Agency Says Office Manager Used Security Cameras to Ogle Female Subordinate's Breasts
MINNEAPOLIS - A Worthington, Minn., office furniture and office supply company violated federal civil rights laws by permitting its operations manager to create a sexually hostile working environment against one of its female employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, between March and July 2010, Davis Typewriter Company's operations manager commandeered the company's security camera system to stream hours of footage of former employee Tracey Kelley's breasts and body onto his office computer. The EEOC's investigation indicated that when Kelley learned of her manager's surreptitious surveillance, and notified another manager and Davis Typewriter's owner, the company failed to take sufficient steps to correct such behavior, or prevent it from occurring again in the future. As a result of the company's failure to take reasonable measures to correct the harassment or prevent it from happening again, Kelley was forced to quit.
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit today in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Davis Typewriter Company; Civil Action No. 0:13-cv-2345 DSD/AJB) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief that will require Davis Typewriter to adopt an effective sexual harassment prevention policy that complies with federal law and will seek back pay, compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of Kelley.
John Rowe, director of the EEOC's Chicago District, which includes Minnesota, said that the EEOC's administrative investigation which preceded the lawsuit, revealed a particularly egregious case of sexual harassment.
"Security cameras in the workplace are almost as common as computers," said Rowe. "No one should ever have to worry that this constant monitoring is being used to satisfy their boss's sexual fantasy."
John Hendrickson, the EEOC regional attorney in Chicago, said, "It appears from our investigation -- and we intend to prove it in court -- that Davis Typewriter learned about this man's unlawful behavior, but refused to take the steps necessary to assure Ms. Kelley that this behavior would not ever happen again, or that they would provide a safe, harassment-free workplace going forward. Employers who fail to take reasonable, simple measures to protect victims from further sexual harassment do so at their peril."
The EEOC's legal team in its Minneapolis Area Office will conduct the litigation under the management of the agency's Chicago District Office. That office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.