Female Employee Fired for Reporting Egregious Sexual Harassment, Federal Agency Charged
MIAMI - Vacation Resorts International (VRI), a provider of management and marketing services to resorts, condominiums, and timeshares, will pay $125,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. EEOC charged that VRI violated federal law when it permitted a manager at the Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort (which VRI manages) to sexually harass a groundskeeping/housekeeping employee and then unlawfully fired her when she resisted and reported the harassment.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, a male manager subjected Katrina Archer to repeated and egregious sexual harassment, including grabbing her breasts, exposing his penis to her, attempting to pull her onto his lap and repeatedly propositioning her for sex. The lawsuit also alleged that the male manager touched other female employees without their consent and made inappropriate comments about their bodies.
Archer repeatedly complained to the harassing manager's supervisor, who also witnessed some of the harassment herself. Nevertheless, EEOC alleged, no corrective action was taken. As the harassment worsened, Archer threatened to complain to the harasser's second-level supervisor and to his wife. Shortly thereafter, she was fired.
Both sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Vacation Resorts Int'l, Case No. 0:15-cv-62061, S.D. Fla.) on Sept. 30, 2015 after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Pursuant to the consent decree settling the suit, agreed to by the parties and approved by the court, VRI will pay Archer $125,000 in damages; provide sexual harassment and retaliation training to all of its employees at the Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort (on top of the biannual training already provided); and provide live, one-on-one trainings for both the accused harasser and his supervisor.
"Katrina Archer's courage and resilience, along with VRI's willingness to take EEOC's allegations seriously, produced a settlement that provides some compensation for the egregious sexual harassment and retaliation Ms. Archer endured, and helps prevent her former coworkers from being subjected to the same illegal treatment, " said Daniel Seltzer, EEOC's lead trial attorney in the case.
Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for EEOC's Miami District Office, added, "This settlement should send a clear message to the hospitality industry: The law will not tolerate subjecting female workers to sexual harassment. It is not enough to have an anti-discrimination policy; employers must work hard to ensure that such policies are enforced."
Eliminating discriminatory policies affecting vulnerable workers, who may be unaware of their rights under equal employment laws or reluctant or unable to exercise them, is one of six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan. These policies can include disparate pay, job segregation, harassment, and human trafficking.
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Its Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information can be found at www.eeoc.gov.