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Press Release 09-22-2021

Charles W. Smith Funeral Homes Sued by EEOC for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Owner Subjected Three Female Employees to Verbal and Physical Harassment and Punished Them for Complaining About It, Federal Agency Charges

DALLAS — Charles W. Smith Funeral Homes, Inc., which operates funeral homes in the greater Dallas area, violated federal law by subjecting three female workers to sex harassment and other adverse employment actions for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Charles Smith, the owner and funeral director, subjected three female employees to a hostile work environment at the company’s Sachse, Texas, mortuary. Smith made numerous crude sexual comments and sexual propositions to the women and subjected them to unwelcome physical touching. He also offered money for sexual acts, the EEOC said. Even after the sexual harassment was reported to other supervisors and managers, no responsive or remedial actions were taken. Instead, one of the female employees was removed from the work schedule following her report of sex harassment and the other two were forced to resign, the agency charged.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment, and retaliation for complaining about it. The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 4:21-cv-00731, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In this case, the EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief, including an order barring Charles W. Smith Funeral Homes from engaging in sexual harassment and discrimination in the future.

“This case represents a disturbing example of a serial sexual harasser repeatedly preying on female employees and expecting get away with it due to his ownership of the business,” said Joel Clark, a senior trial attorney in the EEOC’s Dallas district office. “The EEOC will prosecute employers like this one to protect the most basic civil rights of women in the workplace.”

Suzanne Anderson, acting regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas district, added, “The harassment of these workers was particularly egregious because the owner often approached them when they were alone in the mortuary or the funeral home. Their complaints about the harassment were completely ignored and supervisors told them to be careful not to be around the owner without others around. Then the company made a bad situation worse by punishing the harassment victims. That response to complaints of inappropriate comments and conduct in the workplace is not only inappropriate, but unlawful, and the EEOC is here to fight against such misconduct.”

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.