Company Ignored Escalating Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault of Female Cashier, Federal Agency Charged
GREENVILLE, Miss. - The Canton, Miss., franchise of Save-A-Lot Grocery operated by Potter and Sims Foods, Inc., a Kosciusko, Miss.-based grocery company, will pay a former employee $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
EEOC charged in its suit that Sharon Bennett, who was employed by Save-A-Lot as a cashier, was subjected to severe and pervasive sexual harassment by the former store manager. The agency said that the harassment included lewd comments and repeated requests for sexual favors that escalated to physical harassment, and that manager sexually assaulted Bennett. EEOC alleged that Bennett informed the store owner of the sexual harassment and assault, but that the employer failed to take corrective action.
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and employers must take steps to prevent and promptly correct sexual harassment. EEOC filed suit in the Greenville Division of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi (Case No: 4:15-cv-00129) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The 30-month consent decree settling the suit not only affords relief for the victim, but requires the store to institute measures to prevent discrimination and sexual harassment in the future. In addition to the monetary relief, the consent decree includes provisions for the development of sexual harassment and anti-discrimination policies, training on these policies and reporting and posting of anti-discrimination notices.
"This is our second lawsuit against Mississippi Save-A-Lot franchisees," said EEOC Birmingham Regional Attorney C. Emanuel Smith. "We are pleased that this company was able to promptly reach resolution of this lawsuit. Save-A-Lot franchisees should now have effective policies and training in place to prevent the type of conduct that led to this litigation."
Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director for EEOC's Birmingham District, said, "EEOC will continue to aggressively pursue remedies for victims of sexual harassment when companies fail in their duties under the law. All employees have a right to a work environment free of harassment based on sex."
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. EEOC's Birmingham District Office has jurisdiction over Alabama, most of Mississippi and part of Florida (including Pensacola). Further information about EEOC is available on its
website at www.eeoc.gov.