Company Fired Employee Who Complained About Perceived Harassment, Agency Charged
PITTSBURGH — Verizon Pennsylvania Inc. has agreed to pay $37,000 and furnish other relief to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that Verizon fired Senior Field Clerk Lissa Hannan about 10 days after she complained about perceived sexual harassment by a male contractor.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Hannan began working for Verizon in September 2005 at its Bellevue, Pa., location as a “term employee” with a contract to work for anywhere from six to 36 months. She was assigned to perform administrative duties for a male contractor who worked in the office next to hers. In January 2006, Hannan, accompanied by the union president, complained to her second-level supervisor that she believed the male contractor was sexually harassing her. That day the company reassigned her to its Pittsburgh location pending investigation of her complaint. The EEOC charged that instead of investigating the complaint or taking action to stop the alleged harassment, Verizon terminated Hannan’s employment about 10 days later in retaliation for her complaint about sexual harassment.
Retaliation for protesting perceived employment discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (civil action no. 07-01304, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
Besides the monetary settlement, Verizon also agreed to train managerial employees at its Bellevue location regarding Title VII’s anti-retaliation provisions and to post a notice on the settlement.
“We are pleased the parties were able to resolve this matter amicably,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence. “The training should benefit all employees at the facility.”
In FY 2008, retaliation charge filings with the EEOC surged to an all time high of 32,690 -- up 22 percent from the prior year and almost triple the number of such filings in FY 1992.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.