One of the more distressing realities is that despite all the progress that has been made in protecting workers in today's workplace, many women are still subjected to repeated instances of sexual harassment by co-workers or even supervisors. Compounding this problem further is that they may feel as if they have no options or would lose their job if they complained to higher-ups.
The simple reality, however, is that both sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting it are prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that those companies that fail to take the necessary actions can find themselves hit with a lawsuit courtesy of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
By way of illustration, consider a case we reported on this past October concerning Vacation Resorts International, one of the nation's premier timeshare management firms and the owner of the popular Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort.
To recap, the EEOC filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of one of the resort's female groundskeeping/housekeeping employees who was forced to endure recurring sexual harassment by a male manager and whose complaints to the male manager's supervisor went entirely ignored.
Here, she was ultimately terminated after threatening to complain to a higher-ranking superior and the male manager's wife.
In recent developments, the EEOC announced just last week that it had reached a settlement with VRI concerning the accusations of sexual harassment and retaliation.
Under the terms of the settlement, VRI will have to take the following measures:
- Pay the affected female groundskeeping/housekeeping employee $125,000 in damages
- Put on sexual harassment and retaliation training for all employees of the Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort
- Require the male manager and supervisor to participate in live, one-to-one trainings
"This settlement should send a clear message to the hospitality industry: The law will not tolerate subjecting female workers to sexual harassment," said an EEOC attorney. "It is not enough to have an anti-discrimination policy; employers must work hard to ensure that such policies are enforced."
Please understand that you don't have to silently endure sexual harassment in any form and that you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if believe that either you or a loved one has been victimized.