U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Everetts, N.C., Store Failed to Stop Customer’s Abuse of Clerk, Federal Agency Charged
GREENVILLE, N.C. – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today it has filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against Domestic Fuels & Lubes, Inc., for subjecting a female employee to a sexually hostile work environment at its facility in Everetts, N.C. Domestic Fuels & Lubes, whose primary office is located in Chesapeake, Va., distributes heating fuel, diesel and other petroleum products.
The EEOC charged that from around April 2008 through at least May 2009, administrative clerk Ashley Edmondson was subjected to harassment by a male customer, crude sexual comments, requests for sex, and physical touching. The customer regularly visited the Everetts facility where Edmondson worked. During those visits, and during phone calls to the facility, the male customer would ask Edmondson to have sex with him, talk about his sexual prowess, and talk about sexual acts that he wanted to do to Edmondson. According to the EEOC’s complaint, the harassment sometimes took place within the hearing of Edmondson’s supervisor. Although Edmondson complained about the harassment to her supervisor, the EEOC said, the supervisor failed to address it.
Failure to correct known sexual harassment, whether by a co-worker or customer, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (EEOC v. Domestic Fuels & Lubes, Inc., Civil Action No. 4:10-cv-00128) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The EEOC seeks compensatory and punitive damages for Edmondson, as well as injunctive and other monetary relief.
“Employers must realize that the law requires them to address sexual harassment of their employees by third parties, including their customers,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “Companies need to train their managers and supervisors about the requirements of Title VII, including the requirement that they address sexual harassment that they see or become aware of.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. More information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.