Owner and Manager Engaged in Severe Sexual Harassment of Female Employees, Retaliated Against Those Who Complained, Federal Agency Charges
MIAMI - McWhite's Funeral Home of Fort Lauderdale will pay $85,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, sole owner and manager Albert McWhite, Sr., subjected female employees to constant egregious sexual harassment, creating a work environment permeated with sexual innuendo, unwanted touching and sexual overtures. McWhite encouraged an environment that condoned harassment, which included showing female employees pictures on his cellphone of naked women engaged in sex acts; putting his hand on his crotch and asking a female employee about wanting to take "care of her bills"; making explicit requests for sexual favors of female employees; and engaging in unwanted and, at times, violent touching of female employees, including grabbing breasts and buttocks, and slapping a female employee across the face.
McWhite also retaliated against current and former employees by cutting employee hours or giving negative references to prospective employers, EEOC said. In one case, McWhite misused his personal relationship with a probation officer to intimidate a female employee, on probation for a pre-existing matter unrelated to her employment, who was attempting to seek assistance from EEOC.
Sexual harassment, constructive termination based on sex and retaliation violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed this suit (EEOC v. McWhite's Funeral Home, Inc., Case 0:15-cv-61997-JIC) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Division, following an investigation, and after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Under the consent decree resolving EEOC's claims, McWhite's Funeral Home will pay $85,000 to be distributed among the harassment and retaliation victims. McWhite's has also agreed to retain an independent equal employment opportunity consultant to receive and investigate complaints of sex discrimination. Such complaints will also be reported to EEOC. McWhite's also agreed to create a sexual harassment policy to address the sexual harassment at issue in this lawsuit. The company owner and employees will receive training on anti-discrimination laws, specifically sexual harassment, and a notice will be posted to notify employees of this lawsuit and of their rights.
"Albert McWhite, Sr.'s sexual harassment of female employees was constant and overt," said EEOC Miami Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg. "The objective of this settlement is to change the culture of this workplace, allowing female employees to work without stress and fear of enduring sexual harassment and retaliation."
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.