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Ocala firm pays for tolerating same-sex harassment

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law

Prestige Home Centers, a mobile-home manufacturer based in Ocala, has agreed to pay $79,000 to several male employees who claimed a male supervisor at the company’s Lake City facility verbally harassed, groped and propositioned them.

They contended that the company refused to investigate their allegations and retaliated against one of the men who complained.

The men filed a complaint with the EEOC, which investigated and attempted to mediate the dispute. When those efforts failed, the commission filed suit in federal court. That’s when Prestige decided to settle.

As part of the settlement, Prestige agreed to a three-year consent decree that included an injunction against the company from further permitting or engaging in sexual harassment or retaliation.

In addition to paying the men, Prestige must also post a notice about the settlement, adopt new sexual harassment policies, form a sexual harassment committee, conduct anti-discrimination training and report to the EEOC any sex discrimination complaints it receives. The EEOC will continue to monitor the company.

Advice: Ignoring same-sex harassment is just asking for trouble. Investigate all sexual harassment complaints quickly and professionally. Just because the alleged harasser and victim are of the same sex doesn’t mean the complaint is frivolous. Under the law, the victim is still being harassed because of his or her gender.

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