With the topic of sexual harassment in the news, this case from EEOC is an important reminder of the importance of management taking immediate and appropriate action when an allegation of sexual harassment is made. It’s clear from this case, as well as growing reports of sexual harassment in various industries, more training is needed.
-EEOC Press Release…
EEOC Sues Anchor Staffing For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation
After Employee Complained About Sex Harassment, Staffing Company Ended Her Assignment and Denied Her Future Assignments, Federal Agency Charges
CHICAGO – Anchor Staffing, a Chicago-based staffing agency, violated an employee’s federal civil rights when it failed to respond adequately to her complaint about sexual harassment, removed her from her work assignment, and denied her any future work, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on November 1, 2017.
According to Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago, the EEOC’s pre-suit investigation revealed that a female employee, whom Anchor Staffing assigned to work as a telephone operator at the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), was sexually harassed on her first day of work by another Anchor Staffing employee assigned to IDHS.
“After she complained to Anchor Staffing about the harassment, Anchor immediately removed the employee from her assignment at IDHS and failed to provide her any other work assignments, effectively firing her,” Bowman said. “Punishing a harassment victim for standing up for her rights is unconscionable and unlawful, and the EEOC will fight such misconduct.”
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination (including sex harassment) as well as retaliation in employment. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. Anchor Staffing, Inc., Civil Action No. 17-cv-7899, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, and has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Andrea R. Wood.
The EEOC’s regional attorney for the Chicago District, Greg Gochanour, said, “Employees of staffing agencies, who constitute a large and growing share of the American workforce, are protected by federal civil rights laws. Like any employer, staffing agencies must react appropriately to complaints of sexual harassment. Here, Anchor Staffing responded unlawfully to an employee complaint by making her worse off when it terminated all her work assignments, both present and future.”
The EEOC seeks full make-whole relief, including back pay, future employment opportunities, compensatory and punitive damages, and non-monetary measures to correct Anchor Staffing’s practices in the future. The government’s litigation effort will be led by EEOC Trial Attorneys Brad Fiorito and Rich Mrizek and supervised by EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason.