Company Failed to Stop Abuse of Female Teen Employee in North Little Rock Despite Her Complaints, Federal Agency Charges
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Major nationwide retail grocery store chain Kroger violated federal law by failing to prevent the sexual harassment of a teenage female employee over a period of several years, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, Kroger hired the employee as a courtesy clerk at a North Little Rock store when she was 15 years of age. She experienced sexual comments from a male co-worker almost twice her age over a period of several years. The employee's repeated complaints to store management failed to stop the harassment until she finally called the company's hotline number for assistance.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. The Kroger Company and Kroger Limited Partnership I, d/b/a Kroger, Civil Action No. 4:14-cv-00564) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief prohibiting Kroger from tolerating sexual harassment in the future and compensatory and punitive damages for the female employee.
"Companies must have sexual harassment policies - and enforce them - to ensure that the workplace is free of such abuse," said Katharine W. Kores, district director of the EEOC's Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. "They must also take immediate corrective action when they learn of such misconduct and ensure that it never recurs. Ignoring the rights of a young, vulnerable teen worker is especially unconscionable."
According to its website, www.thekrogerco.com, Cincinnati-based Kroger is one of the world's largest grocery retailers, with fiscal year 2013 sales of $98.4 billion.
The EEOC recently updated its Youth@Work website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/), which presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination. The website also contains curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities in the workforce.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.