Press Release 09-29-2020

Oregon Veterinary Clinic Sued by EEOC for Sexual Harassment

Chief of Staff Targeted Young Female Nurse, Federal Agency Charges

PORTLAND, Ore. — Veterinary clinic Hannah’s Inc., operating as Hannah the Pet Society, violated federal law by allowing a manager to sexually harass a female nurse in her early 20s, creating conditions so intolerable that she had to quit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

Despite a history of harassment complaints against the Tigard clinic’s male chief of staff, the EEOC found that the company failed to take corrective action. His harassing conduct included asking the nurse inappropriate sexual questions and commenting on her body. He also addressed female employees with gendered pejoratives and said things such as, “shut up, woman” and “stupid woman.”

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. Hannah’s Inc., Case No. 3:20-cv-01688-BR) in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Portland Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks money damages for the female worker and injunctive relief to remedy and prevent sexual harassment from recurring.

“It took a lot of courage for this young woman to report the harassment to several top-level managers internally, as well as to the EEOC,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Carmen Flores. “All workers are entitled to work free from discrimination. It is particularly grievous when a manager exploits the power differential by targeting a young subordinate.”

EEOC Seattle Field Office Director Nancy Sienko said, “Employers take heed: Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace, so train your managers and employees to recognize illegal behavior. Employers should send the message that no one in the organization is above the law and that sexual harassment absolutely will not be tolerated.”

According to its website, hannahsociety.com, Hannah’s Inc. owns and operates facilities in Tigard and Portland, Ore.

The EEOC’s Seattle Field Office has jurisdiction over Oregon.

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.