Teenage Employee Harassed by Owner and Manager
SAN JOSE, Calif. – WirelessComm, Inc., a distributor for Metro PCS, violated federal law by subjecting a teen employee to sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.
According to the EEOC, the store manager of WirelessComm’s Watsonville store subjected then 19-year-old Deisy Mora to ongoing sexual harassment. He frequently commented about her physical appearance, texted her photos of himself and the words “Te quiero” (‘I love you’ in Spanish), and referred to women in general with slurs and epithets. In addition, the store owner also contributed to the harassment, inviting Mora to travel with him, asking her and others if they were pregnant and, on one occasion, asking her to text photos of herself and other female staff members. Mora worked as a sales person and assistant manager from April 2007 until she felt forced to quit in October 2007 due to the hostile and abusive work environment, the EEOC alleged.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to harass employees based on sex. After first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement, the EEOC filed the lawsuit EEOC v. WirelessComm, Inc. (Case No. C 11-04796 HRL), in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensation for emotional distress and punitive damages, as well as an injunction to prevent further discrimination.
“Ms. Mora was a teenager at the time. As we have seen in other cases, the harassment affected her emotionally and impacted her self-esteem,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “Sexual harassment of teen employees is unacceptable. It is critically important that we protect the rights of these particularly vulnerable members of our workforce.”
EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado added, “The EEOC takes allegations of harassment very seriously, especially when the employees being harassed are teenagers. For many of these employees, this is their first job and the impact of facing discrimination can be life-altering.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.