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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
6-25-12

Country Fresh Market to Pay $95,000 to Settle EEOC Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Female Grocery  Store Employees Were Sexually Harassed, Some Forced to Quit, Federal Agency Charged

PITTSBURGH – A Brownsville, Pa.-based  grocery store will pay $95,000 and provide significant equitable relief to  settle a federal sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S.  Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced  today. 

The EEOC charged that Country Fresh  Market, LLC knowingly permitted the flagrant sexual harassment of women who  worked in the meat department by the department manager at the com­pany’s Brownsville  store.  The unwelcome harassment included  physical touching and repeated sexual advances and comments.

Not only did company officials fail  to take prompt action to stop the harassment, one company official threatened  employees with termination for complaining about the abuse.  Two women were forced to quit their jobs  because of the intolerable situation, the EEOC said in the lawsuit.

Title VII  of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment.  Title VII also protects employees from  retaliation for opposing sexual harassment or discrimination.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court  for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Civil Action Number 2:11-cv-01211) after  first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation  process.

In  addition to the $95,000 in monetary relief to the four class members, the three-year  consent decree resolving the case includes injunctive relief barring Country  Fresh from engaging in sexual harassment, sex discrimination or retaliation. Country  Fresh must create and enforce a harassment and retaliation policy which includes  complaint procedures and requires company officials, managers and supervisors  to actively monitor the work environment to make sure it is free from  harassment or retaliation.  The grocery market  is required to train all company owners, managers, supervisors and employees on  Title VII and post a notice regarding the settlement.  Country Fresh is also mandated to report to the  EEOC regarding its investigation and handling of any future complaints of  harassment or discrimination as well as its compliance with the consent decree.

“Employers must  make sure that company officials, managers and supervisors take swift action to  stop workplace harassment,” said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director of  the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland,  Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.   

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence  added, “This settlement is designed to protect all Country Fresh employees from  the indignity of sexual harassment and to ensure that no employee is retaliated  against for exercising his or her federally protected right to oppose this or any  other form of discrimination.”

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