Facility Failed to Protect Workers From Abusive Patients, Federal Agency Charges
HOUSTON – A Houston-area home health care provider violated federal law by failing to protect its workers from sexual harassment by a patient, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, (Civil Action No 4:10-cv-03484), filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Defendant Beacon Hill Investments Corp., doing business as Synergy Home Care, failed to prevent Tammie Bush, Verndette Hosea and other employees from being sexually harassed by a patient. On or about April 2008, a patient assigned by Synergy to the care of Bush and Hosea began sexually harassing them, the EEOC said. The harassment, which included groping them while they slept in their private quarters, continued even after they and other employees complained about the patient’s sexual harassment to several company officials. The EEOC said the harassment became so severe that Bush and Hosea were forced to quit their jobs in about June 2008.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the company from engaging in employment discrimination and retaliation, as well as back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages.
“Sexual harassment is a form of psychological abuse that undermines an employee’s ability to work, affecting her productivity and morale,” said R.J. Ruff, director of the EEOC’s Houston District Office.
EEOC Regional Attorney Jim Sacher said, “If employees are not protected from sexual harassment at the hands of a company’s clients, Congress’s commitment to a fair workplace will be flaunted.”
Anyone who believes he or she has been subjected to a discriminatory employment practice is encouraged to contact the EEOC’s Houston District Office at (713) 209 3372 or visit its downtown Houston location on the sixth floor of the Mickey Leland Federal Building at 1919 Smith Street, Houston, Texas 77002.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Additional information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s website at http://www.eeoc.gov.