Employment Law: EEOC Sues Florida Company for Same Sex Harassment and Unlawful Retaliation
On July 21st, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that the agency is filing an employment lawsuit against Shelley’s Septic Tank, a Zellwood, Florida-based business. The EEOC alleges that the company’s owner sexually harassed an employee. Subsequently, that employee was discharged. Below, our West Palm Beach employment law attorneys provide a more detailed overview of the EEOC’s complaint.
Allegation: Sexual Harassment
In a lawsuit filed in Florida federal court, the EEOC alleges that the owner of Shelley’s Septic Tank (a male) repeatedly made unwelcome physical contact with one of the firm’s employees (also a male). The employee objected to the sexual harassment and reported the matter, both within the company and outside of the company. To be clear, state and federal labor laws protect employees against workplace sexual harassment. The sex of the victim and the alleged perpetrator does not matter. Male employees are protected against sexual harassment.
Allegation: Unlawful Retaliation
The EEOC complaint notes that the employee filed a complaint with the local sheriff’s office. Within the same week, the owners of Shelley’s Septic Tank allegedly became aware of the report and fired the employee. Employers are strictly prohibited from taking retaliatory action against workers who engage in a protected activity. An employee has the right to report workplace sexual harassment—both formally and informally.
The EEOC is Seeking Back Pay and Front Pay for the Employee
The agency filed a lawsuit after it was unable to reach a pre-litigation settlement with the Florida-based company. In the sexual harassment and workplace retaliation claim, the agency is seeking back pay, front pay, and punitive compensation on behalf of the affected employee. In addition, the agency also wants the employer to improve its workplace practices.
Too Many Employees Face Retaliation After Reporting Sexual Harassment
Sadly, workplace sexual harassment remains a very serious problem in South Florida and throughout the country. The problem may be even worse than the data shows: The latest research suggests that sexual harassment is systematically underreported. One of the biggest problems is that too many employees are punished when they speak up about sexual harassment.
According to research cited by federal regulators, a survey found that 75 percent of employees who reported sexual harassment faced some form of retaliation from their employer. Retaliation is strictly illegal. If you reported sexual harassment and you faced any type of adverse action—from additional harassment to a demotion to a wrongful termination—you should call an employment attorney right away. A lawyer will protect your rights.
Call Our South Florida Employment Lawyers for Reliable Help
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida employment law attorneys have experience handling sexual harassment claims and retaliation claims. We represent both employers and employees. We are proud to advocate for the rights and interests of our clients. Call us now for a confidential initial consultation. We serve communities throughout Southeastern Florida, including in West Palm Beach, Miami, Jupiter, Fort Lauderdale, Hialeah, and Palm Beach Gardens.