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Same-Sex Sexual Harassment Victims Worked In Hostile Environment EEOC Lawsuit Charges

Sexual harassment and painful human condition, pictured as a wooden human figure pushing heavy weight to show how hard it can be to deal with Sexual harassment in human life, 3d illustration

For more than two decades, our Ocala, Florida hostile work environment attorneys have fought for the rights of sexual harassment victims. Having represented sexual harassment victims for more than twenty years, our Marion County, Florida hostile work environment lawyers know that a common employment law myth is that employees are not protected from same-sex sexual harassment. Because of this enduring employment law myth, employers frequently fail to protect their employees from same-sex sexual harassment. In this article, our Ocala, Florida hostile work environment lawyers explain how a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) illustrates that employees are protected from same-sex sexual harassment and that employers are obligated to protect their employees from same-sex sexual harassment.

Same-Sex Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

On June 25, 2021, the EEOC issued a press release announcing that it has entered into a Consent Decree resolving a same-sex sexual harassment lawsuit against Engie Services, Inc. (Engie). On November 9, 2020, the EEOC filed the same-sex sexual harassment lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Engie Services, Inc.,Case No. 2:20-cv-011767, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. In the Consent Decree, which was endorsed by the U.S. District Court Judge on June 24, 2021, Engie agreed to pay $125,000 to resolve the same-sex sexual harassment lawsuit.

Same-Sex Sexual Harassment Is Unlawful

The EEOC brought the same-sex sexual harassment lawsuit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of two former employees of Engie, Rodney Crosby (Crosby) and Arterious Mays (Mays). Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex. Under long standing law, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination forbidden by Title VII. Title VII is violated when sexual harassment is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile or abusive working environment.

Title VII’s protection against sexual harassment is not limited to circumstances where an employee is harassed by a member of the opposite sex. Instead, Title VII also prohibits same-sex sexual harassment. Same-sex sexual harassment occurs when both the harasser and the victim are members of the same sex. Once an employer knows or should know of same-sex sexual harassment in the workplace, the employer is obligated by Title VII to take prompt and effective remedial action to prevent the harassment from continuing. If an employer knows or should know of the same-sex sexual harassment, and fails to take remedial action or takes ineffective remedial action to stop the harassment, the employer can be held liable under Title VII for creating or maintaining a sexually hostile work environment.

The EEOC claims that Engie violated Title VII by allowing a male employee to sexually harass Crosby and Mays. The EEOC further claims that Engie is liable under Title VII for the sexual hostile work environment because it failed to take prompt and effective remedial action to stop the harassment.

Workers Claim Same-Sex Sexual Harassment

Crosby and Mays worked at Engie’s plant in Birmingham, Alabama. The EEOC claims that during their employment with Engie’s, Crosby and Mays were subjected to unwanted same-sex sexual harassment by a male supervisor. On two occasions, the EEOC alleges, the male supervisor groped Crosby’s buttocks. After the second incident of unwanted sexual touching occurred, Crosby lodged a complaint with Engie’s management and then filed a police report. The EEOC further alleges that the male supervisor targeted Mays for unwelcome sexual harassment. One one occasion, according to the EEOC, the male supervisor came up behind Mays while he was working and pushed his groin into Mays’ buttocks. On another occasion, the EEOC asserts, Mays was holding a broken stick between his legs when the male supervisor walked up to Mays, grabbed the stick, and then smiled. The EEOC contends that Engie was aware of the unwanted same-sex sexual harassment but failed to take appropriate correction action to prevent the harassment from recurring. In failing to prevent the unwanted same-sex sexual harassment from continuing, the EEOC maintains that Engie created or maintained a sexually hostile work environment in violation of Title VII.

Helping Hostile Work Environment Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the federal government responsible for interpreting and enforcing the federal employment laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. In granting the EEOC the authority to enforce the federal employment laws, Congress also authorized the EEOC to bring lawsuits on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including employees who have been required to work in a sexually hostile work environment. In a press release issued by the EEOC on June 25, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office, Marsha Rucker, stated that the “EEOC takes a company’s failure to take appropriate action to stop sexual or racial harassment seriously and will prosecute cases where this kind of abuse occurs.”

Ocala, FL Hostile Work Environment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida hostile work environment harassment attorneys have dedicated their practice to fighting for the rights of sexual harassment victims. If you have been required to work in a sexually hostile work environment or have questions about an employer’s obligation to protect you from sexual harassment in the workplace, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida hostile work environment lawyers. Our employee rights law firm takes 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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