Three Trustees Abused Bartenders, Federal Agency Charged
EAST ST. LOUIS , Ill. – Elks Lodge No. 954 in Jerseyville, Ill., will pay $107,500 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that the lodge violated federal law by sexually harassing three female bartenders and then taking reprisals against them when they complained.
In its lawsuit (Case No. 3:09-cv-00200), filed in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Illinois, the EEOC claims that Vicki Vickers, Elizabeth Stemm, and Jackie Davidson (formerly Jackie Atteberry at the time of her employment) were subjected to unlawful sexual harassment while working at Elks Lodge No. 954 by three members of the Elks’ board of trustees on numerous occasions in 2005 and 2006. The abuse included repeated unwelcome sexual advances and touching, and sexually explicit comments. The suit alleged that after victims complained about the conduct, their work hours were cut, they were assigned the least desirable shifts, and they were subjected to threats and other abusive verbal comments. Davidson was terminated, the EEOC said, and the environment became so hostile that Vickers was compelled to resign.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment or pregnancy) or national origin, and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
As part of the settlement, the Elks Lodge agreed to pay $107,500 to the former bartenders, to conduct sexual harassment training for Elks managers and employees and to report complaints of sex harassment made by Elks employees to the EEOC regional attorney for a period of three years.
“While the Elks do not admit to any wrongdoing, this settlement signals a willingness to move forward in a manner designed to prevent future sexual harassment from occurring and, if it does happen, prepare its managers to take decisive and immediate action to stop it,” said EEOC attorney Melvin Kennedy.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.