EEOC Settles Sexual Harassment and Sex Discrimination Suits, and Files New Pregnancy Bias Suit

February 04, 2019

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has settled suits alleging that an area manager sexually harassed a cashier and a restaurant refused to hire males as bartenders, and filed a new suit accusing military contractors of discriminating against a pregnant employee. Sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and pregnancy discrimination are all hotbed areas the EEOC is focusing on.

Sexual harassment. Flash Market, Inc, has agreed to pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle allegations that the owner and operator of convenience store gas stations in the Mid-South, operating under the Citgo, Phillips, Conoco, and Shell brands, violated Title VII by creating a hostile work environment for a cashier and then firing her for complaining, according to the EEOC.

An area manager at the Memphis, Tennessee, Flash Market purportedly propositioned the cashier for sex, frequently made sexually explicit comments, and subjected her to inappropriate touching on several occasions. The cashier later complained to her store manager about the area manager's conduct, but the store manager allegedly told the cashier she could not help because she, too, was being sexually harassed by the area manager. The area manager fired the cashier after she filed an EEOC discrimination charge, the agency said.

Flash Market denied any liability or wrongdoing, but under an 18-month consent decree, in addition to providing monetary relief, agreed to train its Shelby County, Tennessee, employees and managers on Title VII’s requirements and prohibitions against sexual harassment, conduct exit interviews with departing employees to determine if they were subjected to sex discrimination or retaliation, post an antidiscrimination notice, and permit the EEOC to monitor the company's compliance with the consent decree.

Sex discrimination. R Wings R Wild, LLC, will pay $30,000 to three claimants who were denied jobs in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Del City, Oklahoma, because they are male, according to the EEOC’s lawsuit.

The federal agency alleged that the company, which does business as Buffalo Wild Wings, violated Title VII when it refused to hire males into bartender positions at those locations. Although it denied any wrongdoing, RWRW chose to resolve the case before trial. In addition to the monetary payment, the company will also conduct sex discrimination training for its management employees in Little Rock and Del City locations.

Pregnancy discrimination suit. U.S. military contractors Day & Zimmermann Group, Inc, and Sunrise Beach Corporation, dba M2 Services Corporation, violated Title VII when they subjected a pregnant employee to discrimination, forcing her to take an unpaid leave of absence and ultimately firing her because of her pregnancy, the EEOC’s new lawsuit alleges.

The employee, who was responsible for cleaning aircraft parts and was potentially exposed to dirt, dust, fumes, grease, oils, and cleaning agents, along with various hazardous metals and coatings, advised M2 of her pregnancy in January 2016. Almost immediately thereafter, M2 allegedly placed her on an involuntary and unpaid leave of absence, requiring her to obtain medical authorization before returning to work. Even after she was medically cleared to return to work by her own treating medical professionals, M2 still refused to allow her to return and fired her in March 2016, the EEOC said.