Or, to borrow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s less modest description from the title of its press release:
RAMPANT SEX HARASSMENT COSTS LOWE’S $1.7 MILLION IN SETTLEMENT OF EEOC LAWSUIT
Lowe’s, the nation’s second-largest home improvement retailer, has agreed to pay $1.72 million in settlement to three Washington State employees in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the EEOC. Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse Inc. must, per the court’s consent decree, revise store policies on discrimination, harassment, and retaliation to affect all employees at the company’s stores in Washington and Oregon and report regularly to the EEOC.
According to the EEOC sexual harassment lawsuit, Lowe’s store managers since 2005 actively engaged in and encouraged sexual harassment of male and female employees and then retaliated against these victims when they made objected to this unlawful, and undignified, treatment.
More specifically, one female employee was sexually assaulted in her manager’s office after having been repeatedly propositioned in innuendos. Two heterosexual male employees, like the sexually assaulted female also in their 20s, were repeatedly called gay and subjected to graphic sexual references by department heads. When these two coworkers sought the help of the store manager, he told the two they shouldn’t spend so much time together. The EEOC’s sexual harassment lawsuit asserted that Lowe’s failed to take prompt or even remedial action to stop the sexual harassment, an assertion that had Lowe’s seek the counsel of four separate law firms in an attempt to disprove.
As a result of over six months of daily harassment and hostile work environments, two of the three employees were terminated. The third, one of the two straight males, resigned. This loss of employment and the sexually hostile work environment were the reasons for the EEOC discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Lowe’s denies the claims of these three victims with whom it has settled the sexual harassment lawsuit, and its official statement regarding the settlement claims that the company is proud of its “anti-discrimination policies and procedures and is pleased the company has been able to secure a settlement with the EEOC that supplements our ongoing efforts to prevent discrimination in the workplace.”
Moving forward, Lowe’s employees, managers and supervisors, and human resources personnel will be trained on what constitutes harassment and retaliation.
Speaking in regards to the harassment lawsuit’s settle, EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo said, “No worker, regardless of gender or other discriminatory factors, should ever have to endure harassment in order to earn a paycheck.”
I and my fellow Higgins Firm’s Tennessee employment attorneys couldn’t agree more. If you have been subject to ongoing sexual harassment from a manager, or if supervisors at your Tennessee workplace allow an inappropriate sexual environment, contact our Nashville, TN employment law offices at 615-353-0930 or contact our law offices online by completing a TN workplace sexual harassment form.