First row: CPs, Capricius Pearson, Tiffany Pete, Jacquelyn Hines, and Christopher Partee. Second row: Supervisory Trial Attorney Joseph Crout, Lead Trial Attorney Anica C. Jones, Investigator Dwight Johnson, Trial Attorney Matthew McCoy, Lead Systemic Paralegal Nancy Kincaide, and Trial Attorney Kelley Thomas.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A jury has rendered a verdict of more than $1.5 million in the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against New Breed Logistics, a North Carolina-based logistics services provider, the agency announced today. The verdict followed a seven-day trial before U.S. District Court Judge S. Thomas Anderson on behalf of four claimants and included awards of $177,094 in back pay, $486,000 in compensatory damages and $850,000 in punitive damages for the discrimination victims.
The EEOC's lawsuit charged New Breed Logistics with subjecting three female employees in Memphis to sexual harassment and retaliating against the three female employees and one male employee for opposing the harassment in violation of Title VII. Specifically, the jury found that New Breed, through the conduct of a warehouse supervisor, harassed three temporary workers by subjecting them to unwelcome sexual touching and lewd, obscene and vulgar sexual remarks at the company's Avaya Memphis area warehouse facility.
Further, the EEOC charged and the jury found, a New Breed supervisor fired the three temp workers because they complained about the harassment. In addition, the EEOC said, the supervisor also retaliated against a male employee by terminating him because he opposed the harassment and agreed to serve as a witness for several claimants during the company's investigation.
Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 2:10-cv-02696-STA-tmp) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee at Memphis after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
In addition to the monetary damages awarded by the jury totaling $1,513,094, the EEOC also seeks an injunction prohibiting discrimination in the future by the defendant as well as other injunctive relief to be determined by the court.
"This agency always works to resolve cases informally whenever possible," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. "When we are unable to do so, as we have demonstrated yet again, we will try the case to verdict to ensure that employers will be held accountable for discriminatory practices, including sexual harassment, and retaliation against individuals who oppose such misconduct. The EEOC has successfully tried eight cases during this fiscal year prevailing in all but one."
This jury verdict represents the second $1.5 million-dollar verdict in a sexual harassment case that the Memphis Office has obtained since March 2011.
Faye A. Williams, regional attorney for the Memphis District Office, said, "Memphis is often called 'America's Distribution Center.' Temporary employees, as were the claimants in this case, are a vital part of the country's work force, helping businesses to distribute goods across the United States and the world in a timely and efficient manner. Enduring sexual harassment by a supervisor should not be a part of the job. We hope this case and this verdict serve to remind employers of their responsibility to protect temporary employees placed in their facilities to work. Employers at the job site must provide a safe place for employees, including providing a sexual harassment policy to the workers, conducting training in the workplace about the policy and timely investigating claims of harassment."
New Breed Logistics, a logistics services provider that helps companies design and operate supply chains, warehousing and distribution, operates five Memphis warehouses. New Breed is a national company, headquartered in High Point, N.C. The company also has warehouses in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Texas, Los Angeles and Kearny, N.J.
Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.