Female Employees Faced Constant Sexual Harassment From Precious Metal Dealer Top Executive, Says Federal Agency
SEATTLE - Federal Way, Wash.-based precious metals dealer Northwest Territorial Mint violated federal law when its top executive subjected female employees to ongoing sexual harassment and forced one woman to resign, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to EEOC's suit, three former workers and other female employees faced ongoing, offensive sexual harassment from the owner, CEO and president of the company, including lewd sexual comments, offensive jokes, derogatory terms for females, remarks on women's breast sizes and body shapes, questions about intimate matters and screaming and name-calling. EEOC says most women were too afraid to complain about the offensive behavior because the owner bullied and insulted those who disagreed with him, and the company's policy offered no avenue for reporting misconduct by the company owner. When one of the three women did complain to her supervisor, nothing was done to stop the harassment, and she had no choice but to quit.
Sexual harassment and forced resignation violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Northwest Territorial Mint, LLC, Civil Action No. 2:15-cv-01554) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Seattle Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks monetary damages and other affirmative relief for three former employees, as well as injunctive relief to remedy and prevent future sexual harassment in the workplace.
"Sexual harassment laws apply to everyone in the workplace, especially the head of the company who has a duty to keep all employees safe," said Nancy Sienko, EEOC Seattle Field Director. "When harassers rely on their unchecked authority to abuse their victims and keep them silent, EEOC takes up the fight to ensure workers' rights to have a workplace free from discrimination and harassment."
EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Jonathan Peck said, "No one should be forced to choose between personal dignity and earning a paycheck. The owner's frequent use of graphic terms and demeaning insults, combined with the lack of an effective complaint procedure, left a female employee no alternative but to resign."
Northwest Territorial Mint, LLC, also operates divisions in several other locations including Dayton, Nev. and Tomball, Tex.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Additional information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.