Private Prison Group to Pay $60,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment And Retaliation Suit; Training Required

Wednesday, September 6, 2017
The GEO Group, Inc., operator of the Central Arizona Correctional Facility (CACF) in Florence, Ariz., will pay $60,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, GEO allowed its employees and managers to sexually harass Roberta Jones since June 2007. For example, the agency alleged that certain male superior officers and coworkers would frequently stand around bragging about their sexual exploits. At least two superior officers were alleged to have put their hands on Jones in an unwanted manner. GEO failed to adequately respond to Jones's complaints of sexual harassment, the EEOC said. The lawsuit also alleged that Geo assigned Ms. Jones to less desirable posts, disciplined, and terminated her after she complained about the harassment and participated in protected activity under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII, which prohibits sexual harassment, as well as barring employers from taking adverse action against employees because of their sex and because of their participation in activity protected by Title VII. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona (EEOC v. The GEO Group, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:15-cv-01909-SPL) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the consent decree settling the suit, GEO is required to pay $60,000 to Jones; review its equal employment opportunity policies; refer all complaints of sexual harassment to its Office of Professional Responsibility for investigation; ensure that any employment decisions that affect individuals involved in a complaint of sexual harassment are not based on any retaliatory motive; conduct training for all its employees and management staff at CACF; training on investigative techniques for all individuals who may investigate complaints of sexual harassment at CACF; make a number of employees ineligible for rehire; and ensure that its management evaluation system will take into account compliance with EEO policies, laws against retaliation, and compliance with the consent decree.
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