In a meeting with the owner of Elora Jean & Co., you were advised of a charge an employee recently filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The charge states that two female employees in one of the non-union satellite offices were subject to repeated and unwelcome sexual advances by their male supervisor, who is on a work visa. The charge further states that the two women previously complained to the supervisor’s immediate superior letting him know they felt uncomfortable and would like the behavior to stop. The harassment did not stop, but rather, it continued over a period of three months. At that point, the female employees decided that the company would not help. They decided to file a claim with the EEOC, stating they were being sexually harassed at work.
The owner is certain the company can put together a response that will clear them of the charge. He asked if you felt they had a ‘pretty good case.'” You state that you are not legal counsel for Elora Jean & Co. However, you request permission to investigate the claim before giving your thoughts on the company’s policy documentation for a legal defense.
Given your knowledge of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, you are concerned with Elora Jean & Co.’s ability to defend the EEOC charge. You plan to engage in your own investigation into the claim to learn more about the complaints made, who had knowledge, what type of investigation was conducted (if any), and what actions were taken.
As you prepare your strategy for investigating the claim, consider the following:
What is the legal definition for sexual harassment?
What investigation process should Elora Jean & Co. have engaged in when the claims were first made? Why will that be important to the defense of the EEOC charge?
What is the legal liability for Elora Jean & Co. if the EEOC investigation finds the charge to be factual with employer knowledge of the events? Consider the options of mediation vs. litigation with regard to organizational cost.
What should Elora Jean & Co. do to prevent this type of charge in the future?
What are your overall recommendations for the owner with regard to preparing a response to the EEOC charge?
How should Elora Jean & Co. address a harassment case when it involves employees with a work visa? Consider any special circumstances in employment law dealing with harassment and foreign labor in the workplace?
The following links may be useful to you in this process:
EEOC Investigations: What an Employer Should Know
Sexual Harassment: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964