Federal Agency Charges Employee Given Negative Reference for Filing Sexual Harassment Complaint
PHOENIX -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that it is suing Greystar Holdings, Inc., doing business as Greystar Real Estate Partners and Greystar Properties, charging that the company unlawfully retaliated against an employee for filing a sexual harassment complaint. Greystar Holdings is an investment, development, and property management company that operates in real estate markets across the country including Phoenix, Arizona.
According to the EEOC, after the employee filed a complaint alleging sexual harassment, the complaint was settled, and the employee voluntarily resigned her employment. When she applied for employment elsewhere, however, she was informed that Greystar had provided a negative reference and recommended against hiring her because of her sexual harassment complaint.
Retaliation for complaining about discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (CV-09-2003-PHX-FJM in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The agency will seek monetary damages, including compensatory and punitive damages for the victim. In addition, the EEOC will also ask that Greystar be required to institute and implement policies to eradicate and prevent future episodes of retaliation.
“Employers must refrain from taking adverse action against an employee who engages in protected activity,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office. “The EEOC will continue to vigorously defend the federally protected rights of victims who are penalized when they exercise their rights under the law.”
Acting Director Rayford O. Irvin stated, “As far as the EEOC is concerned, retaliatory actions against employees who file complaints of discrimination simply will not be tolerated.”
The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Arizona, with Area Offices in Denver and Albuquerque.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.