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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
4-20-10

Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company To Pay $30,000 To Settle EEOC Retaliation Lawsuit

Employee Was Demoted as Punishment for Reporting Sexual Harassment Complaint, Federal Agency Charged

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Los Angeles-based insurance company that services  policyholders in 12 states will pay $30,000  and furnish other relief to settle an unlawful retaliation lawsuit filed by the  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced  today.

According  to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the Charlotte,  N.C., facility of Golden State  Mutual Life Insurance Company demoted William Barringer from associate sales  manager to the position of sales associate in retaliation for reporting a  complaint of sexual harassment that he had received from an employee he super­vised. The report of the complaint was made to a  vice president and agency director of Golden State. The EEOC also charged that Barringer was  demoted in retaliation after he informed the alleged harasser, who was his  supervisor, that he had reported the complaint.

Such  retaliation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit on March 16, 2009 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v.  Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, Civil Action No. 3:09-cv-105, filed  in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina) after first  attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

In  addition to requiring Golden State to pay $30,000 to Barringer, the one-year  consent decree resolving the case enjoins Golden State from engaging in any  further retaliation against employees based on their oppo­sition to unlawful  employment practices or employment practices which the employee reasonably  believes to be un­lawful under the federal EEO statutes enforced by the EEOC. The company will also provide a positive  letter of reference for Barringer, redistribute a copy of its written  anti-discrimination policy to each of its employees, and make periodic reports  to the EEOC.

“Employees should be confident that they can make their  employers aware of violations of federal anti-discrimination laws without fear  of reprisal,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of EEOC’s Charlotte  District Office. “The anti-retaliation  provisions of Title VII are indispensable to the attainment of a workplace free  of discrimination.”

In addition to Barnes, the EEOC was represented by  Supervisory Trial Attorney Tracy H. Spicer and Trial Attorney Edward O’Farrell  Loughlin.

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