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Big Lots Store Of Fort Smith Sued By EEOC For Sexual Harassment

Store Failed to Stop Store Manager’s Abuse Toward Class of Women, Federal Agency Charges

LITTLE  ROCK, Ark. – A Big Lots store in Fort Smith, Ark.,  violated federal law by subjecting a class of female employees to sexual  harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in  a lawsuit it filed today.

The EEOC’s  suit (Case No. 2:11-CV-02184-PKH filed in U.S. District Court for the Western  District of Arkansas, Fort Smith Division), asserts that Big Lots failed to  take action to stop a store manager from sexually harassing women after they  complained about his conduct. The EEOC  alleges that the former store manager made inappropriate sexual comments and  requests for sexual favors.

Sexual harassment violates Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The  EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The suit seeks monetary relief in the form of  back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, reinstatement and an injunction  against future discrimination.

The EEOC has asked the court to  grant a permanent injunction enjoining Big Lots from engaging in any further  employment practice that discriminates against female employees because of  their gender. The EEOC has also asked  the court to provide compensatory and punitive damages for the harassment  victims and any other relief the court deems necessary and proper.

“Companies must take effective  action to enforce their sexual harassment policies to ensure that the workplace  is free of sexual harassment,” said Katharine W. Kores, district director of  the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and  portions of Mississippi. “It is not enough to have a policy – the  policy must be effective and enforced.  In this case, Big Lot’s policy was ineffective and caused harm to many  women.”

According to company information,  Big Lots Stores, Inc. is America’s  largest broad-line closeout retailer with more than 33,000 employees located in  more than 1,380 retail stores and five distribution centers in 47 states.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination. Further information about  the EEOC is available on its web site at