Company Owner Victimized Driver and Fired Him When He Complained to the Sheriff, Federal Agency Charged
ORLANDO, Fla. – Shelley’s Septic Tank, Inc., a Florida company operating in the Orlando area, has agreed to pay $82,500 and furnish other relief to settle a same-sex sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC charged that Shelley’s violated federal law when a driver was sexually harassed by the company’s owner and fired in retaliation for complaining to the sheriff’s office about the harassment.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the company’s male owner repeatedly made sexually charged comments to a male employee. He also engaged in unwelcome physical contact with the employee. After repeatedly objecting to the inappropriate conduct, the employee reported the inappropriate sexual conduct to the sheriff’s office in an effort to end the harassment. Shortly after the employee’s complaint, sheriff’s deputies informed the owner of the employee’s allegations, and he indicated that he would retaliate against the employee. The owner did so by terminating the employee on the first day the employee returned to work after the complaint, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation against workers who object to such discrimination. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (EEOC v. Shelley’s Septic Tank, Inc.; Civil Action No. 6:20-CV-01285-CEM-LRH) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $82,500 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree settling the suit requires Shelley’s to develop and distribute a written policy against discrimination and to conduct anti-discrimination training. Shelley’s must also post a notice at its worksite about the lawsuit and submit written reports twice a year to the EEOC.
“Sexually harassing employees violates federal law no matter the gender of the victim or harasser,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office. “This settlement confirms the EEOC’s commitment to eradicating sexual harassment and retaliation from the American workplace.”
Paul Valenti, director of the EEOC’s Miami District Office, added, “This decree sends a strong message to businesses and business owners that failing to prevent and address sex harassment against employees, especially when perpetrated by management, will have serious consequences.”
The EEOC’s Miami District Office is comprised of the Miami, Tampa, and San Juan offices and has jurisdiction over most of Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The EEOC’s Miami District employs multiple bilingual investigators who speak English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, French and Portuguese.
The EEOC advances opportunities in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.