$125,000 Settlement in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit, Training Ordered

Thursday, October 20, 2011
Question:  Would sexual harassment training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

American Laser Centers (ALC), the largest laser hair removal company in the  U.S., will pay $125,000 and furnish other relief to settle claims of sexual  harassment and retaliation at its site in Fresno, Calif., resolving a lawsuit  filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the original lawsuit, female  staff at the company’s clinic in Fresno  charged that they were sexually harassed since at least 2006 by the landlord  for the facility in question. The women,  including a clinic manager, faced frequent harassment which included leering,  unwelcome touching, sexual advances and appearances in their work area by the visibly  aroused landlord. The harassment got to the point where one  female employee felt compelled to bring her brother to work as a measure of  protection.

The clinic manager and others reported  the harassment to ALC district management in 2006, expressing fear of working  with the landlord. The women’s fears  were met with a superficial internal investigation with no finding of  wrongdoing on the part the landlord and continued exposure to their feared  harasser. The female clinic manager was fired just a week and a half after  reporting the misconduct.

The EEOC originally filed suit in  January 2010 in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (EEOC v. American Laser Centers LLC, Case  No. 1:09-CV-02247-AWI-DLB), arguing that the company?s failure to appropriately  address the harassment of all the women, and the retaliatory discharge suffered  by the manager who complained, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of  1964. Title VII also prohibits employers  from permitting third parties to harass their employees. A three-year consent decree reached by both  parties effectively settles the suit for $125,000 in backpay and compensatory damages for distress suffered by the four female targets.

The consent decree also calls for  injunctive relief to correct and prevent future instances of harassment,  discrimination and retaliation at American  Laser Center  clinics in and around the company’s bay area region, which encompasses Fresno, Calif. Requirements include implementing anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policies  and complaint procedures; annual compliance training for staff; designation of  an internal EEO officer; holding managers accountable for engaging in such misconduct; posting an EEOC notice on the matter; and, reports on the handling  of such complaints to the EEOC.
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