Security Provider Failed to Make Payments Agreed Upon in Litigation Settlement, Federal Agency Charges
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that it has filed a contempt action against Metro Special Police & Security Services, Inc., a Charlotte-based provider of private security and public safety services. The contempt action charges that Metro Special Police breached of the terms of an agreement it entered into with the EEOC to resolve a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit.
On Jan. 22, 2013, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Metro Special Police (EEOC v. Metro Special Police & Security Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:13-CV-39, U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina), charging that the company subjected Officers James Pedersen, Eric Steele, Daniel Griffis and a class of similarly situated male employees to sexual harassment by a male captain and a male lieutenant employed by the company. The EEOC said that the male employees were subjected to a variety of misconduct, including by the captain. The misconduct included making offensive sexual comments to his male subordinate employees; soliciting nude pictures from them; asking a male employee to undress in front of him; and soliciting male employees for sex. The captain and lieutenant also allegedly forced male employees to accompany them to a gay strip club while on duty. The complaint further charged that the captain touched the chests and genitals of some of the male employees and offered promotions to certain male employees in exchange for sex.
In settlement of the EEOC's lawsuit, the company entered into a five-year consent decree which was signed and entered by U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. on June 13, 2014. The decree required the company to pay $155,000 in relief to Pedersen, Steele, Griffis and other male employees who had been subjected to the sexual harassment to varying degrees. The decree also required that Metro Special Police provide significant non-monetary relief. For example, the company was enjoined from further discriminating on the basis of sex and was required to revise its sexual harassment policy. Metro Special Police was also required to distribute its revised sexual harassment policy to all employees and to conduct annual training on sexual harassment and retaliation. The company must also report all complaints of sexual harassment to the EEOC throughout the decree's five-year term.
The company was to make monetary payments to the victims of the sexual harassment beginning on Aug. 13, 2014. Today, the EEOC filed a motion asking the court to require Metro Special Police to show cause why it should not be held in contempt for failure to make the August payments. The company will have an opportunity to respond to the EEOC's motion prior to a hearing by the court.
"When the EEOC agrees with an employer to resolve a case, whether through litigation or its conciliation process, the agency fully expects the employer to comply with the agreement," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney in the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "The defendant in this case repeatedly ignored the EEOC's attempts to get it to comply with its agreement, and therefore the agency had no choice but to file this motion for contempt."
If Metro is found guilty of contempt, the court can enter such sanctions as it deems just and proper, including imposing a daily fine on the owners of the company until such time as the settlement payment has been made.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's website at www.eeoc.gov.