U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Male Co-Worker Sexually Harassed and Abused Male Employees with Management’s Knowledge and Approval
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Pitre, Inc., a car dealership in Albuquerque, N.M., violated federal law by subjecting a group of men to disturbing forms of sexual harassment for over ten years and retaliating against male employees, who complained to management, announced the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity in its lawsuit filed on September 29, 2011.
In its suit, the EEOC said that a male co-worker habitually subjected Richard Yob, and a class of other men to sexual harassment. The men were touched, grabbed and bitten on their buttocks, penis and other parts of their bodies and were subjected to offensive sexual comments and frequent solicitations to perform sexual acts with the male co-worker, which created a hostile work environment for them. EEOC contends Pitre also retaliated against Richard Yob and other male employees who complained about the harassment. The EEOC also alleged that some men who could not tolerate the sexual harassment and/or the retaliatory actions of management were forced to quit their jobs. The suit further accuses the general manager and other supervisors of participating in the harassment by encouraging the male co-worker to sexually harass other male employees.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including male-on-male sexual harassment. When an employer disciplines, terminates or takes other punitive measures against an employee because the employee complains about workplace discrimination, the employer further violates Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Pitre Inc., Civil Action No.1:11-00875 LAM-KBM) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through the EEOC’s conciliation process.
“All employees, both men and women alike, have a right to work in an environment free of sexual touching and sexual harassment,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah. “It is particularly alarming when harassment of this nature continues for such an extended period of time with the owner and managements’ knowledge. The EEOC will prosecute such cases vigorously.”
The lawsuit requests the court to order Pitre Inc. to provide all the affected men with appropriate relief, including back wages for those forced to resign or terminated from their employment; compensatory and punitive damages; and a permanent injunction enjoining the company from engaging in any further gender-discriminatory practice. The EEOC also asks the court to order the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
EEOC Deputy District Director Elizabeth Cadle added, “The investigation revealed that the co-worker’s egregious sexual harassment persisted daily, despite repeated complaints to management, for over ten years and greatly impacting a lot of male employees at Pitre.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.