Supervisors Openly Subjected Both Female & Male Staff to Constant Sexual Propositions, Graphic Pictures, Foul Language & Groping, Says Federal Agency
LOS ANGELES - VXI Global Solutions, a provider of call center services for major nationwide companies, violated federal law when it failed to stop and remedy the widespread sexual harassment of both female and male workers by company supervisors, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. The EEOC also alleged that the Los Angeles-based company retaliated against employees who reported the harassment.
A class of female and male call center staff endured an extremely hostile work environment perpetuated by a male floor manager and other supervisors since about 2009, according to the EEOC. Females were subjected to unsolicited groping and touching, constant sexual propositions, and grotesque comments of a sexual nature. The EEOC also contends that a female assistant supervisor made repeated advances toward male staff with foul descriptions of proposed sexual activity, unwanted lap dances and physical rubbing. Male employees who refused to participate were subjected to unlawful gender stereotyping in that they were accused of being gay because of their objection to the harasser's behavior.
The floor manager also allegedly threatened and intimidated both female and male staff to prevent complaints. Numerous attempts to report the harassment to human resources personnel were stymied by their lack of availability. Once VXI Global's supervisors and/or human resources personnel were eventually advised of the harassment, several of the alleged victims were subsequently disciplined and terminated in retaliation between 2010 and 2011.
All this alleged sexual harassment, gender stereotyping and retaliation violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in 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), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the class of victims, along with injunctive relief to prevent and address future harassment and retaliation.
"A hostile work environment destroys morale and productivity," said Rosa Viramontes, acting district director for the EEOC's Los Angeles District. "Retaliation against workers who report such harassment - which is illegal under federal law - only further corrodes the working environment, creating a chilling effect on the rest of the workforce."
Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District, added, "Ignoring complaints of harassment can quickly grow into an epidemic. Employers who fail to provide meaningful preventive and corrective measures to address harassment in its early stage risk greater systemic problems - and broader liability."
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.