Baccarat to Pay $100,000 to Settle EEOC Lawsuit for Race, Sexual Orientation and Disability Harassment

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Manhattan Store Forced Employee to Quit Due to Abuse, Federal Agency Charged
 

NEW YORK – Baccarat, Inc., which operates a retail store in Manhattan that sells luxury crystal products, will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle a lawsuit for employment discrimination filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC had charged Baccarat with harassing a sales consultant at its Manhattan store based on race, sexual orientation and disability harassment.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the sales consultant was subject to constant and virulent verbal harassment by two co-workers for close to three years, with the knowledge of the supervisor, to whom the sales consultant complained on several occasions. The harassment victim was forced to quit to escape the abuse, the EEOC said.

The EEOC filed suit (U.S. EEOC v. Baccarat, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:20-CV-02918) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after first attempting a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s lawsuit initially charged Baccarat with failing to take prompt action to end race and disability harassment following numerous employee complaints to management and human resources. The EEOC amended the complaint to include an allegation of sexual orientation harassment following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 15, 2020 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020).

The consent decree settling the suit, entered by Judge Paul G. Gardephe, will remain in effect for two and a half years and, in addition to the $100,000 payment to the harassment victim, requires signif­icant non-monetary relief designed to prevent further harassment. These provisions include the imple­mentation of an 800 hotline for employee complaints; training for all employees, including management and human resources staff, on the requirements of Title VII and the ADA and their prohibition against harassment in the workplace; and specific one-on-one training for the manager who failed to report or stop the harassment. The company must also report to the EEOC any complaints of race, sexual orient­ation, or disability harassment it receives in the next two and a half years.

The lawsuit was settled prior to the parties engaging in substantial pre-trial discovery.

“Baccarat’s willingness to resolve this matter early on enabled the parties to jointly craft an effective resolution designed to prevent harassment,” said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. “When it is possible to negotiate an effective settlement, as was the case here, the employer expends fewer resources responding to the lawsuit and the impacted employee receives compensation much sooner than if the parties had engaged in protracted litigation.”

EEOC New York District Director Judy Keenan added, “There are still far too many complaints filed with our office in which an employee makes his or her employer aware that harassment is occur­ring but management fails to take prompt, effective steps to end it. The EEOC is committed to vigor­ously investigating complaints in which a victim charges harassment based on race, sexual orientation, disability or other protected categories.”

The EEOC's New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont. The New York District Office, located in Manhattan, conducted the investigation resulting in this lawsuit.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available 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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