$487,500 Settlement in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Grocery Retailer

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

National grocery chain Fred  Meyer will pay $487,500 to seven workers employed at its Oak  Grove, Ore., store and provide other relief to settle a sexual harassment  lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).   This is the  company's second such settlement in just over five years; in late 2008, the  company also settled an EEOC sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of three  Oregon City store employees for $485,000. 

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, female employees at Fred Meyer's Oak  Grove store in Milwaukie, Ore., were sexually harassed by the same  customer from at least 2007.  The man  visited the store almost daily, and often several times a day, and he would  make lewd comments to both employees and customers, in addition to grabbing  employees, cornering them, touching their breasts, and pulling one employee  onto his lap. 

The EEOC said the numerous complaints by female employees to store  management and security were dismissed as "hearsay," even after store security  videotaped the customer reaching over the checkout counter to grab a female  associate.  Employees were instructed  that the customer could not be excluded from the store unless the security  department personally witnessed him engaging in the offensive behavior, a  management decision that forced many female employees to suffer his harassment  for years.

Title VII of the  Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment and requires employers to  take prompt action to investigate and to stop the behavior after they receive  complaints.  After first attempting to  reach a voluntary settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Fred Meyer Stores, Inc., Civil  Number 3:11-CV-00832-HA) in U.S.  District Court for the District of Oregon.   The case was set for trial starting June 5, 2014 before Federal District  Judge Haggerty, who also presided over the Oregon City lawsuit before it  settled.  As before, Judge Haggerty has  ordered a court-enforceable consent decree requiring Fred Meyer to revamp its  policies, train its staff, and report to the EEOC future complaints of sexual  harassment. 

Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and  investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the EEOC's  Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

Fred Meyer Stores, Inc. is a nationwide grocery chain with over 30,000  employees and 131 stores in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.  Fred Meyer is a wholly owned subsidiary of  the Kroger Company, whose fiscal sales in 2013 totaled $98 billion dollars and  employs more than 375,000 employees nationally.   The Kroger Company is listed as one of the five largest retailers in the  world.

Login to read more.


Username: *

Password: *
Accept terms *
Login failed.
copyright 2000 - 2024 Curtis Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. | Access to the HR Care publications is subject to certain terms and conditions.
Learn about our online compliance training at www.hrclassroom.com