Company Failed to Discipline Supervisor Who Sexually Harassed at Least Five Female Employees, Federal Agency Says
SAIPAN, CNMI - Pacific Airport Services, Inc., an airport services provider for various airlines servicing Saipan, will pay $65,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and constructive discharge lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC filed suit against the company in 2009, charging that a number of customer service agents were sexually harassed by their male supervisor while working for Pacific Airport Services at the Saipan International Airport between 2006 and 2007. The EEOC further asserts that the supervisor continuously subjected the women to sexual comments and advances, asking the women to perform sexual acts. In at least one instance, the supervisor allegedly requested oral sex from one of the customer service agents. The supervisor also grabbed the women, fondled their buttocks and placed his pelvic area in front of a female employee's face, according to the EEOC.
Despite complaints about the sexual harassment to management, the EEOC said, that the supervisor was not adequately disciplined since he maintained his supervisorial authority. In fact, the EEOC contends that at least one of the women was forced to resign as a result of continued hostility on the part of her supervisor.
Sexual harassment and constructive discharge (being forced to quit one's job because of intolerable conditions) violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of the Northern Mariana Islands (EEOC v. Pacific Airport Services, Inc., Case No. 09-0039) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The parties entered into a two-and-a-half year consent decree, requiring Pacific Airport Services to pay $65,000 to the victims. The company further agreed to revise and distribute its policy and procedures on Title VII, sex discrimination and sexual harassment; designate an experienced equal employment opportunity consultant; conduct annual anti-harassment training for all employees; and create a centralized tracking system to monitor internal complaints of discrimination, harassment and retaliation. The company is required to report the handling of such complaints, along with measures to comply with the decree, to the EEOC.
"Workers have the right to earn a living without having to endure sexual overtures and harassment," declared Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office, which has jurisdiction over the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. "Supervisors and upper management officials need to be the gatekeepers, ensuring that swift, proper action is taken to put a halt to sexual harassment in the workplace. The EEOC commends Pacific Airport Services' willingness to take positive steps to properly train its staff to help ensure that sexual harassment will not be a problem there again."
Timothy Riera, director of the EEOC's Honolulu Local Office, which directly oversees the territory, said, "Employers are responsible for maintaining a harassment-free environment for their employees. Those who have a well-distributed policy against sexual harassment, train employees on the policy and employ staff who are able to effectively investigate complaints will go a long way toward preventing such abuses on the job."
According to its website, www.pas-saipan.com, Saipan-based Pacific Airport Services began in 1991 and provides a variety of services for airlines in Saipan including technical operations, security, cleaning, and passenger services.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.