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EmCare Sued By EEOC For Sexual Harassment And Retaliation

Physician Outsourcing Group Fired Women for Complaining About Misconduct, Federal Agency Charges

DALLAS -- A provider of physician  services that has contracts with hospitals in over 40 states violated federal  law by subjecting a female employee to sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The EEOC also charged that the company  unlawfully fired the woman and two co-workers in retaliation for their complaints.

According  to the EEOC's lawsuit against Dallas-based EmCare, Inc., executive assistant  Gloria Stokes was subjected to sexually explicit remarks from the CEO of one of  EmCare's divisions throughout her employment.  The EEOC said that this behavior included comments about female  employees' breasts, derogatory references to women and sexual jokes. Stokes did not have an effective outlet for  complaining about the misconduct because she had heard members of the human  resources department stating that they did not want employees coming to them  with complaints. Stokes was fired  shortly after she told the harasser that she did not believe his conduct was  appropriate.

In  addition to Stokes’ charges, the EEOC also alleged in its lawsuit that EmCare retaliated  against two other employees who complained to the human resources department  about the inappropriate sexual comments and behavior of the division CEO. Very shortly after lodging their complaints  with human resources, these individuals were terminated. The EEOC maintains that they were fired in  retaliation for their opposition to the sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment and retaliation  for complaining about it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of  1964. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action  No. 3:11-cv-02017-P in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of  Texas) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its  conciliation process. The EEOC seeks  back pay and front pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief  to ensure that no further harassment will occur there.

“This is the kind of situation in  which liability for violations of Title VII can mushroom because of the employer’s  own actions,” said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas  District Office. “Attempts to sweep  discrimination under the carpet by removing witnesses from the workplace can be  a costly strategy if the EEOC finds the victims when the dust finally  settles.”

EEOC Trial Attorney Meaghan Shepard  said, “Too often it seems that people in positions of power believe that they  can behave however they wish with impunity.  In this instance, not only was the bad actor able to conduct himself in  a sexually inappropriate fashion, but the company stifled the voices of those  employees who chose to speak out in opposition to his unlawful conduct. All employees in the work force have the  right under federal law to complain about behavior that they believe to be  against the law without subsequently facing discipline or termination.”

In Fiscal Year 2010, 11,717 sexual  harassment charges were filed with the EEOC and state and local  anti-discrimination agencies.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination. Further information  about the EEOC is available on its web site at