Women Subjected to Sexual Propositions and Touching, Threatened and Forced to Quit, Federal Agency Charged
LAS VEGAS – Real estate developer Lakemont Homes, Inc. and its subsidiary Lakemont Homes Nevada will pay $267,000 and furnish other relief to settle a class sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC originally filed suit against Lakemont in June 2009 in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada (EEOC v. Lakemont Homes Inc., Lakemont Homes Nevada, Case No. 3:09-cv-00335), alleging that four female employees of the company in Reno endured vulgar sexual comments and unwanted propositions or touching by a male lead sales agent since at least 2003. According to the EEOC, the lead agent asked at least one of the women to have sex with him, even threatening her life at gunpoint.
Despite multiple complaints to a female sales manager, no action was taken to address or halt the harassment, the EEOC said. Instead, the EEOC contends, the women were retaliated against for reporting the conduct in the form of unfavorable scheduling and poor performance evaluations. Ultimately, all of the victims were forced to quit while the harasser remained employed until 2005.
Such alleged conduct 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.
To settle the suit, the parties entered into a three-year consent decree which requires Lakemont to pay $264,000 in monetary relief to the victims and an additional $3,000 toward providing live EEO training for their staff. Aside from the monetary relief, Lakemont also agreed to appoint an EEO compliance officer to oversee the company’s policies and procedures against discrimination and retaliation; ensure proper communication of those policies to staff; monitor investigations of complaints; and ensure that employees are disciplined for misconduct under Title VII. EEOC will also monitor the handling of all harassment and retaliation complaints received by Lakemont.
“While we commend Lakemont for taking measures to resolve this matter, we hope more employers recognize that they must deal with workplace harassment quickly and effectively,” said Anna Park, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which has jurisdiction over Nevada. “Federal law requires it, and workers need not tolerate a hostile work environment.”
Adriana Lopez, acting local director of the EEOC’s Las Vegas Local Office, added, “Employees have the right to report harassment or discrimination without being retaliated against by their employer. Those that quit their jobs as a result of harassment or discrimination are also protected under the law and are entitled to remedies.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.