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Employment Law Blog
James Tarquin, P.A
As part of our commitment to assist and educate employees in fighting back against the abusive employment practices of employers, we offer a broad range of information about employment law issues in our employment blog.

Does Federal Law Protect Job Applicants From Sexual Harassment?

Asian woman answering question interview during job application.

Having represented the victims of employment discrimination for almost twenty years, our Marion County, Florida employment law attorneys have learned that job applicants are often a victim of unlawful employment discrimination.  Under the federal anti-discrimination laws, employers are prohibited from discriminating against job applicants.  Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), it is unlawful for employers to fail to hire a job applicant because of his or her race, color, national origin, sex, or religion.  Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII.  A sexual harassment case recently settled by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) demonstrates that Title VII’s protection against sexual harassment extends to job applicants.

Job Applicants Sexually Harassed

In a press release issued on December 11, 2018, the EEOC announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the EEOC against Draper Development, LLC (Draper).  In the Consent Decree, Draper agreed to pay $80,000 to settle the sexual harassment lawsuit.  The EEOC filed the lawsuit, EEOC v. Draper Development, LLC, Case No. 1:15-cv-877, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York after initially attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily mandated conciliation process.  The EEOC brought the sexual harassment lawsuit pursuant to Title VII on behalf of two individuals who applied for employment with Draper, Alicia Rizzicone (Rizzicone) and Joelle Jock (Jock). 

EEOC’s Allegations Of Sexual Harassment

Draper is the owner of over a dozen Subway franchises in upper New York.  In October 2013, Rizzicone and Jock both applied to work as a sandwich maker at a Draper Subway franchise.  Rizzicone and Jock were each 17 years old when the applied.  After submitting their applications, both women were sexually harassed by the General Manager of the Subway franchise.   The General Manager was the individual making the hiring decisions.

The General Manager used personal information from Rizzicone’s application to send her a series of sexually suggestive and sexually explicit text messages.  The General Manager began by asking Rizzicone whether she needed the job and then asking whether she would sleep with a manager to get the job.  The General Manager then told Rizzicone that “the job is yours” if she had sex with him.  Rizzicone, along with her boyfriend, went to the Subway and confronted the General Manager.  The General Manager denied having sent Rizzicone the texts.  During the course of the litigation, the General Manager admitted having sent the texts to Rizzicone.  After confronting the General Manager, Rizzicone filed a police report and detailed her experience in a television interview with a local news station that day. Rizzicone was not hired by Draper to work at any of its Subway locations.

The same day she turned in her application, the General Manager interviewed Jock.  During the interview, the General Manager remarked that it “would be nice to have a girl around.”  At the end of the interview, the General Manager told Jock that she had the job and that someone would be in touch with her regarding her schedule.  The next day, Jock received a text message with an explicit sexual proposition from the General Manager.  The following day, Jock went to confront the General Manager at the job, but he was not there.  She spoke with a manager at the restaurant and asked to speak with the owner.  The manager provided Jock with a phone number and told her it was the owner’s number.  Jock called the number and told the man who answered that she had been texted by the General Manager who offered her a job in exchange for sex.  The man on the phone responded by asking how Jock got his cell phone number.  He then hung up on her and never contacted Jock again.  Jock was not hired by Draper to work at any of its Subway locations. 

EEOC Enforces Anti-Harassment Laws

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.  In enforcing the federal civil rights laws, the EEOC is also authorized by federal law to bring lawsuits on behalf of victims of employment discrimination, including sexual harassment victims.  In a press release issued by the EEOC regarding the case, the EEOC lead trial attorney, Charles F. Coleman, stated that “[n]o teenager who is just beginning to navigate the working world should ever have to deal with unwelcome sexual advances as part of the hiring process.”  An EEOC regional attorney, Jeffrey Burstein, added that “conditioning hiring in exchange for sexual favors, known as quid pro quo sexual harassment, is exactly the type of behavior that has made the deserved momentum around #MeToo continue to grow stronger.”

Free Consultation With Ocala Harassment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, we have been fighting for the rights of sexual harassment victims for nearly twenty years.  If you have been the victim of sexual harassment or have questions about your protection against sexual harassment as a job applicant, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Marion County, 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.

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