Manager Harassed and Retaliated Against Women Who Refused Advances, Federal Agency Charges
SAN DIEGO - Fairbanks Ranch Country Club in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., one of 22 California private member clubs forming The Bay Club, violated federal law when it failed to prevent and redress ongoing sexual harassment of female workers, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit today.
According to the EEOC's suit, the manager at Fairbanks Ranch sexually harassed a class of female employees daily, including soliciting naked pictures from them; grabbing their buttocks; attempting to kiss them; offering an employee to male customers for lap dances; and even choking one employee. This type of behavior was so prevalent that other employees felt free to engage in sexual harassment as well, the federal agency charged.
The EEOC further charges that the manager was the sole decision maker and had the authority to hire and fire at will. He regularly abused his position by requiring sexual favors for job benefits, the federal agency contends. When the women would refuse, the manager threatened termination, or reduced their working hours. Because of this hostile work environment, some female employees felt they had no choice but to resign.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, and retaliation for reporting a claim against discrimination. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern Region of California (EEOC v. Bay Club Fairbanks Ranch, LLC, and Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, Inc., Case No.3:18-CV-01853-W-BLM), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC's suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the complainants and class members as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent Fairbanks Ranch from engaging in future discrimination, harassment or retaliation.
"Every employer has an obligation to prevent sexual harassment at its workplaces," said Anna Park, regional attorney of the EEOC's Los Angeles District, which has jurisdiction over San Diego County. "Maintaining an employee manual is not enough. Training and oversight for all staff members must become how employers ensure safety and compliance in this area of the law."
Christopher Green, director of the EEOC's San Diego Local Office added, "The allegations of this case are especially shocking, being that a manager was involved. Having ultimate hiring authority does not permit leveraging that power to take from those who work for you."
Fairbanks Ranch Country Club was acquired by Bay Club Fairbanks Ranch, LLC on July 18, 2016. Its parent corporation is BC Equity Ventures, LLC.
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
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