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PRESS RELEASE
11-16-11

Garfield Medical Center To Pay $530,000 For Sexual Harassment, Retaliation

Hospital Worker Complaints Ignored Despite Years of Sexual Propositions, Touching And Obscene Comments About Minors, EEOC Charged

LOS ANGELES — The Garfield  Medical Center, an acute care facility in Monterey    Park, Calif., will  pay $530,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging the sexual harassment of its staff, the  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today. According to the federal agency, several of  the female targets of the harassment were either retaliated against or  compelled to quit after their complaints were ignored by hospital management.

The EEOC said that from 2007 the hospital allowed a male emergency  room admitting representative to harass a class of female employees by subjecting  them to inappropriate touching, propositions for sex, graphic discussions of  sexual activities, obscene pictures and comments regarding female body parts,  including those of underage patients. One  employee was terminated upon reporting the harassment, while others were  compelled to quit rather than endure the hostile work environment. Despite complaints to hospital management, the  offending employee was not terminated until 2009, more than two years after the  initial complaints were lodged.

The EEOC originally filed suit  against the hospital in August 2010 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC  v. AHMC Garfield Medical  Center dba Garfield  Medical Center, Inc., Case No. 10-CV-06179-GHF[FMOx]). As part of the settlement, Garfield Medical Center  entered into a three-year consent decree providing for the monetary relief for  at least ten named victims along with sweeping injunctive relief designed to  prevent and appropriately deal with future instances of harassment. Of the settlement amount, $100,000 will be  set aside as a class fund for victims who have yet to be identified. The consent decree also requires that  Garfield maintain a toll-free complaint hotline; retain a consultant to monitor  and track complaints; provide anti-harassment and anti-retaliation training for  all staff; and report compliance efforts to the EEOC.

“In order to be productive,  employees deserve a workplace free from sexual comments, repeated propositions  and inappropriate touching,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the  EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “We  commend Garfield  for agreeing to sweeping injunctive relief remedies to ensure this does not  happen again. The EEOC is committed to  remedying any disregard for the well-being and civil rights of workers.”

Olophius Perry, district director  for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, added, “Employers who ignore signs  of harassment in the workplace ultimately pay the price. The problem usually escalates over time,  causing greater potential liability for employers and a demoralized staff.”

According to its website, Garfield Medical  Center employs over 1,300 people,  treating over 50,000 patients annually in Monterey Park.

The EEOC enforces federal laws  prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.