EEOC Said Manager Also Retaliated Against Victim and Supervisors Who Tried to Help
LOS ANGELES – Regal Entertainment Group, a national movie theater chain, will pay $175,000 and furnish significant remedial relief to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that the company subjected a male employee to sexual harassment by a female co-worker and then retaliated against him for complaining about the unlawful conduct – along with two supervisors who tried to help.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that a male employee at a Regal theater in Marina del Rey, Calif., a section of Los Angeles, was subjected to a sexually hostile workplace by a female co-worker who repeatedly grabbed his crotch. When the male victim and his direct supervisor complained to the theater’s then-general manager, she failed to take adequate steps to stop or prevent the harassment. Instead, the EEOC said, she retaliated against the harassed employee and two other supervisory employees (male and female), who are part of the EEOC’s suit. The retaliation included unwarranted discipline, unfairly lower performance evaluations and/or stricter scrutiny of performance.
Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against Regal in 2006 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (U.S. EEOC v. Regal Entertainment Group, Inc., CV06-04145-ABC [CWx]) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
According to EEOC data, the percentage of men filing sexual harassment charges with the federal agency and state/local government agencies nationwide has increased over the past decade from 12 to 16 percent of all charges involving sexual harassment.
In addition to the monetary relief, the consent decree settling the case requires Regal Entertainment Group to: provide annual anti-discrimination training to its employees; closely track any future discrimination complaints to conform to its obligations under Title VII; and provide annual reports to the EEOC regarding its employment practices.
Regional Attorney Anna Park of the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office said, “Employers need to reinforce the proper responses to complaints of sexual harassment and take a hard line against retaliation. In this case, the sexual harassment claim was absolutely valid, but even in cases where discrimination allegation lacks merit, the EEOC will still hold companies liable for any subsequent retaliation against the person who complained or other individuals who supported the claim.”
The EEOC’s Los Angeles District Director Olophius Perry added, “The remedial relief contained in this settlement serves as a model for the entertainment industry in terms of voluntary compliance with federal discrimination laws. We are pleased that Regal is now taking the steps necessary to provide a discrimination-free workplace for all employees going forward.”
According to its web site, www.regmovies.com, Knoxville, Tenn.-based “Regal Entertainment Group operates the largest and most geographically diverse theatre circuit in the United States, consisting of 6,773 screens in 549 theatres in 39 states and the District of Columbia.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.