U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Fresno Aesthetics Services Company Fired Manager for Complaining About Widespread Sexual Harassment, Federal Agency Charged
FRESNO – American Laser Centers violated federal law by subjecting a class of women to a sexually hostile work environment in its Fresno, Calif., clinic and by retaliating against the manager of that clinic for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, (EEOC v. American Laser Centers, LLC, et al, Case No. 1:09-cv-02247), filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, the Fresno clinic's consulting physician and landlord engaged in repeated, egregious acts of sexual harassment toward female employees including frequent, unwelcome physical touching of a sexual nature and regularly appearing in their work area with a visibly erect penis.
Several of the women complained about the sexual harassment, but American Laser Centers failed to assist them, the EEOC reported. Instead, the agency said, company officials accused the women of misunderstanding the doctor and ordered them to return to work, stay away from the harasser and avoid being alone with him. Moreover, American Laser Centers retaliated against the manager of the Fresno location for her repeated complaints regarding the unlawful harassment by firing her.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to harass employees based on sex, including pregnancy and sexual harassment, and prohibits retaliation against someone who complains about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The agency seeks injunctive relief to end the discriminatory practices, plus back pay and compensatory and punitive damages to compensate the victims for their monetary losses and emotional pain and suffering and to deter the company from future civil rights violations.
EEOC Regional Attorney Anna Y. Park noted, "Every company has a duty to protect its employees from sexual harassment in its workplace even if it calls for remedial action against a sexual harasser who is, as in this case, its landlord and/or a consulting physician. In addition, employers must understand that their employees have a statutorily protected right to oppose unlawful harassment and discrimination and that EEOC will not tolerate any form of retaliation against employees who exercise that right.”
EEOC Fresno Local Office Director Melissa Barrios stated, "No employee should have to silently endure this type of offensive sexual conduct in order to keep a job. Employees have a right to work in an environment free of sexual harassment – and to complain if their employer fails to provide such an environment."
American Laser Centers http://www.americanlaser.com/index.aspx describes itself as the nation’s leading provider of aesthetic services, offering laser hair removal, cellulite reduction and skin rejuvenation treatments. It operates 225 clinics nationwide with more than 1,000 employees.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.