EEOC Settles Suit Charging Male Supervisor Sexually Harassed Male Subordinates

MIAMI -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that national retail giant Dillard’s, Inc. will pay $110,000 and provide significant remedial relief to settle a same-sex harassment lawsuit involving two male victims.

According to the EEOC’s suit, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Dillard’s permitted a sexually hostile work environment for men at its Fashion Square Mall store in Orlando, Fla. The EEOC charged that a male supervisor engaged in verbal and physical sexual harassment of a male sales associate and a young dockworker when the supervisor exposed himself, propositioned the men, and made sexually explicit and derogatory comments. The EEOC said that Dillard’s ignored complaints about the harasser.

“The EEOC will hold corporate America accountable for failing to prevent and correct employment discrimination,” said Commission Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “Sexual harassment charge filings by men have trended upward over the past decade. Employers must be more vigilant in ensuring that men are not subjected to sexually hostile workplaces.”

Under the terms of the EEOC consent decree resolving the case, in addition to paying $110,000 to the two male victims, the Dillard’s Fashion Square Mall store will distribute policies to the workforce on preventing sexual harassment and retaliation; conduct sexual harassment and anti-discrimination training for all employees; train employees who are responsible for investigating sexual harassment complaints; submit to monitoring throughout the decree’s three-year duration; and post a notice about the resolution of the case. Additionally, any future sexual harassment complaints will become part of the alleged harasser’s permanent work file.

The EEOC filed the litigation in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Civil Action No. 6:07-cv-1496-PCF-KRS) in September 2007 after first attempting to reach a settlement out of court.

“The Commission is pleased that the parties were able to reach an amicable resolution of this matter,” said EEOC Miami District Director Jacqueline H. McNair. “This resolution sends a strong message that employers must take appropriate corrective actions in response to harassment complaints.”

EEOC Miami Regional Attorney Nora Curtin added, “Employers must diligently enforce policies to prevent sexual harassment and ensure that managers take same-sex harassment complaints seriously. It is vital to protect both men and women from workplace harassment.”

In Fiscal Year 2008, 13,867 sexual harassment charges were filed with the EEOC and state or local agencies nationwide, an increase of 11 percent from the prior year and the highest level since FY 2002. Of the total sexual harassment charges, 16% were filed by men – up from 12% in the late 1990s.

According to its web site, Little Rock, Ark.-based Dillard’s, Inc. “ranks among the nation’s largest fashion apparel and home furnishings retailers with annual revenues exceeding $6.9 billion. The Company operates approximately 315 Dillard’s locations spanning 29 states.”

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