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Aaron Rents settles harassment case, but still faces civil suit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

East St. Louis-based Aaron Rents has settled a sexual harassment case brought by the EEOC on behalf of Ashley Alford, an employee at the company’s Fairview Heights store.

Alford started working at the store in her late teens. Almost immediately, her manager began requesting sex from her. She complained to the manager’s boss and even called the company hotline, but the company took no action.

The manager’s behavior escalated; he repeatedly exposed himself to her and finally cornered her in a company warehouse and sexually assaulted her.

The consent decree calls for increased sexual harassment training at Aaron Rents. The company must report all sexual harassment complaints to the EEOC for the duration of the decree.

Even though it settled with the EEOC, Aaron’s faces more litigation from Alford. She has opted out of the EEOC settlement and is seeking monetary damages on her own.

Note: The EEOC often focuses on injunctive relief—calling for employers to restore victims of discrimination to their jobs or seeking proof that an employer has put a halt to discriminatory practices. But settlements don’t always settle every case. Sometimes aggrieved former employees are harder to mollify than the EEOC.

That just reinforces the value of prevention. It’s not enough to set up systems for receiving sexual harassment complaints. You must have the ability to investigate and remedy the situation as well.

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