MIAMI - Blackwater Protection & Detective Agency, LLC will pay $35,000 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 the EEOC's lawsuit, Blackwater owner and CEO Asdel Vazquez subjected a female employee to continuous sexually charged comments and retaliated against her for rejecting his advances. Asdel Vazquez asked the female employee if she was gay and whom she found attractive at work, asked her to engage in sexual acts with him, petted her hair while she worked, and repeatedly called her at home. The employee, who was employed by Blackwater for only one week, was fired the day after she told Vazquez that she would not meet him outside of work and that she wanted to keep things professional, the EEOC said.
Sexual harassment and retaliatory termination of employment violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its suit (EEOC v. Blackwater Protection & Detective Agency et al., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-23938-DPG) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Under the consent decree resolving the EEOC's claims, Blackwater will pay $35,000 to the victim of harassment and retaliatory termination. Blackwater and its successor companies will retain an independent equal employment opportunity consultant to receive and investigate complaints of sex discrimination, create a hotline to receive anonymous complaints of harassment, and create a sexual harassment policy to address the sexual harassment at issue in this lawsuit. The decree also provides that managers and employees at Blackwater and its successor companies receive in-person training on sexual harassment policies and laws, and that Asdel Vazquez will receive one-on-one in-person training.
"Asdel Vazquez created a sexually charged work environment at Blackwater," said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert E. Weisberg. "This settlement and targeted relief seek to stop him from creating the same environment at other companies he owns and manages."
EEOC District Director Michael Farrell added, "This settlement should send a message to owners, corporate officials and upper-level managers who abuse their positions of power within a company. They are not above the laws prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace, and the EEOC will always remain vigilant in its efforts to identify and correct such abuses."
The EEOC's Miami District Office is comprised of the Miami, Tampa and San Juan EEOC offices, and has jurisdiction over Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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.