The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against a Long Island laundry company, Suffolk Laundry Services, Inc., after seven female employees complained about a hostile work environment and a years-long pattern of sexual harassment. The agency’s New York District Office filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on January 30, claiming violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The company provides laundry services to large commercial establishments on Long Island. The employees served as laundry workers. The EEOC alleges that a manager at the Southampton-based company routinely verbally and physically harassed female employees for several years. The manager allegedly touched women without their consent on their backs, buttocks, and hips, and he would forcibly kiss some of them. The women endured verbal harassment from the manager in the form of inappropriate comments on the women’s appearance and even comments on specific body parts. He would demand that women kiss him or sit in his lap in exchange for repairs to laundry equipment or time off from work.
When the women sought help from the EEOC, according to the lawsuit, the company allowed the manager to stay in his position. The company allegedly retaliated against the women by altering their schedules and reducing their work hours, or even terminating their employment. The EEOC says that it tried to settle the matter with the company through its usual pre-litigation dispute resolution procedures, but such efforts were not successful.
The lawsuit claims that the actions of the company in permitting the manager to continue sexually harassing employees created a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII. Damages requested include compensatory damages for the affected employees and injunctions to prevent the company from engaging in or allowing future harassment. The EEOC says that it is partnering with a nonprofit group, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, to litigate the case. LatinoJustice PRLDEF represents the seven employees who filed the complaint with the EEOC, and it has stated that it will intervene in the EEOC’s lawsuit on behalf of the employees.
A representative of the EEOC’s New York office praised the seven employees for coming forward to assert their rights by filing a complaint. He noted that the manager had significant power over their lives and livelihoods, and that it takes great courage to stand up to that sort of behavior.
The law considers sexual harassment to be a form of gender discrimination. Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees based solely on factors such as gender, race, religion, or national origin. Sexual harassment involves disparate treatment of employees based on their gender. The law also provides remedies for employees whose employers retaliate against them for making a complaint about sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination. The EEOC investigates and occasionally litigates claims on behalf of workers who have experienced harassment and discrimination. New York also has agencies that enforce anti-discrimination laws at both the state and, in New York City, municipal level.
The New York sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates represent victims of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination, fighting to protect their rights. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.
More Blog Posts:
Immigrant and Latina Workers in New York Face Sexual Harassment, Other Employment Discrimination, New York Employment Attorney Blog, March 7, 2012
Former Dean of New York University Real Estate Program Accused of Sexual Harassment, New York Employment Attorney Blog, February 28, 2012
Sexual Harassment Suit Against Radio Station Describes Work Environment Similar to Television’s “Mad Men”, New York Employment Attorney Blog, January 19, 2012
Photo credit: ‘Dirty Laundry’ by cherrycoke on stock.xchng.