EEOC Settles Suit for Young Men Who Were Sexually Abused

SEATTLE - Hotel giant WorldMark by Wyndham will pay $370,000 and furnish significant remedial relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that the company failed to stop the manager of its Birch Bay Resort in Blaine, Wash., from sexually harassing young male employees.

According to the EEOC’s investigation, the resort manager, male and in his 40s, repeatedly subjected young male employees between the ages of 17 and 25 to unwelcome touching of a sexual nature, comments about their physical appearance, and sexually charged situations.

One of the former employees said, “I was humiliated by what was happening to me at work -- everyone knew and many people just laughed about it. It was really hard to talk about what happened to me, reporting it to the EEOC, but it was worth it. At least now I know it’s not going to happen again to another teenager.”

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed the suit (EEOC v. Wyndham Worldwide Corporation d/b/a WorldMark by Wyndham, formerly Trendwest Resorts, Inc., No. C07-1531 RSM; Western District of Washington at Seattle) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

Under a consent decree filed with the federal court, WorldMark by Wyndham agreed to pay a total of $370,000 to four former employees. The company also agreed to provide anti-discrimination training for managers, supervisors and employees at Birch Bay Resort and to establish policies and procedures to address sexual harassment issues. Wyndham will also report any future discrimination complaints to the EEOC and allow agency to monitor the work site for the next three years.

“The facts in this case are shocking,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Bill Tamayo. “The manager abused his power and exploited the vulnerabilities of a young male staff. Putting teens at risk in this way can devastate their lives and destroy the company’s own credibility. We trust this case sends a message that the EEOC will not tolerate this type of abuse."

EEOC San Francisco District Director Mike Baldonado noted, “The treatment that these young men experienced was inexcusable. I am glad the EEOC was able to ensure that the company has protections in place so this will not happen in the future.”

In September 2004, EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp (then vice chair) launched the federal agency’s national Youth@Work Initiative -- a comprehensive outreach and education campaign designed to inform teens about their employment rights and responsibilities and to help employers create positive first work experiences for young adults. The EEOC has held more than 3,700 Youth@Work events nationwide since the program was launched, reaching more than 229,000 students, education professionals, and employers. Further information about the Youth@Work campaign, including how to schedule a free Youth@Work outreach presentation, is available on the agency’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/initiatives/youth/index.html. Specific EEOC-related information for teens is available on the Youth@Work web site at http://www.youth.eeoc.gov.

WorldMark by Wyndham (formerly Trendwest) employs several thousand individuals and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Parsippany, N.J.-based Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (NYSE:WYN), the world’s largest hotel franchisor, vacation ownership company and vacation exchange network, which includes chains like Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Ramada Inn, Howard Johnson, and others.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.