Female Employee Sexually Assaulted by Restaurant Manager, Federal Agency Charges
SAIPAN, CNMI – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today filed a federal sexual harassment lawsuit against a company which operates several hotels in Saipan, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. In its lawsuit against Asia Pacific Hotels, Inc., doing business as Saipan Grand Hotel, and Tan Holdings Corporation / Company, the EEOC charged that the restaurant manager of the Saipan Grand Hotel sexually assaulted a female employee while she was asleep in her room.
According to the EEOC’s suit, the sexual assault occurred when the hotel's restaurant manager lay down in the bed where the woman was sleeping and partially undressed her for the purpose of engaging in acts of physical touching of a sexual nature. The victim awoke screaming, local police authorities were called and the manager was taken into custody, the EEOC said. In its lawsuit, the EEOC asserts that the hotel wholly failed in its obligation to prevent this egregious act of sexual harassment from occurring in its workplace and correct it once it occurred. Instead of engaging in remedial measures, the hotel attempted to cover up the assault by threatening the victim that if she did not leave the CNMI immediately, they would notify CNMI and U.S. immigration authorities that her work contract had expired.
“The EEOC is seriously concerned about the increase in occurrences of sexual assault and battery against female employees in the workplace,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Anna Park. “In particular, this appears to be a disturbing trend in the jurisdiction of the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office, which includes CNMI, and employers must be aware of the potential for such misconduct against women in their workplace and be vigilant in preventing it. All workers -- local and non-resident -- have the right to work in an environment free of abuse.”
The EEOC filed the suit (EEOC v. Asia Pacific Hotels, Inc., et al, CV 10-0002) in U.S. District Court for the District of the Northern Mariana Islands, after first attempting a voluntary settlement. The Commission seeks lost wages, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages, and injunctive relief to prevent and correct any future workplace discrimination.
EEOC Honolulu Local Director Timothy Riera said, “No employee, male or female, should have to fear for his or her physical safety in the workplace. The EEOC is committed to ensuring that CNMI employers provide female workers a safe workplace that is free from harassment and sexual violence.”
Notably, the EEOC recently resolved a similar lawsuit it brought against another CNMI employer (EEOC v. Rome Research, U.S.D.C. NMI Civil No. 07-0030) alleging repeated acts of sexual assault by a supervisor against a female employee. Pursuant to that resolution, the EEOC secured appropriate monetary relief for the victim, as well as extensive injunctive relief, including periodic training and monitoring, to ensure there will be no future violations. Filing the present lawsuit against Asia Pacific Hotels reinforces the fact that the EEOC will remain vigilant in prosecuting employers who fail to provide a safe work environment free of sexual violence for their employees.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.