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Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Claiming Victim Had No Choice But To Quit Resolved By EEOC

Sexual harassment at work, back view

Having represented sexual harassment victims for more than twenty years, our Lake County, Florida sexual harassment lawyers know that sexual harassment victims are often compelled to involuntary resign their employment in order to escape a sexually hostile work environment. In this article, our Leesburg, Florida sexual harassment attorneys explain how a recent employment discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) demonstrates that sexual harassment victims who have no choice but to quit because of unlawful sexual harassment have a remedy under the federal anti-discrimination laws.

On February 8, 2021, the EEOC issued a press release announcing that it has entered into a Consent Decree to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against James Cars of Hamburg, LLC, d/b/a James Mitsubishi Hamburg (James Mitsubishi). On June 24, 2020, the EEOC filed the sexual harassment lawsuit, U.S. E.E.O.C v. James Cars of Hamburg, LLC, d/b/a James Mitsubishi Hamburg, Case No. 1:20-cv-00780, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York.  Before moving forward with enforcing the federal anti-discrimination laws through litigation, the EEOC initially attempted to settle the case through conciliation efforts.  Conciliation efforts having failed, the EEOC exercised its statutory right under federal law to remedy the alleged discriminatory employment practices through litigation.  In the Consent Decree, which was approved by U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo on February 8, 2021, James Mitsubishi agreed to pay $110,000 to resolve the sexual harassment lawsuit. 

Sexual Harassment Victims’ Rights

The EEOC brought the sexual harassment lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of a former employee of James Mitsubishi, Katelyn Sealy (Sealy). Under Title VII, discrimination against employees on the basis of gender is an unlawful discriminatory employment practice. Under well-established law, sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination prohibited by Title VII. Sexual harassment which is sufficiently severe or pervasive to discriminatorily alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile or abusive work environment violates Title VII’s prohibition against gender discrimination. When a sexual harassment victim has no choice but to resign in order to escape a sexually hostile work environment, the employee has been constructively discharged in violation of Title VII. In other words, when a sexual harassment is compelled to quit because of an intolerable sexually hostile working environment, the employer has, in effect, terminated the sexual harassment victim.

The EEOC claims that James Mitsubishi violated Title VII by requiring Sealy and another female employee to work in a sexually hostile work environment. The EEOC further claims that James Mitsubishi violated Title VII by constructively discharging Sealy by creating and maintaining a sexually hostile work environment.

Workers Claim Sexually Hostile Work Environment

James Mitsubishi is an automotive dealership in Hamburg, New York. In February 2018, Sealy began working for James Mitsubishi as a billing specialist. Sealy’s employment continued until her resignation in June 2018. Another female employee, who is not identified by the EEOC in its lawsuit, began working for James Mitsubishi in March 2018 as a salesperson (the Salesperson). The Salesperson worked for the dealership until July 2018.

Throughout their employment, according to the EEOC, Sealy and the Salesperson were subjected to a sustained campaign of sexually harassing behavior by the dealership’s General Manager. The General Manager’s alleged sexual behavior towards Sealy and the Salesperson included comments about their bodies, sexual propositions, remarks about his sex life, asking them to come to his hotel room, and asking employees to provide details about their sexual activities. The EEOC further alleges that Sealy and the Salesperson were sexually harassed by other male employees, including asking for details about their sexual activities, remarks about their bodies, and simulating the performance of sexual acts.

Sexual Harassment Victim Forced To Quit

The EEOC alleges that James Mitsubishi “failed to do anything to address or end the harassment” of Sealy and the Salesperson. Despite the dealership’s knowledge of the sexually hostile work environment, according to the EEOC, the severe and pervasive sexual harassment “continued unabated.” Unable to stop or avoid the harassment, Sealy “struggled to focus on her work tasks and dreaded going to work.” The EEOC maintains that the relentless sexually harassing behavior became so intolerable that Sealy was forced to involuntarily resign her employment in June 2018 in order to escape the hostile work environment. The EEOC contends that James Mitsubishi constructively discharged Sealy by creating and maintaining an intolerable work environment and by failing to take action to address and end the sexually harassing behavior against Sealy.

Attorneys For Sexual Harassment Victims

The EEOC, which is an administrative agency of the federal government, is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII’s prohibition against gender discrimination. As part of its statutory mission to take action against employers who fail to protect their employees from sexual harassment in the workplace, the EEOC files lawsuits on behalf of sexual harassment victims.

In a press release issued by the EEOC on February 8, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office, Jeffrey Burstein, observed that “sexual harassment in the workplace unfortunately remains a widespread problem.” “The EEOC will always seek to eradicate sexual harassment,” Mr. Burstein added, “where it finds it.” In commenting on the case, the Director of the EEOC’s New York District Office, Judy Keenan, stated that the “EEOC is committed to take action against businesses that fail to protect employees from unlawful harassment.”

Leesburg, FL Sexual Harassment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Lake County, Florida sexual harassment attorneys have fought for the rights of Florida employees who have been required to work in a sexually hostile work environment for more than two decades. If your employer has created a sexually hostile work environment or you have a questions about your rights under the federal employment laws as a sexual harassment victim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Leesburg, Florida sexual harassment lawyers. 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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