Female Guard Sexually Harassed, Then Fired for Complaining, Agency Charged
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Chicago-based Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. has agreed to pay $65,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC’s suit asserted that Sheilandra Walker, who worked as a security guard at a Securitas client facility in Charlotte, was subjected to sexual harassment from February 28, 2008 until March 26, 2008 by two male guards; one of whom was her supervisor. The suit alleged that the two guards subjected Walker to unwelcome sexual comments, gestures and sexual touching. One of the guards engaged in conduct such as licking his lips and grabbing his crotch while staring at Walker’s breasts, and he would physically touch Walker by blocking the door of the guard shack when she tried to leave so that she had to brush up against him.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and retaliation for complaining about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit on September 30 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Securitas Security Services, USA, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:10-cv-487) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
The two-year consent decree resolving the case provides that Walker will receive $65,000 in settlement for her claims against the company. In addition to monetary damages, the decree provides for injunctive relief enjoining Securitas from further maintaining a sexually hostile work environment or engaging in retaliation. The decree also requires the company to post its policy against sexual harassment; distribute the policy to employees in the facility where Walker worked; provide annual, company-wide training on sexual harassment; and provide periodic reports to the EEOC.
“Employees must be free to report harassment without fear of reprisal,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “This case is a reminder to employers that they all have an obligation to ensure a work environment free from harassment, to promptly investigate complaints, and to take appropriate corrective measures to stop any such misconduct of which the company becomes aware.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.