Two Female Employees Abused and Then Fired After Reporting the Misconduct, Federal Agency Charges
ATLANTA - Rockdale Grocery, Inc., doing business as Piggly Wiggly, violated federal law by subjecting two female workers to a sexually hostile work environment and retaliating against them for opposing the sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, a male employee made lewd sexual comments and sexual advances to two female store clerks, Cynthia Thompson and Megan Baker, at the Piggly Wiggly store in Hogansville, Ga. Thompson and Baker reported the harassment to the store manager on multiple occasions, but the company failed to take any action to stop the harassment. Instead, the company cut Baker's hours after she complained, and later fired both Thompson and Baker after they filed a written complaint detailing the harassment.
Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting the harassment. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 1:18-CV-3778-AT-JKL) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement via its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay, front pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Thompson and Baker, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future harassment and retaliation.
"Sexual harassment can only be stopped when employees stand up against it and when employers take action to stop it," said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "The EEOC will also stand with those who speak out against harassment."
EEOC Regional Attorney Antonette Sewell explained, "Employers must show they take complaints of sexual harassment seriously, rather than punish those who report it. Failing to discipline harassers and firing those who report harassment shows blatant disregard for the law. Here, Rockdale Grocery, responded unlawfully to Thompson's and Baker's complaints when it made the decision to fire them after receiving their complaints. Employers only make a bad situation worse - especially for themselves - when they punish discrimination victims instead of stopping the abuse."
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.