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Employer Tolerated Sexual Harassment Of Employees By Customers EEOC Harassment Lawsuit Charges

Woman writes a statement about sexual harassment vector

Having litigated sexual harassment cases in Florida courts throughout the past twenty years, our Ocala, Florida sexual harassment attorneys know that employees often experience unwanted sexually harassing behavior from customers. Through their decades of experience representing sexual harassment victims, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment lawyers have learned that employers frequently do not protect employees from customer sexual harassment. Too often, sexual harassment victims are required to either tolerate the sexual conduct or attempt to stop the sexual conduct on their own. In this article, our Ocala, Florida sexual harassment attorneys explain how a recent sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) demonstrates that employers are obligated to protect employees against sexual harassment from customers.

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

On April 27, 2021, the EEOC issued a press release announcing that it has entered into a Consent Decree settling a sexual harassment lawsuit against Imperial Pacific International, LLC, d/b/a Best Sunshine Casino (Imperial Pacific). On September 24, 2019, the EEOC filed the sexual harassment lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Imperial Pacific, LLC, d/b/a Best Sunshine Casino, Case No. 1:19-cv-00017, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands. In the Consent Decree, which was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Ramona V. Manglona on April 27, 2021, Imperial Pacific agreed to pay $105,000 to resolve the sexual harassment lawsuit.

Sexual Harassment Victims’ Rights

The EEOC brought the sexual harassment lawsuit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of former female employees of Imperial Pacific. Title VII makes sexual harassment in the workplace an unlawful discriminatory employment practice. In order to violate Title VII, sexually harassing behavior must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile working environment. Employees are protected against sexual harassment from co-workers, supervisors, managers, clients, and customers.

As observed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Curry v. District of Columbia, 195 F.3d 654 (D.C. Cir. 1999), “Title VII does not permit employers to stand idly by once they learn that sexual harassment has occurred.” Instead, as explained by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Fuller v. City of Oakland, Cal., 47 F.3d 1522 (9th Cir. 1995), “[o]nce an employer knows or should know of harassment, a remedial obligation kicks in.” “That obligation,” the Fuller  court explained, “will not be discharged until action—prompt, effective action—has been taken.” “If an employer is aware of the [ ] harassment and takes no remedial action or inadequate steps are taken to prevent recurrence of the harassment,” as determined by the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeals in Speedway Superamerica, LLC v. Dupont, 933 So.2d 75 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006), “then the employer can be held liable” under Title VII for creating or maintaining a sexually hostile work environment.”

EEOC Claims Sexual Hostile Environment

Imperial Pacific owns and operates the Best Sunshine Casino on Saipan. The EEOC claims that Imperial Pacific violated Title VII by failing to protect female employees from unwanted sexually harassing behavior from male customers at the Best Sunshine Casino. The EEOC alleges that the male customers were known to Imperial Pacific, and were specifically targeted to generate business for the Best Sunshine Casino and for special attention by the VIP Service Hosts who worked at the Best Sunshine Casino. The EEOC further claims that because the continuous sexually harassing behavior became intolerable, the sexual harassment victims were compelled to involuntarily quit in order to escape the sexually hostile work environment.

One female employee, who the EEOC refers to as the “Charging Party,” worked as a VIP Service Host at the Best Sunshine Casino from December 2015 until August 2016. Throughout her employment, according to the EEOC, the Charging Party was subjected to “regular and repeated sexual harassment” from male customers, including “touching and comments of a sexual nature” and “grabbing of her arm by a male customer with the intention of taking her back to his hotel room for sex.” The EEOC alleges that when the Charging Party complained to management about the unwanted sexual conduct, Imperial Pacific “failed to take corrective action and continued to expose the Charging Party to further sexual harassment by male [customers].” The EEOC maintains that the Charging Party was forced to quit because the sexual harassment by male customers created intolerable working environment.

Sexual Harassment From Customers Alleged

The EEOC further alleges that other female employees, who the EEOC refers to as the “Claimants,” who worked as VIP Service Hosts at the Best Sunshine Casino were also subjected to egregious sexual harassment from male customers. The EEOC contends that the Claimants were required to swim in bikinis with male customers while being subjected to repeated touching and comments of a sexual nature, asked to demonstrate French kissing to male customers, and subjected to repeated touching and sexual comments by male customers. The Claimants, according to the EEOC, were also ordered to escort drunken male customers to their villas with specific instructions to make the drunken male customers “happy.” The EEOC maintains that although the Claimants complained about the unwanted sexual conduct and sexual demands, their complaints were ignored and no effective remedial action was taken to stop the rampant sexual harassment from male customers. The EEOC asserts that the Claimants were involuntarily forced to quit in order to escape the sexually hostile work environment.

Attorneys For Sexual Harassment Victims

The EEOC, which is an administrative agency of the federal government, is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the federal labor laws making discrimination, harassment, and retaliation unlawful employment practices. In order to preserve and enforce employee rights, the EEOC brings lawsuits against employers who have subjected their employees to unlawful discriminatory employment practices, including employers who have required their employees to work in a sexually hostile work environment.

In a press release issued by the EEOC on April 27, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, Anna Park, explained that “federal anti-harassment and retaliation protections extend to all workers in the Northern Mariana Islands.” In commenting on the case, the Director of the EEOC’s Honolulu Field Office, Raymond Griffin, Jr., observed that “unfortunately, sexual harassment and retaliation remain pervasive in today’s workplace.”

Ocala, FL Sexual Harassment Attorneys

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment lawyers have dedicated their practice to representing sexual harassment victims. If you have endured sexual harassment in the workplace or have questions about your protection against sexual harassment from a customer, 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.

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