The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Insurance Company Demoted Employee for Reporting Sexual Harassment Complaint, Federal Agency Charges

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Los Angeles-based insurance company that services policyholders in 12 states violated federal law by demoting an employee for opposing sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company employed William Barringer as an associate sales manager in its Charlotte, N.C., facility. In late December 2006, Barringer reported a complaint of sexual harassment that he had received from an employee he supervised to a vice president and agency director of Golden State. The suit further alleges that Barringer informed the alleged harasser, who was Barringer’s supervisor, that he reported the complaint. On January 30, 2007, Golden State demoted Barringer to the position of sales associate in retaliation for reporting the complaint of sexual harassment, according to the EEOC.

Such retaliation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, Civil Action No. 3:09cv00105) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

The lawsuit seeks monetary relief for Barringer and an injunction enjoining Golden State from engaging in retaliation against employees based on their opposition to unlawful employment practices or employment practices which the employee reasonably believes to be unlawful under the federal EEO statutes enforced by the EEOC.

“Employees should be confident that they can make their employers aware of violations of federal anti-discrimination laws without fear of reprisal,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “The anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII are indispensable to the attainment of a workplace free of discrimination.”

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

This page was last modified on March 16, 2009.

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