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PRESS RELEASE
5-24-12

Guam Business MD Wholesale to Pay $77,500 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Federal Agency  Charged Women Were Abused at Pharmaceutical Company Without  Anti-Harassment Policy

HAGATNA, Guam – Guam and  Micronesia’s leading pharmaceutical drug wholesaler, MD Wholesale, will pay  $77,500 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

Two female employees at MD  Wholesale’s facility in Taminung, Guam, were sexually harassed by a male  supervisor since at least 2008, according to the EEOC.  The harassment included verbal and physical  conduct of a sexual nature, creating a hostile work environment, the EEOC said.   The company did not have an anti-harassment  policy in place at the time the harassment occurred.  The EEOC argued that MD Wholesale was liable  because the company took no measures to prevent the harassment from occurring  and failed to take effective action to stop the harassment, despite complaints  to an assistant manager. 

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights  Act of 1964.  Following an investigation,  the EEOC filed its lawsuit in September 2011 in U.S. District Court for the  District of Guam (EEOC v. Mariano Prime  LLC dba MD Wholesale, Case No. 11-00029) after first attempting to settle  the matter through its conciliation process. 

As part of the settlement announced today, the parties  entered into a three-year consent decree requiring MD Wholesale to revise its  sexual harassment policy and complaint procedure and retain an equal employment  opportunity (EEO) coordinator to ensure all staff are trained regarding their  rights with respect to discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the  workplace.  MD Wholesale agreed to provide  additional training for management and human resources officials so that they  are equipped to appropriately deal with future EEO complaints.  Aside from the monetary relief for the  victims, MD Wholesale will also track future complaints by creating a  centralized tracking system, and the EEOC will monitor compliance with the  agreement as well as review MD Wholesale's handling of future EEO complaints.

“All workers have the right to go  to work without the fear that someone will unlawfully touch, humiliate or  otherwise discriminate against them,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for  the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which has jurisdiction over Guam.  “We commend MD Wholesale for taking these  initial steps toward securing a harassment-free working environment.”

Timothy Riera, director for the  EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office, which services Guam, added, “Employers need to  take a top-down approach toward preventing and effectively dealing with harass­ment  and discrimination on the job.  That starts  with a policy and complaint process that works and is communicated to all.  Managers, in particular, need to be trained  to appropriately deal with potential civil rights abuses, and certainly not  become part of the problem.  Where there  are gaps in under­standing the law, the EEOC is here to help.”

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