Employee Terminated After She Reported the Abuse, Federal Agency Charged
NORFOLK, Va. - Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, Inc., which operates a roasting facility in Suffolk, Va., has agreed to pay $65,000 and provide other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that Massimo Zanetti discriminated against a temporary worker when it subjected her to a sexually hostile work environment and then fired her for opposing the abuse.
According to the EEOC's suit, LaToya Young was a temporary worker supplied by a third-party staffing agency to work at the Suffolk facility. The EEOC alleged that around February 2015, a male co-worker began harassing Young. The alleged harassment included requests for sex and sexual favors, as well as other crude sexual comments and gestures. Young reported the sexual harassment on at least three occasions, but the harassment continued. After Young's third report to her supervisor, her assignment at Massimo Zanetti was terminated due to her complaints.
Such alleged conduct violates the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division (EEOC v. Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-499) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to providing monetary relief to Young, Massimo Zanetti entered into a two-year consent decree requiring the company to conduct annual training for its Suffolk employees, supervisors, and managers on the requirements of Title VII and its prohibition against sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace. Massimo Zanetti must also post an employee notice in the Suffolk facility and provide periodic reports to the EEOC.
"Employers must take appropriate action to stop harassment of all employees, including temporary workers," said Kara G. Haden, acting regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District. "We hope that this case sends a clear message that the EEOC will hold accountable employers who fail to protect all employees from workplace harassment."