SAN FRANCISCO — A Central Valley mental health rehabilitation center has agreed to provide $25,000 and other relief to settle a federal lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that Delhi, Calif.-based California Psychiatric Transitions, Inc. (CPT) fired a male employee in retaliation for helping his female co-workers to oppose sexual harassment at the center.
This is the second lawsuit brought by the EEOC against the center. The first, which alleged sexual harassment, settled last year for $145,000 on behalf of nine female employees.
The EEOC filed its initial lawsuit against CPT in 2006, asserting that a supervisor subjected women employees to a constant barrage of crude sexual comments and unwelcome physical touching. The supervisor’s harassment lasted for nearly five years total, and included boasts about his sexual prowess and activities, frequent remarks about women’s breasts, and derogatory epithets for women.
The second suit asserted that CPT fired Audel Mendoza, who was the boyfriend (and now husband) of one of the women who had complained about the harassment. This occurred just days after an EEOC investigator contacted the center to arrange an on-site inspection of the facility and interviews of witnesses.
Under the most recent settlement, CPT has agreed to pay Mendoza $25,000. In addition, the new consent decree requires the center to, among other things, refrain from future retaliation against its employees or former employees, to purge Mendoza’s personnel file of any reference to either lawsuit, and to provide a neutral reference for him.
Retaliation against an employee -- for opposing discrimination, assisting others in filing charges, or participating in an EEOC investigations or subsequent lawsuit as a witness -- violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as California laws. The EEOC filed this suit (EEOC v. California Psychiatric Transitions, Inc., 1:08-CV-01478-SKO) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, after a neutral investigation conducted by EEOC Investigator Malinda Tuazon found misconduct had occurred, and after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
"After charges of sexual harassment were filed, CPT fired Mr. Mendoza but continued to employ the alleged harasser,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “We believe that CPT fired Mr. Mendoza because it did not want him to be in a position to testify about any ongoing harassment against female employees still working at the facility. This is plainly illegal, and the EEOC took appropriate action with a successful result.”
EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado added, “It is crucial that employees are able to stand up against harassment or discrimination without fear that the employer will punish them for speaking out. The EEOC will vigorously defend those employees against retaliation by their employer.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination and retaliation. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.