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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
8-19-10

EEOC Sues Garfield Medical Center For Sexual Harassment, Retaliation

Multiple Hospital Workers Were Targets of Obscene Comments and Touching

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the filing of a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Garfield Medical Center, Inc., an acute care facility in Monterey Park, Calif.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC contends that Garfield Medical Center allowed a male co-worker to harass at will, subjecting a class of female employees to a barrage of inappropriate touching and rubbing of body parts, propositions for romantic dates and sex-for-pay, graphic discussions of sexual activities, vulgar comments regarding female employees’ body parts, and even obscene comments regarding underage patients at the facility. In addition, the EEOC claims that Garfield terminated an employee because she complained about the harassment, while others were compelled to quit rather than endure the severely hostile work environment.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California (EEOC v. Garfield Medical Center, Inc., Case No. CV-10-6179-GHF(FmOx)), after efforts to reach a pre-litigation settlement failed. The EEOC’s suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the victims of harassment, back pay for the victims of retaliation and constructive discharge, and injunctive relief intended to prevent harassment and retaliation at Garfield.

“The facts of this case are truly disturbing,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “While hospitals and health care facilities tend to focus on patient care, federal law requires them to protect their employees as well from harassment and sexual abuse.”

“When employees report a co-worker’s inappropriate behavior, employers must immediately investigate the claims and take steps to rectify the situation,” said Olophius Perry, district director for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “Ignoring a complaint will only exacerbate the problem.”

Garfield Medical Center employs over 1,300 employees at its 210-bed acute care facility in Monterey Park, California.

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