Owner's Misconduct Toward Female Employee Caused Her to Quit, Federal Agency Charges
ROCK HILL, S.C. - TNT Propane, Inc. violated federal law when it subjected a female employee to a sexually hostile work environment resulting in her resignation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.
According to the EEOC's complaint, from early 2009 through around March 11, 2011, Pamela Wallace, who worked in TNT Propane's Lancaster, S.C., facility, was subjected to sexual harassment in the form of requests for sex and touching by the company's owner. The complaint alleges the owner asked Wallace several times for sex. According to the complaint, the company's owner touched Wallace's breasts or buttocks on many occasions. The complaint alleges that Wallace quit her job in March 2011 after an incident wherein the company's owner called Wallace into an isolated place at the Lancaster facility, groped her breasts and buttocks, and placed her hand on his crotch. Wallace resigned her employment shortly thereafter.
The EEOC alleges in its complaint that TNT Propane's owner is also the owner of the three affiliated entities named in the lawsuit: T-N-T of York County, Inc., TNT Trucking of the Carolinas, Inc., and TM Trucking of the Carolinas, LLC. The companies operate as an integrated business enterprise according to the EEOC's complaint.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from allowing a sexually hostile work environment to exist in the workplace. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Rock Hill Division (EEOC v. TNT Propane, Inc., et. al, Case No. 0:14-CV-00439-CMC-TER) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary relief, including back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief for Wallace.
"Harassment by an owner is particularly egregious because there is no one more senior in a corporation to address the harassment," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "Employers can therefore be automatically liable for sexual harassment perpetrated by an owner of a company."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.