Pacific Airport Services in Saipan Settles EEOC Sexual Harassment Suit for $65,000

by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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Company  Failed to Discipline Supervisor Who Sexually Harassed at Least Five Female  Employees, Federal Agency Says

SAIPAN, CNMI - Pacific Airport Services, Inc., an airport  services provider for various airlines servicing Saipan, will pay $65,000 and  furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and constructive discharge  lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal  agency announced today.

The EEOC filed suit against the company in 2009, charging  that a number of customer service agents were sexually harassed by their male  supervisor while working for Pacific Airport Services at the Saipan  International Airport between 2006 and 2007.    The EEOC further asserts that the supervisor continuously subjected the  women to sexual comments and advances, asking the women to perform sexual  acts.  In at least one instance, the  supervisor allegedly requested oral sex from one of the customer service  agents.  The supervisor also grabbed the  women, fondled their buttocks and placed his pelvic area in front of a female  employee's face, according to the EEOC. 

Despite complaints about the sexual harassment to management,  the EEOC said, that the supervisor was not adequately disciplined since he  maintained his supervisorial authority.   In fact, the EEOC contends that at least one of the women was forced to  resign as a result of continued hostility on the part of her supervisor. 

Sexual harassment  and constructive discharge (being forced to quit one's job because of  intolerable conditions) violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of  1964.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S.  District Court for the District of the Northern Mariana Islands (EEOC v. Pacific Airport Services, Inc., Case No. 09-0039) after first  attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation  process.

The parties  entered into a two-and-a-half year consent decree, requiring Pacific Airport  Services to pay $65,000 to the victims.  The  company further agreed to revise and distribute its policy and procedures on  Title VII, sex discrimination and sexual harassment; designate an  experienced equal employment opportunity consultant; conduct annual anti-harassment  training for all employees; and create a centralized tracking system to monitor  internal complaints of discrimination, harassment and retaliation.  The company is required to report the handling  of such complaints, along with measures to comply with the decree, to the EEOC.

"Workers have the right to earn a living without having to  endure sexual overtures and harassment," declared Anna Y. Park, regional  attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office, which has jurisdiction  over the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.  "Supervisors and upper management officials  need to be the gatekeepers, ensuring that swift, proper action is taken to put  a halt to sexual harassment in the workplace.   The EEOC commends Pacific Airport Services' willingness to take positive  steps to properly train its staff to help ensure that sexual harassment will  not be a problem there again."

Timothy Riera, director of the EEOC's Honolulu Local Office,  which directly oversees the territory, said, "Employers are responsible for  maintaining a harassment-free environment for their employees.  Those who have a well-distributed policy  against sexual harassment, train employees on the policy and employ staff who  are able to effectively investigate complaints will go a long way toward  preventing such abuses on the job."

According to its website, www.pas-saipan.com,  Saipan-based Pacific Airport Services began in 1991 and provides a variety of  services for airlines in Saipan including technical operations, security,  cleaning, and passenger services. 

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination.  Further information  about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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