Female Guard Sexually Harassed then Discharged for Complaining, Federal Agency Says
CHARLOTTE , N.C. – Securitas Security Services, USA, Inc., (“Securitas”), a uniformed security and patrol services violated federal law by subjecting a female employee to a sexually hostile work environment and then discharging her after she complained, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") charged in a lawsuit filed today. Securitas employs over 260,000 people in 40 countries.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Sheilandra Walker, who worked as a security guard at a Securitas client facility, was subjected to sexual harassment from February 28, 2008 until March 26, 2008 by two male guards; one of whom was her supervisor. The suit alleges that the two subjected Walker to unwelcome sexual comments, gestures and sexual touching. One of the guards (the Site Supervisor), told Walker that he had been alone for many years and loved to have sex, but needed a girlfriend. He asked Walker to help him find a girlfriend with large breasts. The Site Supervisor also talked about the size of Walker's breasts; asked the size of Walker's bra; and told her that he had not had sex since his wife died. These comments and others were made on a daily basis by the Site Supervisor.
The second guard was more explicit in his sexual harassment, the EEOC alleged. This security guard engaged in conduct such as licking his lips and grabbing his crotch while staring at Walker’s breasts; he would physically touch Walker by blocking the door of the guard shack when she tried to leave so that she had to brush up against him; on one occasion, he locked Walker in the guard shed while saying “mmm, mmm, mmm.” The suit further alleges that this Security Guard sent a highly obscene picture to Walker on her cell phone after retrieving her phone number from the job site. One day after Walker complained to the Branch Manager about the sexual harassment, she was discharged.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that 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 Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division ( Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Securitas Security Services, USA, Inc. , Civil Action No. 3:10-cv-487) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement with Securitas. The agency seeks back pay for Walker as well as compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.
“Employers must take prompt action in response to a sexual harassment complaint,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Companies should have in place a policy that prohibits sexual harassment, as well as a procedure for victims and witnesses to report it, and for the employer to promptly respond and rectify it. The policy should be widely distributed so that employees are aware of these procedures and can report harassment without fear of reprisal. Discrimination in any form will not be tolerated by the EECC.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.