Medical Marijuana Retailer Sexually Harassed Workers, Federal Agency Charges
BALTIMORE – Maryland Health Management, LLC, doing business as Nature’s Medicines, and AMMA Investment Group, LLC violated federal law when they subjected employees to sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today. Nature’s Medicines is a retail distributor of medical cannabis products and paraphernalia. AMMA Investment Group, LLC, performed business operations, including human resources and payroll functions, for Nature’s Medicines.
The EEOC charges that the general manager of the Nature’s Medicines facility in Ellicott City, Md., subjected at least three patient service providers to a sexually hostile work environment. Patient service providers stock display cases, provide customer service, and ring up sales. The EEOC says the general manager’s harassment included unwelcome touching, highly offensive sexual comments to and about staff and customers, and showing an employee a nude picture from his phone.
The general manager continued the offensive comments and behavior despite employee complaints. The EEOC charges that he told an employee that because of his industry connections, he could prevent anyone from getting employment at other area cannabis dispensaries if anyone complained about him. Nature’s Medicines and AMMA did not have a sexual harassment policy during much of the time when the harassment occurred and failed to stop the harassment even when an employee complained, according to the EEOC’s lawsuit.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. AMMA Investment Group, LLC and Maryland Health Management, LLC, t/a, Nature’s Medicines, Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-02786-DKC) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
“Sexual harassment is even more pernicious when it is committed by a general manager,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “Managers have a heightened responsibility to prevent sexual harassment, not engage in it.”
EEOC Philadelphia District Office Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “All employees, in all industries, have the right to a workplace free from sexually offensive comments and conduct. The EEOC stands ready to protect the rights of workers if employers fail to do so.”
Preventing harassment is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan.
The EEOC's Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.