Telemarketing Company Punished Women for Complaining About Misconduct, Federal Agency Charges
MEMPHIS – A Germantown, Tenn.-based telemarketing company violated federal law by subjecting a class of women employees to sexual harassment and unlawful retaliation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Civil Action No. 2:09-cv-02203, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee at Memphis, Mid-American Specialties, Inc. allowed its managers to subject sales and marketing representatives Jennifer Looney, Karen Wingate, and a class of other women to rampant sexual harassment. Further, the EEOC said, the company failed to properly investigate complaints about this misconduct, and after one female sales representative complained, she was forced to quit. Two other female marketing representatives were fired in retaliation for their complaints.
This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harassment based on sex and retaliation against those who complain about it. The EEOC filed
suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction prohibiting such discrimination in the future, and to order Mid-American to pay Looney,
Wingate, and females as a class any pay they lost as a result of the discrimination, interest on the lost pay, compensatory damages for emotional and psychological harm, and any other damages.
“In this case, the company ignored the complaints of the women because they allegedly involved management officials,” said Katharine Kores, the EEOC’s Memphis district director. “Then the company made the situation worse by punishing the victims. Harassment and retaliation are unlawful under federal law, and the EEOC takes a special interest in incidents where the company retaliates against a victim of harassment who complains about the discrimination.”
Mid-America Specialties, a telemarketing company selling advertising specialty items, opened in September 1993 and is located in Germantown, a suburb of Memphis. The company distributes promotional products and office supplies to private as well as government offices nationwide and employs approximately 110 people.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.