Rampant sex harassment costs Lowe’s $1.7 million
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced a major settlement of a discrimination lawsuit against Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, Inc. for $1.72 million and significant remedial relief on behalf of three employees in their twenties who were subjected to a pervasive sexually hostile work environment and retaliated against for complaining about it.
Lowe’s is the second largest home improvement retailer worldwide, operating 1,525 stores throughout the United States and Canada. The former employees, two young men and one woman, were subjected to widespread and repeated sexual harassment by male and female managers and co-workers at a Lowe’s store in Longview, Washington, according to the EEOC. The sexually hostile workplace, which endured for more than six months, included physical and verbal abuse which culminated in one instance of sexual assault.
Among the many allegations, the EEOC said the female employee was sexually assaulted by the store manager in his office. Prior to the alleged assault, the EEOC said she was implicitly propositioned for sex by the manager related to a recent promotion she received. The EEOC asserted that Lowe’s not only failed to take prompt remedial action to stop the sexual harassment, but also dismissed the three victims in the case.
In addition to the $1,720,000 in monetary relief for the three victims, the decree resolving the case requires Lowe’s to provide comprehensive training to management, non-management, and human resources employees on what constitutes harassment and victimisation. Managers will be trained on their obligation to provide a discrimination-free work environment, and their responsibilities if an employee complains, or if observing discrimination. The consent decree also requires Lowe’s to revise its sexual harassment and anti-victimisation policies and issue an anti-harassment statement to all employees.
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