Cashier in Canton Grocery Store Sexually Harassed by Manager, Federal Agency Charged
GREENVILLE, Miss. - A Canton, Miss., grocery store violated federal law by subjecting a female employee to ongoing sexual harassment, including sexual assault, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed September 17, 2015.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit against Potter and Sims, Inc., doing business as Save-A-Lot, the store manager subjected cashier Sharon Bennett to severe and pervasive sexual harassment. The EEOC charged that the store manager regularly engaged in harassing behavior, including inappropriate comments, display of sexually explicit photos and offers to exchange workplace benefits for sex. The manager's physical and verbal advances culminated in his sexual assault of Bennett, the EEOC said. After Bennett informed the store owner of the sexual harassment and assault, the employer took no corrective action.
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and requires an employer to prevent and promptly correct sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Potter & Sims, Inc., Civil Action No. 4:15-cv-00129) in the Greenville division of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensation for emotional distress and punitive damages, as well as an injunction to prevent future discrimination.
"All employees have a right to a work environment free of harassment based on sex," said EEOC Regional Attorney C. Emanuel Smith. "Federal anti-discrimination law exists to protect workers from this kind of abuse and the EEOC will continue to aggressively pursue remedies for victims of it."
Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director for the EEOC's Birmingham District, said, "Employers must take responsibility for the conduct of their supervisors and act promptly to rectify harassment of their workers on any basis. Potter and Sims failed in its duty to comply with the law, so we took action."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC's Birmingham District Office has jurisdiction for most of Mississippi, Alabama, and part of Florida (including Pensacola). Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.