Retaliation Followed Harassed Employee to Her New Job, Says EEOC
SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Holiday Inn Express Mountain View-Palo Alto violated federal law when a supervisor there sexually harassed a female employee and retaliated against her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s investigation, Beatriz Garcia, who worked as a front desk clerk at the hotel, faced sexual harassment by one of her supervisors, including unwelcome touching, sexual comments and threats in response to complaining about the harassment. The EEOC asserts that, after Garcia notified management about the harassment, as well as about discrimination against Mexican workers, the company retaliated by firing her. More retaliation occurred after Garcia filed an EEOC charge, says the agency, when a member of Holiday Inn's management called Garcia's manager at her new place of work in an attempt to warn him about Garcia and to obtain her contact information.
“I came to this country to work hard and achieve the American dream. At the Holiday Inn Express, I found a great job but I also found sexual harassment and retaliation,” said Garcia. “Soon after being promoted, I realized that the promotion came at a price I did not want to pay. I could not continue to work where I was being treated as a sexual object. So instead I decided take a stand against sexual harassment and retaliation, for anyone who like me has suffered from harassment at work."
Sexual harassment and termination as retaliation for speaking out about it violate Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed this suit (CV-10-4254 HRL in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California) only after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through conciliation. The suit seeks monetary damages, training on anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws, posting of notices at the work site and other injunctive relief.
“All workers have the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment and retaliation,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William Tamayo. “By law, employers must protect their workers and take responsibility for the actions of their supervisors.”
EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado noted that the number of retaliation charges filed with the EEOC in fiscal year 2009 (33,613) was more than double the number of sexual harassment charges filed (12,696).
“When an employee comes to you with concerns about harassment, take this as an opportunity to protect your human resources,” said Baldonado. “Send a clear message that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in your workplace.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.