EEOC Pushes for Continuation of Sexual Harassment Suit Against Safelite
January 18, 2012

by Penny Stacey,

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed opposition to a previous motion for summary judgment in the suit it filed almost two years ago against Safelite alleging sexual harassment and retaliation against a former employee.

While Gregory Byrd, a former supervisor of the employee named in the case, Lee Laraviere-Steele, and a named defendant, has requested that the court end the suit with a summary judgment, the EEOC says “there are genuine issues of material facts in dispute precluding summary judgment, and a jury could find in favor of the EEOC.”

The brief in support of opposition by the EEOC details several specific allegations beyond those listed in the original complaint, and cites depositions by other employees who allege that Laraviere-Steele told them about various instances of alleged harassment while working at the company's Enfield, N.C., facility.

The EEOC claims that Laraviere-Steele “was distressed and fearful of the consequences of rejecting Byrd’s unwelcome demands... [but] felt obligated to endure [his] unwanted comments and touching because she was the primary provider for her family and she needed to keep her job to support them.”

The EEOC further alleges that in March 2008 Laraviere-Steele complained to operations manager Tony Roach about the alleged behavior and that she was considering resigning. “Roach advised Laraviere-Steele that he would take care of the situation and she should not quit her job,” writes the EEOC. The EEOC alleges that the next day, Laraviere-Steele missed work due to illness and received a call from Byrd advising her not to return to work the next day. When she returned to work, she alleges Byrd terminated her employment “because she was not a ‘good fit.’” EEOC further alleges that Laraviere-Steele’s termination form identifies the reason for her discharge as “personality conflict.”

The EEOC is urging the court to deny the motion for summary judgment and allow the case to proceed to a jury, according to court documents.

Additionally, Laraviere-Steele also has filed an opposition to Byrd’s motion for summary judgment.

At press time, the court had not yet ruled on the motion.

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