Excerpted from The National Law Review by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Two operators of a DoubleTree hotel in Jefferson City, Mo., violated federal law when they allowed a male room inspector to sexually harass a female housekeeper, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit today.
According to the EEOC, Vinca Enterprises, Inc. and Puri Group of Enterprises, Inc. (PGEI), which operate this DoubleTree in Missouri’s capital city, failed to stop the room inspector from regularly making offensive sexual comments and engaging in unwanted physical contact with a female house¬keeper.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting it. The EEOC’s suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Vinca Enterprises, Inc. and Puri Group of Enterprises, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:20-cv-04021-NKL) alleges that although management and an owner were aware of the inspector’s unwelcome comments and behavior, Vinca and PGEI failed to investigate or take appropriate action to stop the unlawful harassment and protect the employee.
The EEOC filed its lawsuit after attempting to resolve the case through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary relief, an order prohibiting future sexual harassment, employee training, and new policies and procedures on sexual harassment.
“Sexual harassment in the workplace is always disturbing,” said Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s Regional Attorney in St. Louis. “But this harassment occurred on a frequent basis and continued even after management and one of the owners knew what was happening. The EEOC is here to defend the rights of sexual harassment victims.”
L. Jack Vasquez, director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District office, said, “Management has an obligation to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Companies must realize that offensive and unwelcome sexual comments and conduct are a violation of law.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, including sexual harassment. The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois.