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Sexual Harassment Victims Sent Pornographic Texts By Supervisor EEOC Lawsuit Charges

Sexual harassment complaint and gavel on a desk.

On May 20, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a press release announcing that it has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Menard, Inc. (Menard). On May 19, 2020, the EEOC filed the lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Menard, Inc.,Case No. 2:20-cv-11240, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after initially attempting to settle the case without the necessity of litigation through its lawfully required conciliation process. Unable to reach an acceptable conciliation agreement with Menard, the EEOC moved forward with attempting to address the alleged unlawful employment practices through litigation.

The EEOC has commenced the sexual harassment lawsuit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of two employees of Menard, Renee Knowles (Knowles) and Stacy Robinson (Robinson). Under Title VII, employees are protected from sexual advances, verbal conduct of a sexual nature, and physical conduct of a sexual nature which is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive work environment. The EEOC claims that Menard violated Title VII by requiring Knowles and Robinson to work in a sexually hostile work environment. In this article, our Columbia County, Florida sexual harassment lawyers explain the EEOC’s allegations against Menard.

EEOC Alleges Unlawful Workplace Sexual Behavior

Menard operates over 300 home improvement stores in 14 states. Knowles and Robinson worked at Menard’s store in Wixom, Michigan. From July 2016 through September 2018, according to the EEOC, Knowles and Robinson were sexually harassed by a supervisor who worked in the hardware department. The EEOC alleges that the supervisor subjected Knowles to unwanted sexual touching, including regularly pinching her buttocks and trying to pinch her buttocks. The EEOC also claims that the supervisor regularly sent Knowles explicitly sexual or pornographic text and instant messages, some of which included photographs or video files of graphic sexual images. The EEOC further alleges that the supervisor regularly touched and sent explicit sexual messages to other female employees, including Robinson.

Harassment Continues Despite Victim’s Complaint

In April or May 2017, according to the EEOC, a manager in the hardware department received a complaint from another female employee about the supervisor sending sexual messages to her. The EEOC contends that the manager “chose not to investigate the complaint.” Instead, the EEOC maintains, the manager told the supervisor “not to dip his pen in company ink.” In April 2018, Knowles complained to the manager about sexually explicit messages from the supervisor. However, the manager “chose not to investigate the complaint.”

Despite two complaint to management about the supervisor’s unwanted sexual behavior in the workplace, the supervisor was allowed to continue touching and sending sexual material to Knowles and other female employees, including Robinson. Not until a third sexual harassment complaint was made against the supervisor in September 2018, according to the EEOC, did Menard investigate the complaints and take corrective action by issuing the supervisor a warning. In failing to take prompt and effective remedial action to prevent the supervisor’s harassment from continuing, the EEOC maintains that Menard violated Title VII by allowing Knowles and Robinson to be subjected to hostile work environment sexual harassment.

Helping Sexual Harassment Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States charged with interpreting and enforcing federal labor laws prohibiting hostile work environment sexual harassment. In enforcing the federal labor laws, the EEOC is also authorized by federal law to bring lawsuits on behalf of employees who have been required to work in a sexually hostile work environment. In a press release issued by the EEOC on May 20, 2020 regarding the case, a trial attorney for the EEOC’s Detroit Field Office, Miles Uhlar, explained that “companies have a responsibility under the law to take sexual harassment complaints seriously and investigate them promptly.” “While Menard eventually addressed the harassment,” Mr. Uhlar added, “management’s failure to act on several complaints allowed the harassment to continue for over a year.”

Consult With Lake City, FL Harassment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Columbia County, Florida sexual harassment attorneys are dedicated to representing sexual harassment victims. If you have worked in a sexual hostile work environment or have questions about your rights as a sexual harassment victim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Lake City, 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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