Agency Obtains $340,000 for Caregivers Harassed Daily by 80-Year-Old Client
SAN FRANCISCO - Senior care provider R. MacArthur Corp. (RMC) will pay $340,000 in damages for five former employees and its successor, San Oak Caring Hands LLC, will implement measures to prevent future harassment to settle a racial and sexual harassment lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, caregivers employed by RMC, a franchisee of Home Instead Senior Care, reported that an 80-year-old client in Alameda, Calif., repeatedly groped them, offered lewd comments about their breasts and buttocks, and made additional racially and sexually offensive comments while they were providing in-home assistance. Although several care providers informed RMC of his conduct, the EEOC asserted that the employer failed to act on these complaints and also retaliated against one complaining caregiver, Rashon Sturdivant, by refusing to place her in other available assignments.
"I needed every dim of my paycheck but it came to a point where I couldn't face being treated like that anymore," said Sturdivant, who filed the charge bringing this case to the EEOC. "I'm hoping this settlement will encourage other in-home caregivers to realize that while we take care of people, we also deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and the laws protect us from harassment even when our workplace is inside someone else's home."
Harassment based on sex and race, as well as retaliation against employees who speak out against such conduct in the workplace, violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (EEOC v. R. MacArthur Corp. / San Oak Caring Hands LLC d/b/a/ Home Instead Senior Care, Civil Number 4:17-CV-04188-DMR) after an investigation by EEOC Investigator Krystal Clark and Enforcement Supervisor Scott Doughtie and after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Under the five-year consent decree settling the suit, RMC will pay $340,000 to five caregivers. San Oak Caring Hands, the entity that now owns and operates RMC's Home Instead franchises, will institute thorough anti-harassment training and policies that emphasize prevention, prompt correction and competent investigation. San Oak will engage a consultant to review discrimination matters and provide periodic reporting of its training, policies and complaint investigation to the EEOC.
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Linda Ordonio-Dixon said, "It's important that we send a clear message that harassment is not part of a caregiver's job description and that employers must do what they can to prevent and correct any abuses, even if the workplace happens to be in a client's home. In-home caregivers can be particularly vulnerable to harassment, and one of the EEOC's top priorities is to defend vulnerable workers against discrimination."
Emphasizing that San Oak was joined in the suit as a successor, EEOC Regional Attorney Roberta Steele added, "We applaud San Oak Caring Hands for implementing measures to prevent such harassment even though the allegations that gave rise to this lawsuit occurred before it purchased the business from RMC."
EEOC San Francisco District Director William Tamayo noted, "According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, home health aides have been projected to be the fourth-fastest growing occupation in the nation. In fact, California has just passed legislation, AB 3082, ensuring that the state Department of Social Services develop anti-harassment training and a method to track cases of sexual harassment of in-home care providers."
Providing in-home care to seniors within Alameda County, R. MacArthur Corp sold its Home Instead Senior Care franchises to San Oak Caring Hands LLC in February 2018.