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Worker Required To Work In Sexually Hostile Environment EEOC Lawsuit Charges

Sexual harassment concept, businessman making sexual threatening by touching and hugging women in office

In a press release issued on September 28, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Maryland Health Management, LLC, d/b/a Nature’s Medicines and AMMA Investment Group, LLC (collectively, Natures Medicines). On September 24, 2020, the EEOC filed the case, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Maryland Health Management, LLC, d/b/a Nature’s Medicines and AMMA Investment Group, LLC, Case No. 1:20-cv-02786, in the U.S. District Court for District of Maryland. Before commencing the lawsuit, the EEOC initially tried to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily mandated conciliation process. Unable to settle the case through its use of informal methods of conciliation, the EEOC invoked its statutory right to address the alleged unlawful employment practices through litigation. In this article, our Inverness, Florida attorneys for sexual harassment victims explain the EEOC’s allegations against Nature’s Medicines.

Legal Protection For Sexual Harassment Victims

The EEOC has filed the sexual harassment lawsuit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of two former employees of Nature’s Medicines, Cassandra Barrett (Barrett) and Rosilyn McWilliams (McWilliams). Title VII, which is the lynchpin of Congressional efforts to eliminate discriminatory employment practices from the American workplace, forbids discrimination against employees on the basis of gender. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination prohibited by Title VII. Sexual harassment which is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile working environment is an unlawful employment practice under Title VII. In order to protect the rights of sexual harassment victims, Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about perceived sexual harassment in the workplace.

The EEOC claims that Nature’s Medicines violated Title VII by allowing Barrett and McWilliams to be subjected to continuous sexual harassment and a sexually hostile work environment by their manager, even after a number of employees had complained about his behavior.

EEOC Alleges Sexually Hostile Environment

Nature’s Medicines is a medical marijuana retailer. Barrett and McWilliams were both employed as patient service providers at Nature’s Medicines’ store in Ellicott City, Maryland. As part of their job duties, Barrett and McWilliams would stock display cases, interact with customers by recommending products and answering questions, and ring up sales. In this position, Barrett and McWilliams were supervised by the store’s General Manager.

From August 2018 until June 2019, according to the EEOC, Barrett was subjected to unwanted sexually harassing behavior by the General Manager. The General Manager’s alleged sexual harassment of Barrett including sharing his fantasies of picturing customers naked and wanting to have sex with other female employees, making remarks about her buttocks, groping her leg, telling her that other male employees wanted to sleep with her, and making sexually charged remarks about female customers and third-party vendors. The EEOC also claims that the General Manager would make Barrett and other employees research female job applicants through their social media accounts so that he could assess their attractiveness before inviting them in for a job interview. The General Manager stated that he would not hire female applicants if they were “not attractive” or “not his type.”

From June 2018 until October 2018, according to the EEOC, McWilliams was also subjected to unwanted sexually harassing behavior by the General Manager. The General Manager’s alleged sexual harassment of McWilliams included using sexually explicit language in her presence, sexualizing the names of the strains of cannabis the store sold, using epithets when referring to female employees, and remarking about how female employees wanted to “hook up” with him.

No Action Taken To Stop Sexual Harassment

In October 2018, McWilliams lodged complaints with Nature’s Medicines’ District Manager and human resources department. Nature’s Medicines, the EEOC alleges, took no action in response to McWilliams’ complaints against the General Manager. Because of its failure to take remedial action, the EEOC contends, Nature’s Medicines allowed the General Manager to target and harass additional victims while his employment continued. In late October 2018, Williams resigned her employment.

From July 2018 through April 2019, according to the EEOC, Nature’s Medicines did not have a policy prohibiting sexual harassment. After Nature’s Medicines drafted a policy forbidding sexual harassment, the EEOC alleges, at least one additional female employee resigned and walked out of the building as a result of the General Manager’s sexual harassment. Both before and after Nature’s Medicines implemented it anti-harassment policy, the EEOC contends, a number of additional employees complained about the General Manager’s sexual harassment to the District Manager. The EEOC maintains that Nature’s Medicines only investigated the General Manager after a charge of discrimination was filed with the EEOC in April 2019 and finally fired the General Manager in October 2019, a year after McWilliams first complained to the District Manager and human resources department about the General Manager’s sexual harassment.

Attorneys For Sexual Harassment Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal employment laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. As part of its administrative enforcement of the federal employment laws, the EEOC is authorized by federal law to file lawsuits on behalf of sexual harassment victims. In a press release issued by the EEOC on September 28, 2020 regarding the case, a Regional Attorney for the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, Debra M. Lawrence, explained that “sexual harassment is even more pernicious when it is committed by a general manager.” “Managers have a heightened responsibility to prevent sexual harassment,” Ms. Lawrence noted, “not engage in it.” In commenting on the case, the Director of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, Jamie R. Williamson, stated that “all employees, in all industries, have the right to a workplace free from sexually offensive comments and conduct.”

Sexual Harassment Lawyers In Inverness, FL

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Citrus County, Florida sexual harassment attorneys have been fighting for the rights of workers for more than two decades. If you have been subjected to sexually harassing behavior in the workplace or have questions about your right to a workplace free from sexually harassing behavior, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Inverness, 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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