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Press Release 06-13-2019

Hat World and Genesco Sued By EEOC for Retaliation

Companies Fired a Store Manager Who Reported Sexual Harassment and Filed a Charge With the EEOC, Federal Agency Charges

NORFOLK, Va. - Hat World, Inc. d/b/a "Lids" and Genesco, Inc., former owner of Hat World, violated federal law by retaliating against a store manager who reported sexual harassment and filed a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, in early 2016 and early to mid-2017, Jalesa Staton, store manager of the Greenbrier Square "Lids" location, made written complaints to corporate human resources for Hat World and Genesco that she was being sexually harassed by her district manager. Following the 2017 complaints, Staton was disciplined and involuntarily transferred to the Military Circle "Lids" location. In May 2017, Staton made another discrimination complaint and filed a dis­crimination charge with the EEOC. The EEOC's complaint charges that the companies fired Staton shortly after she filed the EEOC charge because she filed the charge.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who engage in activity protected under Title VII, including complaining about alleged discrimination or filing EEOC charges. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division (EEOC v. Hat World, Inc. d/b/a Lids, et al., Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00314) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

"A company's ability to provide a work environment free of unlawful harassment is absolutely dependent on its employees being able report harassment or file an EEOC charge without hesitation," said EEOC Regional Attorney Lynette Barnes. "Every time an employee complaint about harassment, be it formal or informal, leads to discipline and discharge, the entire work environment is placed at risk."

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.