Rights Of Sex Harassment Victims
The EEOC brought the sexual harassment lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of a former employee of Dollar General, Amber Olsen (Olsen). Title VII makes sexually harassing behavior that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment an unlawful discriminatory employment practice. Once an employer knows or should know that an employee is being sexually harassed, the employer is obligated by Title VII to take prompt and effective remedial action to stop the harassment and prevent the harassment from recurring. As the decision in Hostetler establishes, any corrective action that makes a sexual harassment victim worse off is ineffective per se as a means of remediating the harassment.
The EEOC claims that Dollar General violated Title VII by requiring Olsen to work in a sexually hostile work environment and inappropriately transferring Olsen as a means of remediating the harassment.
Worker Claims Sexual Harassment At Work
In May 2016, Dollar General hired Olsen to work as the Assistant Store Manager at its store in Rock Hall, Maryland. Within a week of her hire, according to the EEOC, the Store Manager began sexually harassing Olsen. Initially, the Store Manager’s sexually harassing behavior towards Olsen consisted of sexual comments and remarks about her body. Shortly after the sexual harassment began, the Store Manager escalated his harassment of Olsen to physical touching, including grabbing her knee and rubbing her shoulders. In late June 2016, the Store Manager then solicited the performance of oral sex from Olsen.
Sexual Harassment Complaint Lodged
In late June 2016, Olsen reported the Store Manager’s unwanted sexual behavior to a District Manager and the Human Resources Department. On July 3, 2016, Dollar General transferred Olsen to another Dollar General store. The transfer required earlier, less convenient hours, and added an hour to Olsen’s daily commute. On July 8, 2016, Olsen took a medical leave of absence because of the sexual harassment she had endured. After she returned to work, Olsen repeatedly sought information regarding her sexual harassment complaint but received no definitive response. Olsen then complained about the burdens the transfer had imposed on her in terms of commute time and scheduling difficulties and asked when she could be transferred back to the store in Rock Hall. On July 31, 2016, Olsen resigned from her employment because of the disadvantageous transfer and concern over future harassment from the Store Manager.
Attorneys For Sexual Harassment Victims
The EEOC, which is an administrative agency of the federal government, is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the federal employment laws making discrimination, harassment, and retaliation unlawful employment practices. In seeking to vindicate the rights of sexual harassment victims, the EEOC files lawsuits in federal court on behalf of sexual harassment victims.
In a press release issued by the EEOC on April 8, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, Debra Lawrence, explained that “much harassment goes unreported and often occurs without witnesses.” “Dollar General’s transferring [Olsen] away from the harasser to a more difficult and distant store,” Ms. Lawrence added, “is the type of response which does not facilitate workers’ willingness to come forward and report harassment.”
Sexual Harassment Attorneys In Ocala, FL
Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment lawyers have represented Florida employees who have been required to work in a sexually hostile work environment for more than twenty years. If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or have questions about an employer’s obligation to protect you from sexual harassment at work, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida sexual harassment attorneys. Our employment and labor law attorneys take sexual harassment cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.