$230,000 in Damages in Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Suit Against Medical Insurance Company

Friday, October 7, 2011

The nation’s largest insurer of medical liability, Napa-based The Doctors Company (TDC), has agreed to provide $230,000 in damages and to implement preventive measures to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced.

The EEOC charged that Kimber Thompson, age 23 and employed as an administrative assistant at TDC, was sexually harassed by her direct supervisor on a daily basis. The harassment included inappropriate comments about her appearance and personal life, text messages and e-mails, and unwelcome touching. Shortly after company-provided anti-sexual harassment training, Thompson spoke to management to file a complaint about the harassment. Her co-worker, Carrie Giltner, accompanied her as a witness to the harassment and for moral support. However, instead of taking appropriate steps to investigate or correct the harassment, the company began to hyper-scrutinize the work of the two women and subsequently fired both of them, the EEOC said.

Thompson said, “It was difficult to have to complain about sexual harassment; I was really afraid. But my co-workers, especially Carrie, really supported me. I was devastated when I was fired and I felt worse when they went after Carrie, too. I am pleased that the settlement includes measures which will prevent what happened to us from happening to anyone else. I would encourage anyone who is a victim of sexual harassment or retaliation to contact the EEOC.”

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. The law also prohibits retaliation for complaining about the misconduct. The EEOC filed suit (CV 10411 EMC) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California only after an investigation led by EEOC Investigator Margarita Hossaini-zadeh and first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court.

According to the consent decree entered today by U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White, TDC agreed to pay the women $230,000 in damages. The company will also take measures to assure that their managers understand that Title VII requires them to take complaints seriously and to promptly take appropriate corrective action. In addition, the company must make annual reports to the EEOC regarding any sexual harassment complaints received by the company and must also post a notice to employees regarding their rights under federal anti-discrimination laws.

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