WILMINGTON, N.C. — SKMATCH, Inc., the operator of a Subway restaurant in Wilmington, N.C., will pay $55,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that two female employees were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment at one of SKMATCH’s Subway restaurants in Wilmington.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, from around December 2008 through May 7, 2009, the male assistant manager at the Subway store where Helena Miller worked, subjected her to repeated sexual comments, sexual propositions and name calling and sexual touching. At the time of the sexual harassment, Miller was only 18 years old, and the assistant manager who harassed her was ten years older than her. Miller complained to other managers about the sexual harassment, the EEOC said, but no action was taken in response to her complaints. The harassment was so intolerable that Miller was forced to quit her job in order to avoid being harassed.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit case (EEOC v. SKMATCH, Inc. d/b/a Subway, Case No. 7:10CV00187) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $55,000 in compensatory damages to be divided between Miller and a second victim, the five-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit includes injunctive relief that requires SKMATCH to (1) refrain from engaging in sexual harassment or retaliation; (2) revise its sexual harassment policy to include procedures for reporting and resolving sexual harassment complaints; (3) conduct anti-discrimination training; (4) post a notice about the settlement; (5) distribute its revised policies prohibiting sexual harassment; and (6) report certain complaints of harassment to the EEOC for monitoring.
“All workers have the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment,” says Lynette Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District, which includes the agency’s Raleigh Area Office, where the underlying charge of discrimination was filed. “No one should have to put up with sexual comments or touching in their place of work. Smart employers can prevent sexual harassment by training their employees on workplace harassment and how to report it, and training their managers on how to respond effectively to a sexual harassment complaint with a prompt investigation and effective corrective measures.”