Women at La Crosse Pharmacy Endured Physical and Verbal Abuse, Agency Charged
MADISON, Wis. – Pharmacy giant Omnicare, Inc. will pay $195,000 to a class of five female sex discrimination victims under a consent decree entered by Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker on December 21, 2010 in federal court in the Western District of Wisconsin. The damages had been sought in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC had charged that a class of women was subjected to sexual harassment at Omnicare’s Pinnacle Pharmacy in La Crosse, Wis.
According to the EEOC’s suit, a pharmacy manager engaged in repeated, egregious acts of sexual harassment toward female employees, such as unwelcome touching that included approaching female employees from behind and grinding his crotch on them, and making sexually explicit and demeaning comments to female employees. According to the EEOC, women complained about the manager’s behavior repeatedly, but no action was taken by Omnicare to put a stop to it.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to harass employees based on sex, including sexual harassment, and prohibits retaliation against someone who complains about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit ( EEOC v. Omnicare, Inc. d/b/a Pinnacle Pharmacy, Case No. 10 cv 364) on June 30 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Under the terms of the two-year consent decree settling the suit, Omnicare will pay $195,000 to the class of five women. In addition to monetary damages, the decree provides for injunctive relief enjoining Omnicare from maintaining a sexually hostile work environment or engaging in retaliation. The decree also requires the company to distribute its policy against sexual harassment along with a confidential survey assessing the company’s complaint reporting system, provide annual sexual harassment training for employees, and provide periodic reports to the EEOC.
“One would think that if any workplace would be free ofegregious sexual harassment, it would be a workplace connected to health care -- like a pharmacy,” said Regional Attorney John Hendrickson of the EEOC’s Chicago District. “But this case illustrates that when it comes to sexual harassment, our expectations are often out of order and that, in fact, no workplace is immune. That’s why we were in this case and why we insisted upon the terms of the consent decree entered by the court. We trust they will make a difference going forward.”
The case was litigated by Trial Attorney Camille Monahan of the EEOC’s Milwaukee Area Office. The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
According to company information, Covington, Ky.-based Omnicare is the nation's leading provider of pharmaceutical care for seniors. Each day, Omnicare pharmacists serve more than 1.4 million residents of skilled nursing, assisted living, and other healthcare facilities in 47 states and Canada.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.