Egregious Abuse Forced Female Employees to Resign, Federal Agency Charges
KINGSTON, N.Y. - Birchez Associates, LLC and Rondout Properties Management, LLC, Kingston, N.Y.-based housing development and property management companies, violated federal law when they subjected female employees to a sexually hostile work environment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC's suit, the owner and top management official of the companies repeatedly subjected female employees to crude sexual comments. He frequently yelled at his female employees and used obscene sexist epithets. The harassment also involved unwelcome physical contact and subjecting a female employee to pornography on a cell phone. Despite repeated objections by female employees, the conduct did not stop, forcing a number of women to resign their employment in order to escape the harassment.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sex, including subjecting employees a hostile work environment based on sex. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York (EEOC v. Birchez Associates LLC and Rondout Properties Management, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-00810) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC will seek back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief. The agency's litigation effort will be led by trial attorney Sebastian Riccardi, supervised by Supervisory Trial Attorney Justin Mulaire.
"Employees have a right to work in an environment free of harassment," said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. "Sexual harassment is against the law; it is well past the day when employers can tolerate this type of conduct."
Riccardi said, "It does not matter if it is the owner of the company who is the harasser. Nobody is above the law."
EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry added, "Employees who stand up to harassment and discrimination in the workplace are heroes, and the EEOC will take action to enforce the law when egregious violations are discovered."
The New York District Office of the EEOC is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in New York, northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.