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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
3-2-10

EEOC Settles Sexual Harassment & Retaliation Suit Against HD Supply In Wyoming

Sex-Based Misconduct Continued Despite Complaints to Manager, who Condoned and participated in Harassment, Federal Agency Charged

GILLETTE, Wyo. – HD Supply, Inc., one of nation’s largest wholesale suppliers of building  materials, has agreed to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit  filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency  announced today. The EEOC had charged  that a female office clerk was sexually harassed and ridiculed by a male  co-worker at the company’s facility in Gillette, Wyo.

According to the EEOC’s suit, the  co-worker allegedly groped the office clerk’s crotch and breasts, forcibly  tried to kiss her and otherwise inappropriately touched her even in front of  cust­omers. The woman followed proper  channels by complaining to a male branch manager. The manager, in turn, purportedly made a lewd  gesture with his tongue, laughed about whether she had been kissed that day and  allowed the sexual harassment to persist, according to the EEOC. After the internal com­plaint, the EEOC  claims that the alleged victim suffered retaliatory harassment including verbal  ridicule and pranks, such as placing dog feces in her car.

Sexual harassment and retaliation  for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of  1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. HD Supply, Inc., et al., Case  No. 2:09-CV-00048-ABJ) on March 11, 2009, in U.S. District Court for the  District of Wyoming. While the EEOC’s  Denver Field Office conducted the investigation, the EEOC’s Los Angeles  District Office assumed the responsibility of negotiating the 18-month consent  decree reached by both parties.

According to the consent decree  settling the suit, the victim will receive monetary relief of $33,000. Further, the consent decree requires that HD  Supply implement an internal policy, proce­dures and staff training at its  Gillette facility to address sexual misconduct and retaliation in the  workplace. Per the consent decree, the EEOC will also track future internal complaints of sexual harassment at the  facility.

“Employees absolutely have the  right to work in an environment free of sexual harassment under federal law,”  said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Los Angeles District  Office. “Employers must ensure that  workers are safe in this respect and that immediate action is taken to identify  and rectify sexual misconduct in the workplace.”

The district director for the  EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, Olophius E. Perry, added, “The EEOC appreciates  that HD Supply worked with us to bring justice for the alleged victim and apply  measures to avoid this kind of harassment in the future. Employees should be encouraged to report  harassment to prevent the escalation of misconduct that occurred in this case.  Retaliation against those that complain is both illegal and chills other  employees from coming forward.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment  discrimination. Further information is  available at www.eeoc.gov.