U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Women Subjected to Sexual Comments, Propositions, and Touching by Male Supervisor, Federal Agency Charged
GREENVILLE, S.C. – The operators and management company of a Holiday Inn Express in Simpsonville, S. C., will pay $90,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The agency had charged that the defendants, Imperial Investments Greenville, Inc. and Imperial Investments Group, Inc., violated federal law by subjecting several female employees to a sexually hostile work environment at the hotel. The lawsuit further charged that one woman was unlawfully fired in retaliation for complaining about the sexual harassment. Such alleged actions violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, and retaliation.
According to the EEOC’s suit, the defendants maintained a sexually hostile working environment for Tamara Byrd, Pamela Kral, and Billie Jones. More specifically, the complaint alleged that from at least August 2007 until January 2009, the hotel’s male general manager subjected the women to sexual comments, sexual advances and unwelcome touching. When Tamara Byrd reported the sexual harassment to the defendants’ corporate office, the defendants failed to properly investigate or stop the harassment. The general manager then discharged Byrd. The EEOC contends that Byrd’s discharge was because she refused the general manager’s unwelcome sexual advances and in retaliation for her complaints of sexual harassment to the corporate office.
In addition to $90,000 in monetary damages to be split among the harassment victims, the consent decree resolving the case (EEOC v. Imperial Investments Greenville, Inc. and Imperial Investments Group, Inc., Case No. 6:10CV2971, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Greenville Division) includes injunctive relief enjoining the companies from discriminating on the basis of sex, and from engaging in retaliation within the meaning of Title VII. The decree also requires the redistribution of the companies’ sexual harassment policy, and requires annual training on sexual harassment and retaliation for the hotel’s managers, supervisors and employees. Finally, the companies must report complaints of sexual harassment to the EEOC throughout the term of the decree.
“Sexual harassment in the workplace will simply not be tolerated,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “An employer is obligated to maintain a workplace free of harassment. One who ignores sexual harassment, and fails to take active measures to prevent it risks legal liability.”
Tina Burnside, Supervisory Trial Attorney in the Charlotte District Office added: “We are pleased that the company has committed to redistributing its sexual harassment policy and providing training to its employees to combat against any future acts of discrimination.”
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.