Agency settles one sexual harassment suit for $450K, files another
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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Agency settles one sexual harassment suit for $450K, files another

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

A memory care facilities operator in Washington settled a sexual harassment lawsuit, while a restaurant in Puerto Rico faces new allegations of sexual harassment.

The EEOC has announced the settlement of one sexual harassment lawsuit and the filing of a new, unrelated suit also alleging violations of Title VII, not only for sexual harassment, but also for retaliation.

Same-sex harassment. Olympia, Washington-based Koelsch Senior Communities and The Hampton at Salmon Creek, one of the memory care facilities operated by Koelsch, have agreed to pay $450,000 and adopt antidiscrimination policies and training to settle allegations that they violated Title VII by subjecting a female employee to same-sex sexual harassment by a supervisor.

A female employee faced unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature from her female supervisor at The Hampton at Salmon Creek facility, including sexually charged comments, unwanted touching, repeated requests for foot rubs, and discussions about intimate details of the supervisor's marriage, dating, and sexual practices, according to the EEOC. Purportedly, the employee reported the unwelcome behavior to upper management, but Koelsch failed to investigate properly and quickly sided with the supervisor, which emboldened the woman to continue harassing her subordinate.

The employee, represented by Scott Blankenship and Rick Goldsworthy of the Blankenship Law Firm, PLLC, intervened in the EEOC's lawsuit and asserted additional claims of retaliation and termination.

Under the three-year consent decree settling the suit, in addition to the monetary relief, the employers also agreed to train high-level managers employed by both entities, as well as employees of The Hampton facility, to prevent such misconduct in the future.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit in the Western District of Washington at Tacoma; the case is No. 3:18-cv-05792-BHS.

Forced to quit. In an unrelated development, Limenos Corporation, dba Ceviche House, violated Title VII when an owner and general manager subjected a female server to sexual harassment, retaliated against her when she complained, and made her working conditions so intolerable she was forced to resign, the EEOC alleged in a new lawsuit filed against the Puerto Rico employer.

Ceviche House's part-owner made the restaurant a sexually charged workplace, regularly discussing sex at work, displaying nude photos of women, talking about the female employees' body parts, and referring to female employees as whores, according to the federal agency. When a female server complained to management about the sexually offensive behavior, the restaurant allegedly failed to stop the harassment, telling her nothing would be done to stop it.

Purportedly, the part-owner then retaliated against the employee by intensifying his harassment to include physical threats against her. As a result of his conduct, the female server was forced to resign, the Commission said.

The EEOC brought its lawsuit in the District of Puerto Rico; the case is No. 3:20-cv-01143.

Companies: Koelsch Senior Communities, LLC; The Hampton at Salmon Creek; Limenos Corporation; Ceviche House

News: AgencyNews Discrimination Discharge SexualHarassment SexDiscrimination Retaliation GCNNews

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