Press Release 09-30-2020

EEOC Sues Sealy Management Company for Sex Harassment and Retaliation

Tuscaloosa Apartment Management Company Condoned a Hostile Work Environment for Female Employee and Punished Her for Complaining, Federal Agency Charges

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Sealy Management Company, Inc., a property sale, rental, and manage­ment company headquartered in Tuscaloosa, Ala., which owns and manages apartments in Alabama and three other states, violated federal law when it created a sexually hostile work environment and retaliated against a female assistant manager who complained, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commi­ssion (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the assistant manager learned that her supervisor and a co-worker were spreading false, sexually explicit rumors about her – specifically, that she had been promoted because she slept with the company president. Despite her repeated complaints to management, Sealy failed to properly investigate and took no effective remedial action. Instead, Sealy suspended the assistant manager, placed her on unpaid leave, and, after she resigned and filed an EEOC charge, informed her that it was recording her employment separation as a termination for violation of company policy.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and retaliating against employees who complain or file EEOC charges about sexual harassment.

The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Sealy Management Company, Inc., Case No. 7:20-cv-01505-LSCin U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its concili­ation process. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for the victim, including compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

“Federal law requires employers to provide a workplace free from sexual harassment and prohibits them from punishing employees for standing up for their rights,” said EEOC Birmingham District Director Bradley Anderson. “Protecting the right of employees to report inappropriate conduct and pursuing remedies for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace are important responsibilities the EEOC is charged by statute to enforce.”

Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District, said, “Sealy created and allowed a hostile work environment to exist for over a year, until the effects of this malicious rumor became too much for this victim to tolerate. Instead of taking her complaints seriously, the company disciplined her. Title VII acts as a shield against such mistreatment.”

The EEOC’s Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.

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