On December 21, 2018, the EEOC reported on the jury verdict issued just one day prior, in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Favorite Farms, Inc. The jury awarded compensatory and punitive damages totaling $850,000 against the employer for sexual harassment and retaliation. According to the EEOC’s press release, the female employee “was raped by her supervisor and reported it to police and management the same day…[and] the evidence at trial showed that management…failed to properly investigate the complaint, and instead sent the victim home from work without pay the next work day. Favorite Farms took no action against the harasser…despite evidence that this was not the first complaint of sexual harassment. Instead, Favorite Farms continued retaliating against the victim and forced her to take a leave of absence.” Based on a review of the Court’s docket, any post-trial proceedings will be held in abeyance because, on December 26, 2018, the court granted the EEOC’s motion for a stay and extension of deadlines due to the government shutdown.
Employers must take steps to prevent harassment in the workplace. The EEOC’s continued focus on the elimination of sexual harassment in the workplace is evident in the EEOC’s litigation, guidance, and other initiatives. In June 2016, the Co-Chairs of the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace issued the report of its 18-month study. The Select Task Force recommended various strategies and best practices for the prevention of workplace harassment, including that employers provide meaningful training to their employees in this area. The report can be reviewed, here. In June 2018, the EEOC reconvened that Select Task Force for a meeting addressing workplace harassment in the context of the #MeToo movement. Information on that meeting, entitled “Transforming #MeToo Into Harassment-Free Workplaces” can be found on the EEOC’s website, here.
As part of the EEOC’s recommendations, employers will be well-served to train their employees and managers. We offer harassment training as well as many other training sessions that you can view here. If you have any questions about this post or any other related matters, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.