Manager Abused Teen Employees, Federal Agency Charged
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A U.S. District Court Jury has found that a 38-year-old general manager at The Finish Line, Inc.'s Cool Springs Galleria store in Franklin, Tenn., subjected three female subordinates, who were 16 and 17 at the time, to severe sexual harassment, the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today. The Finish Line is an Indianapolis-based company that sells athletic footwear, apparel and accessories.
The jury awarded the victims $30,000 in compensatory damages in a trial presided over by Chief District Judge William J. Haynes, Jr. In addition to compensatory damages, the parties also stipulated to an amount of back pay. Within 20 days, the EEOC will also file a motion with the court for injunctive relief against the defendant.
The lawsuit charged Finish Line with subjecting at least three female employees to unlawful sexual harassment. The agency also alleged that Finish Line forced the female employees to quit as a result of the sexually abusive working environment, and retaliated against one female employee by reducing her hours because she resisted the sexual harassment.
This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harassment based on sex and retaliation against those who protest it. The EEOC filed its lawsuit, Civil Action No. 3:11-cv-00920, in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, after first attempting to settle the matter through its conciliation process.
"This jury verdict reinforces the EEOC's continued commitment to securing fair and equal treatment for women of all ages in the workplace," said Faye A. Williams, EEOC regional attorney in Memphis District, which includes Tennessee, Arkansas and North Mississippi. "It also sends a clear message to employers that there is a price to pay for sexual harassment in the workplace."
Kenneth Anderson, EEOC lead trial attorney, said, "It is unfortunate that any woman has to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace, especially teenagers. Equally reprehensible is the fact that the harassment was at the hands of their much older male supervisor. We commend these three young women for the tremendous courage they displayed in confronting egregious sexual harassment by their supervisor."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.