EEOC Lawsuit Uses Federal Law To Protect Employees Claiming Sexual Harassment
On March 8, 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) entered into a Consent Decree with FYC International, Inc. (FYC) which settled an employment discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC on behalf of employees of FYC in the U.S. District Court, District Court of Connecticut. In the case of EEOC v. FYC International, Inc., the EEOC claimed that three female employees were subjected to hostile work environment sexual harassment by a warehouse manager employed by FYC in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In the lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that the warehouse manager continuously subjected the three female employees to unwanted sexually harassing behavior. The warehouse manager’s purported sexual harassment included sexual comments, sexual propositions, remarks about their breasts, remarks they looked good in tight clothing, and grabbing them by the waist and rubbing their backs. The EEOC also asserted that the warehouse manager engaged in quid pro quo sexual harassment by offering the female employees money in exchange for sex. The EEOC further alleged that the warehouse manager’s sexual harassment of the three female employees encouraged other male employees to sexually harass other female employees by maintaining pornographic pictures at their workstations and asking other female employees explicit questions about their sex lives. The EEOC claimed that FYC was liable for the hostile work environment sexual harassment because the warehouse manager’s harassment was so pervasive that FYC should have known about the harassment and taken prompt remedial action to end the harassment.
In the Consent Decree settling the lawsuit, which was signed by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on March 8, 2016, FYC agreed to pay the three female employees $80,000 to resolve their case. American Casting also agreed to provide training to all of its managers and supervisors regarding sexual harassment and to provide employees with a complaint procedure for reporting incidents of sexual harassment. The EEOC also required FYC to install a video monitoring system having the capability of storing up to six months of footage.
The FYC case illuminates the broad range of impermissible sexual behavior employees may encounter in the workplace, including sexual comments, sexual propositions, pornography, touching, and quid pro quo harassment. The EEOC’s litigation strategy also illustrates that although employer liability for sexual harassment generally requires actual notice of the harassment through an employee complaint, an employer can still be held liable for sexual harassment even when an employee complaint is not made. As the EEOC recognized, an employer, such as FYC, has constructive notice of sexual harassment when the harassment was so pervasive that it should have known about the harassment and taken prompt remedial action to stop the harassment. As the warehouse manager purportedly subjected three employees to a sustained campaign of egregious sexually harassing behavior, at trial the EEOC almost certainly would have been able to establish that FYC was liable for the hostile work environment sexual harassment because it should have known of the harassment and failed to end the harassment despite its constructive knowledge.
We have extensive experience representing employees who have been the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, or you have been retaliated against for complaining about sexual harassment at work, please contact our office for a free consultation. Located in Ocala, Florida, we represent employees in employment law matters throughout Central Florida, including Alachua County, Lake County, Levy County, Marion County, Orange County, Pinellas County, Sumter County, and Volusia County.