Owner Subjected Female Employees to Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Fired Employees Who Complained, Federal Agency Says
MIAMI – Piloto Photo Center, Inc., a Miami-based photography studio and photograph processor, violated federal law when it subjected female employees to sexual and gender-based harassment, and then fired two employees who complained, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Piloto Photo Center’s Owner, Carlos Piloto, subjected female employees to sexual and/or gender based harassment and fired two employees, including a manager, who opposed the harassing conduct. The agency said that female employees were regularly subjected to graphic sexual comments and demeaning gender-based name calling, including frequent comments about sexual conduct; the sexual habits of animals; the female anatomy; the male anatomy; and displays of pornography. At least two other female employees were subjected to inappropriate touching by Piloto. Two employees complained to Piloto about his conduct and were fired shortly thereafter, the EEOC charges.
Sexual harassment and retaliation are forms of discrimination which violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Piloto Photo Center, Inc., Case No. 1:12-CV-20751-MGC) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the company from engaging in further employment discrimination or retaliation, as well as back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages.
“Employees have a legal right to be free of sex harassment and, when it does occur, the right to complain about it without fear of reprisal,” said Malcolm Medley, district director of the EEOC’s Miami District Office. “Unfortunately, sexual harassment remains a problem in our community. The EEOC is committed to ensuring that it does not happen again at this workplace or in others.”
EEOC Regional Attorney Robert E. Weisberg added, “The EEOC stands ready to litigate sexual harassment cases to vindicate the rights of the victims.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
The EEOC Miami District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and litigation in Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The Miami District Office has a Field Office in Tampa and a Local Office in San Juan.