Home Health Care Company Allowed Harassment of Female Employees and Retaliated When the Women Complained, Federal Agency Charges
DENVER - JoyVida LLC, doing business as Amada Senior Care in Colorado Springs and also in Pueblo, Monument and surrounding communities, violated federal law by subjecting its employees to sexual harassment while they worked for the company, which provides in-home caregiving services, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
The EEOC alleges that Amada Senior Care allowed female employees Lemayia Pettigrew and Danielle Millar to be subjected to sexual harassment by a third party, a client's son. The EEOC charges that the women were subjected to pervasive unwelcome conduct, including unwelcome touching of their breasts and buttocks, and derogatory sexual remarks. The client's son also allegedly exposed himself to the women and touched them with his genitals. They brought this behavior to the attention of Amada Senior Care, which failed to investigate the allegations and continued to assign them to the client, creating a hostile work environment for them.
After the women complained about the harassment, Amada retaliated against Pettigrew and Millar by cutting their assigned work hours, leading to a significant loss of income. Finally, Amada retaliated against Pettigrew by firing her. Amada forced Millar to quit by reassigning her to work at the same home, where she was again harassed by the clients' son.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado (EEOC v. JoyVida LLC d/b/a Amada Senior Care, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-02026, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.
The lawsuit asks the court to order the company to provide the affected women with appropriate relief, including back wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and a permanent injunction enjoining Amada from engaging in any further gender-discriminatory practices or retaliation. The EEOC also asks the court to order the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace.
"Unfortunately, sexual harassment remains a problem affecting many employees in Colorado," said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah. "Workers in the caring professions, such as home care workers, are particularly vulnerable. Employers have a legal obligation to adequately protect their employees from sexual harassment; when they fail to do so, the EEOC will take action on those employees' behalf."
EEOC District Director Elizabeth Cadle said, "The Commission has prioritized efforts to prevent workplace harassment. In the era of the #MeToo movement, we continue to recognize the bravery of women who come forward and share the abuse they have experienced so that workplaces can be safer for all employees."
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.