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Press Release 03-28-2019

HELP USA to Pay $150,000 to Settle EEOC Sex Harassment Suit

Housing  Provider Allowed Harassment of Female Employees to Go Unchecked, Federal  Agency Charged

NEW YORK - HELP USA, Inc., a nationwide provider of housing  and support services, will pay $150,000 and furnish other relief to settle a  lawsuit for sexual harassment filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, a supervisor at the company's Morris Avenue location in  the Bronx regularly directed unwelcome sexual advances to female employees,  made sexually offensive comments, and ogled women in the workplace. He also  treated female subordinates in a verbally abusive manner, shouting at them and  belittling them and their work. One employee's repeated complaints about the supervisor's  conduct went unheeded for months. A manager responded to one such complaint dismissively,  stating that the supervisor engaging in the harassment was just being  "playful."

Such conduct  violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits  discrimination - including harassment - because of sex. Sex harassment may  include conduct that is openly sexual in nature, such as overtly sexual or  sexist comments or behavior. It may also include hostile or abusive treatment  that is not overtly sexual in nature but is targeted at members of one sex. The  EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New  York (EEOC v. HELP USA, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-07598) after first  attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation  process.

"The EEOC is committed to eradicating sexual harassment in  the workplace," said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. "We will  continue to fight that kind of harmful misconduct everywhere we can."

Under the consent decree resolving the  lawsuit, HELP USA will pay $150,000 in damages to the harassment victims. It also requires  HELP USA to maintain and distribute anti-discrimination policies to employees and to provide training to all employees at its Morris Avenue  location. Additionally, any complaints of Title VII discrimination made by HELP  USA employees, such as harassment complaints, will be reported to the EEOC.

Kevin Berry, Director of the EEOC's New York District Office,  said, "Federal law clearly prohibits sexual harassment. The EEOC will continue  to ensure that employers take this kind of abuse seriously -- and employee  complaints about it."

The New York District Office of the EEOC is responsible for  processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct  of agency litigation in New York, northern New Jersey, Connecticut,  Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Preventing workplace harassment  through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national  priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

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.