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Sexual Harassment Victim Punished For Reporting Hostile Work Environment EEOC Lawsuit Charges

Sexual harassment complaint and gavel on a desk.

On October 23, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a press release announcing that it has filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Medicone Medical Response of Tennessee, Inc. and Medicone Medical Response of Middle TN, Inc. (collectively Medicone). On October 22, 2020, the EEOC filed the lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Medicone Medical Response of Tennessee, Inc. v. Medicone Medical Response of Middle TN, Inc., Case No. 3:20-cv-00912, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Before filing the lawsuit, the EEOC endeavored to reach a settlement with Medicone through its voluntary conciliation process. Unable to reach an acceptable resolution through its conciliation efforts, the EEOC moved forward with attempting to remedy the alleged unlawful employment practices through litigation.

The EEOC has filed the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of a former employee of Medicone, Jenna Phillips (Phillips). Under Title VII, employers are forbidden from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII. Under Title VII, employers are also forbidden from retaliating against employees who complain about perceived sexual harassment in the workplace. The EEOC claims that Medicone subjected Phillips to unwelcome sexual harassment, and retaliated against Phillips when she complained about the sexual harassment. In this article, our Ocala, Florida lawyers for sexual harassment victims explain the EEOC’s allegations against Medicone.

Employee Claims Sexual Harassment

In December 2017, Phillips began working as a paramedic at Medicone. Shortly after her employment began, according to the EEOC, Medicone’s Operations Manager, who was Phillips’ immediate supervisor, began sexually harassing Phillips. The Operations Manager’s alleged hostile work environment sexual harassment of Phillips included sexually charged text messages, requests for sexual favors, sexual remarks, and inappropriate photos via Snapchat. The inappropriate photos, the EEOC claims, included pictures of the Operations Manager’s penis. Ultimately, the Operations Manager’s sexual harassment of Phillips escalated to unwanted sexual touching, including kissing her neck, grinding against her buttocks, and brushing up against her breasts and buttocks.

In February 2018, Phillips complained to Medicone’s Regional Program Director about the unwanted sexually harassing behavior. The Regional Program Director, according to the EEOC, failed to conduct a thorough investigation into Phillips’ allegations. Instead of interviewing all employees who may have seen or heard the alleged sexual behavior, the Regional Program Director only interviewed employees who agreed to participate in the investigation.

Following the investigation, Medicone did not discipline the Operations Manager in any way. As a result, the EEOC contends that Operations Manager continued to harass female employees in the workplace despite Phillips’ sexual harassment complaint. Two months after she complained about sexual harassment, Medicone terminated Phillips’ employment. The alleged conduct for which Medicone fired Phillips occurred prior to her sexual harassment complaint and did not result in any reprimands or discipline until after she lodged a sexual harassment complaint.

Attorneys For Sexual Harassment Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal employment laws making discrimination, harassment, and retaliation unlawful employment practices. As part of its mandate to enforce the federal employment laws, the EEOC is authorized to bring lawsuits on behalf of sexual harassment and retaliation victims. In a press release issued by the EEOC on October 23, 2020 regarding the case, the Director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, Delner Franklin-Thomas, explained that “employers who tolerate persistent sexual harassment and punish victims for exercising their right to oppose such behavior violate federal law.”

Ocala, FL Sexual Harassment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment attorneys are dedicated to vindicating the rights of employees who have been required to work in a sexually hostile work environment. If you have experienced sexual harassment at work or have questions about your protection against sexual harassment under the federal employment laws, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, 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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