EEOC Settlement Resolves Claims for African American and Latino Employees Who Were Targets of Constant Sexual Propositions, Graphic Pictures, & Foul Language
LOS ANGELES - VXI Global Solutions, a provider of call center services for major nationwide companies, will pay $600,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
EEOC filed suit against the company in September 2014, alleging that beginning in 2009 two classes of employees (female and male) endured a hostile work environment, created by at least 13 harassers, including male and female supervisors. Female employees were subjected to unsolicited groping and touching, constant or continued sexual propositioning, and grotesque comments of a sexual nature by male supervisors. EEOC also contends that male employees were subjected to repeated sexual advances with foul descriptions of proposed sexual activity, unwanted lap dances and physical rubbing by female supervisors. Male employees who refused to participate were targets of unlawful gender stereotyping when they were accused of being gay because of their objection to the harasser's behavior.
Supervisors also allegedly threatened and intimidated the staff to prevent complaints. Numerous attempts to report the harassment to human resources personnel were stymied by their lack of availability. After VXI Global Solutions' supervisors and/or human resources personnel were eventually advised of the harassment, several of the alleged victims were subsequently disciplined and terminated in retaliation.. In its lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California (EEOC v. VXI Global Solutions, Inc. a/k/a, VXI Global Solutions, LLC, Case No. 2:14-cv-07444), EEOC alleged that the sexual harassment, gender stereotyping and retaliation violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In addition to the monetary relief, VXI Global Solutions agreed to retain an equal employment opportunity consultant to revise the company's policies and procedures with respect to sexual harassment and retaliation; and to provide training in those areas to all employees nationwide along with additional training for management and human resources personnel on how to effectively deal with such complaints. They also agreed to maintain a centralized system to track internal sexual harassment and retaliation complaints; conduct surveys at company sites in Los Angeles, Texas and Ohio; and to post a notice on the matter at the Los Angeles site. EEOC will monitor compliance with the four-year consent decree.
"Employers must take more proactive steps to address complaints of sexual harassment. It is also illegal under federal law to retaliate against employees who exercise their right to report harassment or discrimination. We commend Global VXI Solutions for putting aggressive measures in place as laid out in the Consent Decree" said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District.
Rosa Viramontes, district director for EEOC's Los Angeles District, added, "Sexual harassment continues to be a persistent problem in the workplace and a priority for EEOC. Workers should not have to endure a hostile work environment because of their sex which, if unchecked, is a violation of federal law."
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). To address workplace harassment, EEOC is collaborating with our partners on a Select Task Force on Harassment. Led by EEOC Commissioners Chai R. Feldblum and Victoria A. Lipnic, the task force is working with employers, workers and academics to identify the underlying causes of harassment and develop innovative solutions.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.