Safelite Charged with Sexual Harassment, Retaliation,
by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
August 9, 2010
|The EEOC alleges that a human resources assistant
was sexually harassed at Safelite's Enfield, N.C., facility
from March 2007 to March 2008 (shown here).
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a
suit against Safelite Glass on Friday charging the company with
subjecting a female employee to a hostile work environment because
of her sex and discharging her in retaliation for complaining about
the sexually hostile work environment, according to court
The EEOC alleges that Lee Laraviere-Steele, who worked as a human
resources assistant in the company's Enfield, N.C., manufacturing
and distribution facility, was subjected to sexual harassment from
March 2007 until March 2008 by the facility's male human resources
(HR) manager. The human resources manager is not named in the suit.
"The sexual harassment was severe or pervasive in that it
involved both sexual comments and touching," reads the EEOC
complaint. "The complained-of conduct occurred almost every
time the HR manager worked in the same facility as Laraviere-Steele,
the frequency of which varied but was at least three days per week
every other week."
The EEOC goes on to allege that when the HR manager was out of
town, he would "call Laraviere-Steele by phone and make sexual
Comments alleged to have been made include items such as telling
Laraviere-Steele "that she is pretty and sexy, asking her the
color of her panties and commenting that she has nice breasts,"
according to a statement
The HR manager, who was not named in the suit, also is alleged
to have asked Laraviere-Steele to meet away from the facility to
discuss some business and to allegedly have physically harassed
her during the meeting.
"While at the remote location, the HR manager rubbed Laraviere-Steele's
shoulders, tried to kiss her and tried to pull her down onto his
lap," reads the suit. "Laraviere-Steele told the HR manager
to stop, and she immediately left the room where they were meeting."
On March 3, 2008, the EEOC says Laraviere-Steele complained to
the facility's operations manager "and stated that the conduct
made her uncomfortable." The next day, while home sick, Laraviere-Steele
says she received a call from the HR manager, who told her she should
not have complained about his conduct, according to court documents.
EEOC alleges that on March 6, when she returned to work, the HR
manager told her she was discharged from her job.
"Thus, [Safelite] failed to act reasonably to stop the harassment
and retaliated against Laraviere-Steele by discharging her because
of her complaint," writes the EEOC in the suit.
The EEOC charges Safelite with depriving Laraviere-Steele of equal
employment opportunities because of her sex and also alleges that
the practices described in the suit were intentional and "were
done with malice or with reckless indifference to [Laraviere-Steel's]
federally protected rights."
The EEOC is seeking backpay for Laraviere-Steele as well as compensatory
and punitive damages and injunctive relief, and says it filed the
suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement with
Safelite. The Commission is requesting a jury trial.
"Once an employee complains about harassment in the workplace,
the employer is required under federal law to act reasonably to
prevent further abuse," says Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney
of the EEOC's Charlotte District. "This case is especially
egregious because the alleged harasser is the human resources manager,
the person who in many companies is responsible for ensuring that
employees are not harassed. The EEOC will aggressively prosecute
cases where the employer ignores known harassment or retaliates
against the victim for complaining."
Safelite spokesperson Jenny Cain issued the following statement
to glassBYTEs.com/AGRR magazine regarding the case.
"We take matters like this seriously," she says. "However,
we are unable to comment on pending litigation."
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