Employee Was Demoted as Punishment for Reporting Sexual Harassment Complaint, Federal Agency Charged
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Los Angeles-based insurance company that services policyholders in 12 states will pay $30,000 and furnish other relief to settle an unlawful retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the Charlotte, N.C., facility of Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company demoted William Barringer from associate sales manager to the position of sales associate in retaliation for reporting a complaint of sexual harassment that he had received from an employee he supervised. The report of the complaint was made to a vice president and agency director of Golden State. The EEOC also charged that Barringer was demoted in retaliation after he informed the alleged harasser, who was his supervisor, that he had reported the complaint.
Such retaliation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit on March 16, 2009 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, Civil Action No. 3:09-cv-105, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
In addition to requiring Golden State to pay $30,000 to Barringer, the one-year consent decree resolving the case enjoins Golden State from engaging in any further retaliation against employees based on their opposition to unlawful employment practices or employment practices which the employee reasonably believes to be unlawful under the federal EEO statutes enforced by the EEOC. The company will also provide a positive letter of reference for Barringer, redistribute a copy of its written anti-discrimination policy to each of its employees, and make periodic reports to the EEOC.
“Employees should be confident that they can make their employers aware of violations of federal anti-discrimination laws without fear of reprisal,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “The anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII are indispensable to the attainment of a workplace free of discrimination.”
In addition to Barnes, the EEOC was represented by Supervisory Trial Attorney Tracy H. Spicer and Trial Attorney Edward O’Farrell Loughlin.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.