Manager and Supervisor Made Repeated Sexual Comments and Exposed Private Parts to Female Employees, Federal Agency Charges
FLORENCE, S.C. - HM Solutions, Inc., a Greenville, S.C.-based company that provides commercial and industrial janitorial services, violated federal law when it subjected four female employees to a sexually hostile work environment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed July 22, 2019. The EEOC's lawsuit also alleges that HM Solutions further violated federal law by discharging the four female employees because they did not acquiesce to sexual harassment or because they complained about the sexually hostile work environment.
According to the EEOC's complaint, between 2015 and 2017, Sharon Cooper, Tarrell Hudson, Tiffany Moultrie, and Shermiah Townsend worked for HM Solutions at a battery recycling facility in Florence, S.C., performing general housekeeping tasks and cleaning contaminated areas. The EEOC alleges that at various times during each woman's employment, the women were subjected to sexual harassment by an HM Solutions account manager and a shift supervisor, both male. The alleged sexual harassment included sexual comments, repeated exposing of genitals, and requests for sex and oral sex. The EEOC contends that some of the sexually harassing behavior was observed by other supervisors, who took no action to stop the sexual harassment.
The EEOC further charged that the four female employees repeatedly complained about the ongoing sexual harassment, but that the abuse continued. According to the EEOC's suit, Cooper, Hudson, Moultrie and Townsend were each ultimately discharged by HM Solutions for not acquiescing to the sexual harassment or in retaliation for complaining about it.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from sex discrimination, including sexual harassment. Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Florence Division (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. HM Solutions, Inc., Civil Action No. 4:19-cv-02043-DCC-KDW) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary relief, including back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages, as appropriate, for the four female employees, as well as injunctive relief.
"Sexual comments and egregious sexual conduct like that alleged in this lawsuit are deplorable and have no place in the workplace," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "The EEOC takes a strong stance in protecting employees from sexual harassment. An employer has an obligation to prevent and correct such misconduct in the workplace. When an employer attempts to actively dissuade employees from complaining about harassment as alleged in this case, it commits a very serious violation of employees' federally protected rights. The EEOC will prosecute cases where this kind of abuse occurs."
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.