Grocery Store Allowed Manager to Sexually Harass and Then Fire Female Employees Who Resisted His Advances, Federal Agency Charges
NEW YORK - Foodtown Corp., a supermarket in Elmhurst, N.Y., violated federal law by maintaining a hostile work environment where two female workers were sexually harassed by their supervisor and then fired for opposing this misconduct, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's complaint, two female employees were subjected to repeated, egregious sexual harassment by their supervisor, a department manager. This included solicitations for sex, lewd comments about the women's bodies, and inappropriate touching of their bodies, the complaint alleges. The women repeatedly rejected the supervisor's advances, and one reported the harassment to the store manager. Despite this complaint, the harassment continued, and the supervisor then terminated both employees in retaliation for their rejection of his unwanted advances, the EEOC charges.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex, and also from retaliating against workers who object to discrimination. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the statute. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (EEOC v. Foodtown Corp., and 82-10 Baxter Avenue Food Corp. d/b/a Foodtown a/k/a Foodtown of Baxter Avenue, Civil Action No. 18-cv-5100) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the two employees and injunctive relief. The agency's litigation effort will be led by Senior Trial Attorney Adela Santos, supervised by Supervisory Trial Attorney Raechel Adams.
"Federal law gives employees the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment," said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC's New York District Office. "No worker should be forced to endure lewd comments, propositions for sex, and inappropriate touching just so she can earn a paycheck."
The EEOC's New York District director, Kevin Berry, added, "Sexual harassment victims who bring the abuse to the attention of their supervisors are doing the company a favor and should never be punished for it. The EEOC will continue to aggressively enforce federal laws against retaliation for reporting discrimination in the workplace."
The EEOC's New York District Office oversees New York, Northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.