Florida Employer Will Pay $82,5000 To Resolve Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Lawsuit

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On November 17th, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has reached a settlement of a sexual harassment/workplace retaliation employment lawsuit with an Orlando-based company. The company will pay $82,500 to resolve a same-sex sexual harassment claim. Here, you will find an overview of the settlement reached by the EEOC and an overview of same-sex sexual harassment claims. 

Allegations: Male Employee Sexually Harassed by Male Supervisor 

The EEOC alleges that the male owner of Shelley’s Septic Tank, Inc.—a company based in Orange County, Florida—made sexually explicit comments to a male employee. Additionally, the male supervisor also allegedly engaged in inappropriate, unwelcome physical contact. In an effort to put an end to the harassment, the employee reported the matter to the local sheriff’s office—filing a formal legal complaint against the owner of the company. In investigating the issue, the sheriff’s office informed the male supervisor of the allegations.

Upon being informed of the allegations, the male owner of Shelley’s Septic Tank, Inc. allegedly openly stated his intent to retaliate against the employee. He followed through on the threat. When the employee returned to work the following day, he was terminated from his position. The EEOC has now reached a settlement of the same-sex sexual harassment and workplace retaliation claim. The Central Florida company will pay $82,500 in compensation to the employee. Further, the company has entered a three-year consent decree with the EEOC. 

Same-Sex Sexual Harassment is Prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 

When most people think about workplace sexual harassment, they tend to conjure up images of a male supervisor harassing a female employee. While it is true that women are disproportionately affected by sexual misconduct in the workplace, any person can be the victim of sexual harassment. Likewise, any person can commit sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects:

  • A woman harassed by a man;
  • A man harassed by a woman;
  • A man harassed by a man; and
  • A woman harassed by a woman.

That two individuals are of the same sex is not a defense against a workplace sexual harassment claim. As a representative of the EEOC’s Miami District Office emphasized in relation to this case, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual harassment “no matter the gender of the victim or harasser. 

In 2020, The Supreme Court of the United States also extended the protections against employment discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to include LGBT employees. 

Employees Have the Right to Report Sexual Harassment 

In far too many cases, sexual harassment goes unreported. State and federal laws are in place to help ensure that employees are able to report sexual harassment—whether committed by a business owners, supervisor, co-worker, or customer. An employer that punished an employee for complaining about and/or formally reporting sexual harassment may be held liable in a retaliation claim. 

Get Help From a Workplace Sexual Harassment Attorney in Florida 

Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable. You should be able to report sexual harassment without the fear of facing retaliation from your employer. If you or a loved one was a victim of sexual harassment or retaliation, contact an experienced Florida employment law for help.

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