The GEO Group, Inc., a prison management company, that runs over 100 private prison facilities across the country, has reached a $140,000 settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Arizona Civil Rights Division (ACRD).
According to the EEOC and ACRD, GEO Group had an extreme tolerance for sexual harassment. Specifically, the EEOC and ACRD alleged that male managers at GEO Group sexually harassed numerous female employees and fostered an atmosphere of sexual intimidation and harassment. The sexual harassment included serious verbal harassment and physical harassment of the female employees. They also alleged that another supervisor routinely made crude, obscene and suggestive sexual remarks. The EEOC and ACRD said that comments like these were made by supervisors, were frequent and were often made in front of other management officials, who did nothing to stop the harassment.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from discrimination based upon sex, including sexual harassment, and from retaliation. The EEOC and ACRD filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona (EEOC and ACRD v. The Geo Group, Inc., CV10-1995-PHX-SRB).
In addition to the monetary relief of $140,000 for 2 harassment victims the three-year consent decree settling the suit requires that GEO:
- review, revise, post and distribute its anti-discrimination policies and procedures
- provide training to all employees on gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace
- arrange for all complaints of sexual harassment and/or retaliation
- establish procedures required for sexual harassment investigations
- develop and implement a management evaluation system that includes EEO compliance, compliance with policies and laws prohibiting retaliation, and compliance with the decree.
“Managers must constantly be reminded of their obligation to maintain workplaces where employees are not subjected to illegal harassment or retaliation,” said Rose Daly-Rooney, lead counsel for the ACRD. “Where managers fail to satisfy these obligations, it is the employer’s responsibility to correct the violations and prevent other violations from occurring. These women and all women deserve to work without being harassed because of their sex.”
Rayford Irvin, district director of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, added, “When employers permit sexual harassment to occur in the workplace, they are violating federal law.”
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the 6 national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
If you have suffered harassment in the work place, please call California Employment Attorney, Todd M. Friedman for a free consultation.