Federal Agency Says Company Terminated Employee After She Refused to Have Sex With Supervisor
ATLANTA - Coastal Motors, Inc., d/b/a Savannah Toyota, will pay $30,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In October of 2013, Taylor Williams, a woman, was hired to work at Savannah Toyota as an assistant to Eric Williams, an automobile salesman. Taylor Williams (no relation) worked at the dealership, using dealership equipment, contacting dealership customers, and assisting Eric Williams and the dealership in selling its inventory of new vehicles. After just a few weeks of work, Eric Williams propositioned Taylor Williams, asking her for sexual favors. When she refused, he terminated her by texting to her cell phone, EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination and harassment, including discrimination against employees for refusing to have sex with their supervisors. EEOC filed suit on Jan. 21, 2015 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Savannah Division (Civil Action No. 4:15-cv-00014) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The consent decree settling the suit, in addition to monetary relief for the employee, includes provisions for equal employment opportunity training, reporting, and postings.
Savannah Toyota denied that it acted unlawfully in making its decision, but agreed to the settlement. As a result of the settlement, Williams will receive $30,000 and Savannah Toyota has committed to following the proscriptions of Title VII in the future, to post a notice of its commitment to anti-discrimination law, and not to retaliate against any employee who participated in the case in any way.
"Title VII protects all employees against demands for sex as a condition of their jobs. The Commission is committed to protecting employees from such misconduct," said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of EEOC's Atlanta District Office.
According to Robert Dawkins, EEOC regional attorney in Atlanta, "Despite significant progress, there are still employers who see employees as sexual opportunities. The law is clear: Employers cannot terminate employees for rejecting their boss's sexual demands."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.