Company Ignored Years of Sexual Harassment by Manager, Agency Charged
NEW YORK – Suffolk Laundry Services, Inc. created a sexually hostile work environment for female laundry workers over the course of many years and then retaliated against these women when they complained, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a federal lawsuit it filed today. The Southampton, N.Y.-based commercial laundry service provides linens to various establishments, including restaurants and hospitals on Long Island.
According to EEOC’s lawsuit, a manager physically and verbally sexually harassed multiple female laundry workers at the facility. The agency alleged that over the course of several years, the manager regularly touched women on their buttocks, hips, backs, forcibly kissed them, and made comments about their appearance and body parts. The agency also alleged that the manager subjected the women to verbal sexual harassment by conditioning requests for time off or for laundry machine repairs with demands that the women sit on his lap or kiss him. The lawsuit further charged that after discrimination charges were filed with the EEOC, Suffolk Laundry continued to permit the manager to remain in his position of authority and retaliated against women who complained by terminating them, reducing their work hours and/or altering their work assignments.
Such alleged conduct constitutes sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (12-CV-409) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks to recover compensatory damages for women who suffered sexual harassment while employed for the Suffolk Laundry Services as well as obtain injunctive relief to prevent future harassment and retaliation. The EEOC will litigate the case in partnership with LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the non-profit organization representing the seven women who filed charges.
“The EEOC stands ready to litigate sexual harassment cases when we believe that discrimination has occurred,” said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez. “And it is important that we work in partnership with organizations such as LatinoJustice that aid our efforts to ensure that the rights of victims of alleged discrimination are vindicated.”
Ami Sanghvi, a trial attorney in the New York District Office, added, “It took a great deal of courage for the women who filed charges to come forward and speak up against a manager who had power over their livelihood. The EEOC is committed to ensuring that they and other female workers need not feel as though they must silently suffer sexual harassment.”
The EEOC’s New York District Office has jurisdiction over New York, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and portions of New Jersey.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.