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EEOC Settles Sexual Harassment Case Where Alleged Harasser Was Allowed To Return To Work

man sexually assaults woman with hand on leg

Having fought for the rights of sexual harassment victims for almost twenty years, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment attorneys have learned that employers customarily fail to adequately punish sexual harassers. In many cases, employers do nothing more than subject sexual harassers to a verbal warning or extract a verbal promise from sexual harassers not to engage in behavior that others may perceive as inappropriate. Rarely do employers fire employees who are the subject of a sexual harassment complaint.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), employers have an obligation to prevent and correct sexual harassment in the workplace. When an employer knows or should know of sexual harassing behavior in the workplace, the employer is required to take prompt and effective remedial action to prevent the harassment from continuing. In many cases, prompt and effective remedial action requires the employer to fire the sexual harasser. A recent sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) illustrates the risk employers take when they do not terminate employees who are the subject of a sexual harassment complaint.

In a press release issued on June 17, 2019, the EEOC announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the EEOC against SMX, LLC (SMX). On February 1, 2018, the EEOC filed the lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. SMX, LLC, Case No. 2:18-cv-2058, in the U.S. District Court for Kansas after initially attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily mandated conciliation process. The EEOC brought the sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of a former employee of SMX, Jaurdai Walker (Walker). In this article, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment lawyers explain the EEOC’s allegations against SMX and the Consent Decree.

EEOC Allegations Of Sexual Harassment

In December 2014, Walker began working for SMX. In May 2015, SMX assigned Walker to work at Proctor & Gamble’s soap assembly line in Kansas City. The EEOC alleges that from the first day of her assignment at Proctor & Gamble, Walker was subjected to unwanted sexually harassing behavior by an Account Manager who was her supervisor. The Account Manager’s alleged sexual harassment of Walker included sexual remarks, sexual propositions, exposing his genitals, and quid pro quo harassment where she was promised job benefits if she submitted to his sexual demands.

Shortly after the harassment began, according to the EEOC, Walker reported the Account Manager’s harassment to SMX management. The EEOC claims that SMX refused to promptly or effectively discipline the Account Manager and allowed him to continue supervising Walker even after she initially complained about his harassment. After Walker made another complaint to management about the harassment, SMX placed the Account Manager on leave in late May 2015. However, SMX brought the Account Manager back to work on June 12, 2015.

Sometime between June 22, 2015 and July 5, 2015, Walker arrived at the parking lot of Proctor & Gamble to go to work when the Account Manager pulled his truck in front of her car, blocking her from driving her car into the parking lot. The Account Manager jumped bout of his truck and began yelling, “why did you report me?” Walker begged the Account Manager to move his truck so she could park her car and report to work, but the Account Manager continued to berate and threaten her and would not move his truck until another car pulled up behind Walker’s car. Because of her fear for her safety and the continuing sexual harassment, Walker resigned her employment in July 2015.

Consent Decree Settling Harassment Lawsuit

In the Consent Decree settling the lawsuit, which was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Holly Teeter on June 14, 2019, SMX agreed to pay Walker $50,000 to resolve the sexual harassment case. In the Consent Decree, SMX also agreed to develop a written policy that applies to all sexual harassment investigations, including a general timeline for completion of all investigations and procedures for investigations. The EEOC further required SMX to provide training to managers and supervisors regarding the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace.

EEOC Fights For Sexual Harassment Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, including sexual harassment. In enforcing the federal anti-harassment laws, the EEOC is also authorized by federal law to bring lawsuits on behalf of victims of sexual harassment. In a press release issued by the EEOC regarding the case, the Director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office, Jack Vasquez, Jr., stated that “[e]mployers need to understand that anti-harassment policies and procedures, however good in theory, must be vigorously applied and enforced to protect all employees.” “Unambiguous, comprehensive, and frequent training,” Mr. Vasquez added, “is crucial to prevent harassment and retaliation.”

Free Consultation With Ocala Harassment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, we have almost two decades of experience representing sexual harassment victims in cases before the EEOC. If you have been subjected to a sexually hostile work environment or have questions about the anti-harassment laws enforced by the EEOC, 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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