The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Agency Says PawnMart, Inc. Fired Employee for Complaining About Store Manager’s Unwanted Sexual Advances

ATLANTA – An Atlanta-area pawn shop chain violated federal law when it fired a female employee in retaliation for complaining about a manager’s intimidating and sexually harassing conduct, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Case No. 1:09-CV-2704.

According to the EEOC’s suit against PawnMart, Inc., Alicia Cornell, an assistant store manager at PawnMart’s 5966 Fairburn Road, location in Douglasville, Ga., was subjected to both threatening and sexually charged comments by the store’s manager. The EEOC alleges Cornell complained to upper management about her supervisor’s behavior. Within days of Cornell’s complaint, her supervisor began retaliating against her by placing her under increasingly intense scrutiny, refusing to allow her to take lunch breaks, and, finally, having her fired.

Retaliation for complaining about discriminatory conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the harmed employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

“The EEOC’s investigation revealed that Ms. Cornell would not have been fired had she not complained about her supervisor’s harassing behavior in the workplace,” said Robert Dawkins, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The law gives employers an opportunity to address complaints of discrimination that their employees bring to their attention. Fortunately, the law also protects those employees who complain about discriminatory conduct from retaliation.”

According to company information, PawnMart, Inc. provides loans on consumer products, as well as the purchase and resell of pre-owned consumer products. The company operates 26 stores in the Atlanta area and employs approximately 100-200 employees.

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 September 30, 2009.

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