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Beware the ever-expanding EEOC harassment lawsuit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Here’s a worry for employers facing sexual harassment charges: If the EEOC decides to take up the case, it can expand the charges to include employees who never actually complained about the harassment and aren’t even around anymore.

Recent case: The EEOC received four complaints from women who worked for a North Carolina KFC franchise. Each woman claimed harassment by a male co-worker. Each said she had complained to a supervisor, who did nothing.

The EEOC sued on behalf of the four women and then added a fifth woman who no longer worked at the restaurant and who never complained to anyone, including the EEOC.

The franchise wanted the fifth claim dismissed, but the court said the EEOC was free to pursue that case even though the woman wasn’t actively participating in it. (EEOC v. Underwood, et al., No. 5:09-CV-387, ED NC, 2011)

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