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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
9-8-11

Grays Harbor Community Hospital To Pay $125,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Female Workers’ Complaints of Harassment Ignored, EEOC Alleged

SEATTLE  – Grays Harbor Community  Hospital in Aberdeen, Wash.,  will pay $125,000 and provide training and other relief to settle a federal  lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission (EEOC) announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Grays  Harbor failed to take appropriate action despite repeated complaints to upper  level management that a supervising pharmacist was sexually harassing at least  four pharmacy technicians. The agency’s investigation found that the supervisor  made offensive sexual comments, inflicted details of his sex life and  masturbation habits on the technicians, and showed explicit material from the  internet to the women. He also was known  to approach a woman from behind to whisper in her ear, block her pathway, and rub  her back, legs, and arms, the agency said.

Sexual harassment violates Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The  EEOC filed this lawsuit (EEOC v. Grays  Harbor Community Hospital, CV- 10-05616-BHS) in the U.S. District Court for  the District of Washington, after an investigation by EEOC Investigator Bryne  Moore and an attempt to reach a pre-litigation settlement with the hospital  through conciliation.

In addition to paying the women  $125,000, Grays Harbor  Community Hospital  agreed to a three-year consent decree, under which it must implement training  on anti-discrimination laws and post a notice at the hospital concerning the  settlement.

During settlement talks, the  hospital had demanded that anyone receiving settlement funds sign a document  releasing Grays Harbor from a range of  liability claims beyond the EEOC’s sexual harassment lawsuit. Grays Harbor  asked the court to intervene when the EEOC refused these terms. The court denied Gray Harbor’s  request, ruling that EEOC is “the master of its own case.”

“The EEOC will not sign off on  settlement terms that are unfair and overbroad.  In the end, we reached an agreement that addresses the women harmed by  sexual harassment in this case and that helps prevent future sexual harassment  in that workplace,” said EEOC San  Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo.

“Employers have a duty to promptly  and effectively respond to complaints of sexual harassment. When employers fail to take such reports  seriously, the EEOC will take action to make sure women are not treated this  way in the workplace,” said Michael Baldonado, district director of the EEOC’s San Francisco office. “As  a result of the settlement, Grays Harbor will  train management and supervisors in harassment prevention and ensure that  employees can report sexual harassment with confidence that their complaints  won’t be ignored.”

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