EEOC Sues American Security Associates for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

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

Security Officer Subjected to Hostile Work Environment and Then Punished for Reporting It, Federal Agency Charges

ATLANTA – American Security Associates, Inc., an Acworth, Georgia-based contract security guard service provider, violated federal law by subjecting a female security officer to a sexually hostile work environment and then retaliating against her for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it recently filed.

According to the EEOC’s suit, beginning in or about April 2017, Ambreia Chaney, a security officer working for American Security Associates at one of its client’s condominium communities, began to be sexually harassed by her male co-worker in the form of unwelcome and inappropriate touching and lewd comments, including cornering Chaney in a closet and threatening to engage in sexual acts. Chaney reported the sexual harassment to her supervisor and the company’s regional manager.

After receiving her complaint, American Security Associates immediately moved Chaney to a less favorable position with a reduction in pay. American Security Associates also failed to investigate Chaney’s complaint, telling her that she should expect sexual harassment based on her appearance. After American Security Associates refused to address her complaint and return her to her previous position with the same pay, Chaney felt that she had no choice but to resign from her position.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and prohibits employers from firing, demoting, harassing or otherwise retaliating against employees because of complaints of discrimination or harassment. The EEOC filed suit against American Security Associates, Inc. (Civil Action No. 1:21-CV-3870-ELR-JSA) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement via its conciliation pro­cess. The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief to prevent future discrimina­tion.

“When a company learns of sexual harassment, it has a duty to protect its employee and correct any misconduct,” said Marcus G. Keegan, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “Instead, this company penalized its employee for exercising her federally protected rights by moving her to a less favorable position and reducing her pay. The EEOC will fight to protect the victims of this unlawful and unacceptable maltreatment.”

Darrell Graham, district director of the EEOC’s Atlanta office, said, “Employees should not have to face sexual harassment from co-workers or fear retaliation for seeking protection from it. We at the EEOC will continue to enforce the rights of employees who speak out against this kind of abuse in the workplace.”

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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