Federal Agency Charged Women Were Abused at Pharmaceutical Company Without Anti-Harassment Policy
HAGATNA, Guam – Guam and Micronesia’s leading pharmaceutical drug wholesaler, MD Wholesale, will pay $77,500 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
Two female employees at MD Wholesale’s facility in Taminung, Guam, were sexually harassed by a male supervisor since at least 2008, according to the EEOC. The harassment included verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature, creating a hostile work environment, the EEOC said. The company did not have an anti-harassment policy in place at the time the harassment occurred. The EEOC argued that MD Wholesale was liable because the company took no measures to prevent the harassment from occurring and failed to take effective action to stop the harassment, despite complaints to an assistant manager.
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Following an investigation, the EEOC filed its lawsuit in September 2011 in U.S. District Court for the District of Guam (EEOC v. Mariano Prime LLC dba MD Wholesale, Case No. 11-00029) after first attempting to settle the matter through its conciliation process.
As part of the settlement announced today, the parties entered into a three-year consent decree requiring MD Wholesale to revise its sexual harassment policy and complaint procedure and retain an equal employment opportunity (EEO) coordinator to ensure all staff are trained regarding their rights with respect to discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace. MD Wholesale agreed to provide additional training for management and human resources officials so that they are equipped to appropriately deal with future EEO complaints. Aside from the monetary relief for the victims, MD Wholesale will also track future complaints by creating a centralized tracking system, and the EEOC will monitor compliance with the agreement as well as review MD Wholesale's handling of future EEO complaints.
“All workers have the right to go to work without the fear that someone will unlawfully touch, humiliate or otherwise discriminate against them,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which has jurisdiction over Guam. “We commend MD Wholesale for taking these initial steps toward securing a harassment-free working environment.”
Timothy Riera, director for the EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office, which services Guam, added, “Employers need to take a top-down approach toward preventing and effectively dealing with harassment and discrimination on the job. That starts with a policy and complaint process that works and is communicated to all. Managers, in particular, need to be trained to appropriately deal with potential civil rights abuses, and certainly not become part of the problem. Where there are gaps in understanding the law, the EEOC is here to help.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.