A quick review of the EEOCs cases over the past decade, October 2009 to October 2019, reveals approximately 105 cases where the EEOC sued the employer for Sexual Harassment. It is interesting that about 30 of that number occurred in 2018 and 2019 alone. If you are an employer, please take note to ensure your business understands the implications and what this might mean to your bottom line if management does not fully understand that they are part of the process and must know how to prevent sexual harassment and retaliation from occurring. And that no one is above the law.
Utility’s General Manager Targeted Office Manager, Federal Agency Charges
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 16, 2019
CONTACTS: Nancy Sienko, Seattle Field Director (415) 625-5611
Amos Blackman, Senior Trial Attorney (206) 220-6916
GLASGOW, Mont. — A utility serving Northeast Montana, NorVal Electric Cooperative, Inc., violated federal law when its general manager sexually harassed a female employee and then retaliated against her when she objected to his conduct and sought to report it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace as well as retaliating against an employee for opposing harassment. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. NorVal Electric Cooperative, Inc., Case No. 4:19-cv-00071-BMM) in U.S. District Court for Montana, Great Falls Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks money damages for the office manager and injunctive relief to remedy and prevent sexual harassment and retaliation from recurring.
“The EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace notes that power disparities can be a risk factor for harassment,” said EEOC Seattle Field Office Director Nancy Sienko. “Here we found that the company’s top executive not only sexually harassed his direct subordinate, but also used his position to circumscribe her ability to report his conduct. It’s critical that we send the message loud and clear — nobody is above the law.”
Blackman noted that eliminating policies and practices that discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).