Murfreesboro Store Fired Employee for Protesting Sexual Harassment, Federal Agency Charges
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – HHGregg, Inc., a retail chain for consumer electronics and home appliances, violated federal law by firing an employee for protesting sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on September 14, 2010.
The EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No.3:10-cv-00861 filed in U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division) alleges that hhgregg, operating a store in Murfreesboro, Tenn., fired the employee, an assistant manager, because she complained about sexual harassment by the general manager. The employee was then disciplined 12 times in the next three and a half months and terminated for “continued poor performance.” Before she complained about sexual harassment, the EEOC said, the employee had been given positive evaluations and had never been disciplined during her approximately four and a half years of service. The EEOC asserted that these “disciplinary actions” were clearly pretexts for retaliating against her because of her complaints.
Retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
“Title VII and Supreme Court precedent provide that employees have a right to complain about practices they believe are unlawful without repercussions,” said Katharine W. Kores, director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office. “The former employee sought to assert that right and was discharged less than four months later, even though she had worked for more than four years without any problems. Retaliation cases like this remain a concern for the EEOC, and we will keep fighting this kind of unlawful conduct by employers.”
According to company information, hhgregg, Inc. is a Delaware corporation and specialty retailer of consumer electronics and home appliances in 15 states at 168 locations.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.