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PRESS RELEASE
7-1-10

EEOC Sues La Crosse Pharmacy for Sex Harassment

Pinnacle Pharmacy Failed to Protect Female Employees from Harasser, Federal Agency Charged

MADISON, Wis. – Omnicare, Inc., doing business as Pinnacle Pharmacy, violated federal law by subjecting a class of women to a sexually hostile work environment in its La Crosse, Wis., location, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, (EEOC v. Omnicare, Inc. d/b/a Pinnacle Pharmacy, Case No. 10-cv-364), filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, the La Crosse pharmacy manager engaged in repeated, egregious acts of sexual harassment toward female employees, such as unwelcome touching that included approaching female employees from behind and grinding his crotch on them, and making sexually explicit and demeaning comments to female employees.

Several of the women complained repeatedly about the sexual harassment, but Pinnacle Pharmacy failed to assist them, the EEOC reported. Instead, the agency said, company officials accused the women of misunderstanding the manager, ordered them to return to work and to stay away from the harasser.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to harass employees based on sex, including sexual harassment, and prohibits retaliation against someone who complains about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The agency seeks injunctive relief to end the discriminatory practices, plus back pay and compensatory and punitive damages and other relief to compensate the victims for their monetary losses and emotional pain and suffering and to deter the company from future civil rights violations.

"Every company has a duty to protect its employees from sexual harassment in its workplace, especially when it calls for remedial action against a sexual harasser who is, as in this case, a supervisor,” EEOC Regional Attorney John C. Hendrickson noted. “It’s uncivilized and unlawful, and the EEOC will never flag in combating such misconduct.”

EEOC Chicago District Office Director John P. Rowe said, "No employee should have to silently endure this type of offensive sexual conduct in order to keep a job. Employees have a right to work in an environment free of sexual harassment. Employers who ignore their employees’ complaints about harassment can expect to see the EEOC in their future.”

The EEOC’s legal team in its Milwaukee Area Office will conduct the litigation under the management of the agency’s Chicago District Office. The Chicago office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, North and South Dakota with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.