Sexual Harassment is Considered a Form of Discrimination
It is illegal to terminate someone for refusing a manager’s sexual advances. This is a lesson Coastal Motors, Inc., doing business as Savannah Toyota, is only too aware of as they settle with a former employee.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought suit against Savannah Toyota for firing employee, Taylor Williams in October 2013. Ms. Williams was hired as an assistant to sales manager Eric Williams (no relation). In her role she worked at the dealership, helping Mr. Williams with sales through activities like contacting dealership customers. After a few weeks in the position, Mr. Williams propositioned Ms. Williams asking her for sexual favors. When she refused his advances, he terminated her via a text to her phone, according to the EEOC.
These actions are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act prohibits sexual harassment as it is a form of sexual discrimination. Sexual harassment includes more than just sexual advances. It also covers lewd or inappropriate behavior, comments about personal appearance, rude jokes, sharing of obscene pictures, and sexual innuendos.
After investigating Ms. William’s claim, the EEOC decided this situation warranted more exacting scrutiny and brought a lawsuit against Savannah Toyota/Coastal Motors. Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of EEOC’s Atlanta District Office said, “Title VII protects all employees against demands for sex as a condition of their jobs. The Commission is committed to protecting employees from such misconduct.”
Savannah Toyota disagrees that it acted unlawfully in the termination but agreed to a $30,000 settlement. As part of the settlement they will also post a notice of its commitment to upholding all of the stipulations set forth in Title VII and agreed not to retaliate in any way against any of its employees who participated in the case.
Many people believe sexual harassment charges can only be brought by a subordinate against someone in power over them and the future of their career, such as a manager or a supervisor, but sexual harassment covers any inappropriate conduct whether it’s conducted by management, a peer, or a customer.
If you believe you’re being sexually harassed, the first step is to inform the harasser that his or her conduct is not befitting a professional setting. If it does not immediately stop, involve management (if management is not directly involved as party to it), human resources, or follow the protocol stipulated in your employee handbook.
If that fails, and/or you are terminated from your position, contact a skilled sexual harassment attorney. You may be eligible for:
- back pay from the date of termination to the date of settlement
- compensatory damages
- emotional damages covering suffering and injury to your reputation
- reinstatement of your job with pay and benefits
- punitive damages in egregious, prolonged, or multiple claim cases
Don’t lose your job over someone else’s actions. Take the steps to ensure you are not victimized by sexual discrimination. Contact the tenacious attorneys at Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. today.
They have protected hundreds of Tampa Bay area employees against discrimination in the workplace, and the initial consultation is free.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.