Facility Ignored Complaints of Sexual Harassment and Terminated the Employees Who Complained, Agency Charges
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Happy Valley LLC d/b/a Happy Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation in Malvern, Ark., violated federal law when it failed to address sexual harassment complaints made by female employees and then terminated those employees for complaining of the harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the company received reports of the harassment as early as May 2016 and as recent as May 2018. The EEOC alleges that it was common knowledge among Happy Valley employees that if one complained about sexual harassment, the company would terminate the employee. Rather than punishing the harasser, the company would punish those who complained. As a result, several employees decided not to report the harassment for fear of losing their jobs. Although the company informed the women who did report harassment that it would take action, the company failed to take any action against the harasser. The EEOC alleges in its complaint that Happy Valley allowed the employee's harassment to go unchecked.
Sexual harassment and retaliation violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas Hot Springs Division, Civil Action No. 6:18-cv-06089, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, compensation for lost benefits, and an injunction against future discrimination.
"While the #MeToo movement has brought sexual harassment to the forefront in the media, the EEOC has been working to combat this type of discrimination since the Commission's inception and the issuance of guidelines in 1980 stating that sexual harassment is prohibited under Title VII," said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC's Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and portions of Mississippi. "Further, an employer cannot punish an employee for reporting the unlawful harassment."
Happy Valley operates a nursing care facility in Malvern, Arkansas.
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.