Press Release 09-03-2019

EEOC Sues Market America for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

 Female Warehouse Associate Subjected to Sexual Comments and Groping By Two Male Co-Workers, Then Fired Because She Complained, Federal Agency Charges

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Market America, Inc., a Greensboro, N.C.-headquartered multi-level marketing company, violated federal law when it subjected a female employee to a sexually hostile work environment and then fired her after she complained about the harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's suit, Audrey Murphy, was a warehouse associate at Market America's Greensboro distribution center from February 2012 to Sept. 10, 2018. The EEOC said that between approximately February and July 2018, two male co-workers repeatedly subjected Murphy to sexually inappropriate comments and unwanted sexual touching and groping. The EEOC's lawsuit further charged that although Murphy complained to her direct supervisor, the company failed to take effective action to stop the harassment. Ultimately, within days of Murphy complaining about unwanted physical contact from a third male co-worker, Market America fired Murphy because of her complaints about sexual harassment, the EEOC said. 

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who oppose sexual harassment or other employment practices made unlawful by that law. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Com­mis­sion v. Market America, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:19-CV-00890) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Murphy, as well as injunctive relief to prevent future harassment and retaliation in the workplace.

"The EEOC is committed to enforcing the law when employers fail to take prompt, effective action to stop sexual harassment in the workplace," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the agency's Charlotte District Office. "Employers have a duty to ensure their workplace is free from harass­ment and retaliation."

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