Owner Subjected Female Employees to Unwanted Touching, Overtures and Retaliated Against Women Who Did Not Acquiesce, Federal Agency Charges
MIAMI - A Fort Lauderdale, Fla., funeral home violated federal law by subjecting at least five women to sexual harassment and retaliating against two of the women for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to EEOC's suit, sole owner and manager Albert McWhite subjected female employees to constant egregious sexual harassment, creating a work environment permeated with sexual innuendo, unwanted touching and sexual overtures. The harassment included showing female employees pictures on his phone of naked women and of himself engaged in sex acts, putting his hand on his crotch and asking a female employee about wanting to take "care of her bills," and touching female employees on the breasts and buttocks. The lawsuit also alleges that McWhite retaliated against a former employee after she filed an EEOC charge by providing negative references to her prospective employers. He also allegedly retaliated against another employee after she refused to provide a supportive statement for him in conjunction with an EEOC investigation when he reduced her hours and attempted to tamper with her probation proceedings.
Subjecting employees to persistent and egregious sexual comments and conduct because of their sex, and retaliating against those who engage in protected activity to put a stop to such misconduct, violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The lawsuit, EEOC v. McWhite Funeral Home, Inc., (Case No. 0:15-cv-61997 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida), seeks compensatory and punitive damages for all named claimants and a class of people subjected to the sexually hostile work environment and retaliation, back pay for two of the named claimants, and injunctive relief ordering the company to stop the harassing conduct, among other types of injunctive relief.
"This case presents horrible sexual harassment and retaliation spearheaded by the company's sole owner and manager," said EEOC District Director Ozzie Black. "Such blatant harassment and retaliation is precisely the kind of misconduct EEOC works to stop. No employee should be forced to work in such an environment."
EEOC Regional Attorney Robert E. Weisberg added, "Ownership and management of a company does not grant an employer license to sexually mistreat female employees and to threaten and retaliate against them for objecting and reporting the behavior. That violates federal law, and EEOC will vigorously investigate and prosecute such abuses."
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.