Female Employee Sexually Harassed, Assaulted and Threatened by Supervisor, Federal Agency Charged
NEW ORLEANS - Complete Maintenance, Inc., a Dallas/Fort Worth commercial janitorial service doing business in the New Orleans Metropolitan area, has agreed to pay $45,600 in damages and provide other significant relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed last year by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In the lawsuit, EEOC charged Complete Maintenance with liability for the severe sexual harassment perpetrated by one of the company's male supervisors. According to EEOC, while cleaning the men's bathroom at a retail store serviced by the company, a housekeeper was sexually assaulted by the supervisor, who also threatened to kill members of her family if she told anyone about the assault. The following day, the housekeeper reported the assault, at which time a store manager contacted the sheriff's department. After the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office received the report and informed the company, the accused supervisor left Louisiana to attend a Complete Maintenance meeting. However, he never returned to work for the company and his whereabouts have been unknown since the incident, the lawsuit said.
Complete Maintenance had no written sexual harassment policy and had never provided the harasser / supervisor, the housekeeper or any other employee training on sexual harassment. EEOC filed this lawsuit on behalf of the housekeeper employed by Complete Maintenance. The EEOC alleged that under Title VII, Complete Maintenance is strictly liable for the sexual harassment carried out by the supervisor. The EEOC further alleged that without a sexual harassment policy and without providing employees specifics on how to complain about harassment, the company did not exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct the severely harassing behavior.
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation voluntary settlement through its conciliation process, EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 2:15-04446) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
On Aug. 9, 2016, Judge Ivan Lemelle signed and entered a consent judgment agreed to by the parties. In addition to the monetary damages, the consent judgment provides for significant non-monetary relief, including an injunction prohibiting any future discrimination. Complete Maintenance has further agreed to develop an effective policy to protect employees against harassment and/or retaliation and train its employees about these policies and Title VII's prohibitions concerning harassment and retaliation. Complete Maintenance will report to EEOC on its compliance with the consent judgment and post a notice to employees about the settlement and their rights to report any discrimination, as well as to seek redress.
"No one should have to suffer sexual harassment at the workplace," said Jim Sacher, regional attorney for EEOC's New Orleans and Houston offices. "This was a particularly severe case of abuse, and EEOC is pleased to have stepped in forcefully and made a terrible situation much better for everyone."
Claudia M. Molina, senior trial attorney for the Houston District Office, added, "This settlement should help the company develop a stronger workforce and a discrimination-free environment."
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the agency is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.