Women Subjected to Explicit Sexual Remarks and Threats, Federal Agency Charges
LAS VEGAS – Lakemont Homes Inc., a major real estate development, construction, and management group in California and Nevada, violated federal law by subjecting a class of women to a hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and retaliation for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Elizabeth Michelle Blackburn was subjected to sexual harassment while working as an assistant sales agent at Lakemont Homes’ facility in Reno, Nev. The EEOC says that from September 2003, when she began as an assistant sales agent, until January 2006, Blackburn faced verbal and physical harassment from the lead sales agent and retaliation from the sales manager. The lead sales agent repeatedly made sexually explicit remarks to Blackburn, asked her to have sex with him, and threatened her life with a gun in March 2005, the EEOC asserts. After complaining about the sexual harassment, Blackburn was retaliated against when the sales manager denied her a promotion and made her share her commission with another employee. Finally, Blackburn was forced to quit due to the harassment and retaliation. The EEOC’s investigation also found that a class of women was subjected to a hostile work environment, sexually harassment, and retaliation.
All this alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed the suit (EEOC v. Lakemont Homes Inc., Civil Action No. 3:09-CV-00335) in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court. The EEOC seeks lost wages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief to prevent and correct any future workplace discrimination.
“The EEOC will aggressively enforce laws prohibiting sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace,” said Regional Attorney Anna Y. Park, whose Los Angeles District has jurisdiction for Las Vegas and other parts of Nevada.
Lucy Orta, the EEOC’s Las Vegas Local Director, said, “Upon notification of sexual abuse, employers have a responsibility to promptly investigate and correct any problems. When, as in this case, an employer fails to take effective steps to prevent and correct workplace discrimination and retaliates against the employee, the EEOC must and will hold that employer accountable.”
According to company information, Lakemont Homes, headquartered in Roseville, Calif. and Reno, Nev., is a full-service real estate development, construction, and management group specializing in land acquisition, community planning & design, land entitlements, and infrastructure development for residential and mixed-use real estate projects.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.