Human Resources Manager Sexually Harassed Female Assistant, Then Fired Her for Complaining, Federal Agency Says
RALEIGH, N.C. – Safelite Glass Co., the nation’s leading provider of auto glass repair and replacement, violated federal law by subjecting a female employee to a sexually hostile work environment and then firing her after she complained, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Lee Laraviere-Steele, who worked as a human resources assistant in Safelite’s Enfield, N.C., facility, was subjected to sexual harassment from March 2007 until March 2008 by the facility’s male human resources manager. The suit alleges that the human resources manager made unwelcome sexual comments to Laraviere-Steele such as telling her that she is pretty and sexy, asking her the color of her panties and commenting that she has nice breasts. The suit further alleges that the human resources manager rubbed Laraviere-Steele's shoulders and tried to kiss her and pull her into his lap. When Laraviere-Steele complained about the sexual harassment to upper management at the company in March 2008, the company failed to investigate the complaint or take action to stop the harassment. Instead, the company retaliated against Laraviere-Steele by firing her, according to the EEOC's complaint.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Raleigh Division ( Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Safelite Glass Co. , Civil Action No. 4:10cv00102) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement with Safelite. The agency seeks back pay for Laraviere-Steele as well as compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.
“Once an employee complains about harassment in the workplace, the employer is required under federal law to act reasonably to prevent further abuse,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “This case is especially egregious because the alleged harasser is the human resources manager, the person who in many companies is responsible for ensuring that employees are not harassed. The EEOC will aggressively prosecute cases where the employer ignores known harassment or retaliates against the victim for complaining.”
According to company information, Safelite is the nation's leading provider of vehicle glass repair and replacement services, providing mobile service to more than 95 percent of the U.S. population in all 50 states. The Columbus, Ohio-based company employs 10,000 people across the United States and serves more than 3.8 million customers each year through its company-owned operations.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.