Lowe’s settles sexual harassment case in Arizona for $700,000
Three Arizona women will receive a total of $700,000 to settle their sex discrimination lawsuit against Lowe’s which alleged more than a decade of “open, notorious and frequent” abuse by a male co-worker.
The American home improvement giant based in Mooresville, North Carolina, settled the lawsuit on September 16. negotiate a settlement for over a year.
One of the women had just turned 56 when she started working as a customer service specialist at a Lowe’s in Lake Havasu City in 2008. Five days a week, she worked side-by-side with a customer service specialist to the clientele who subjected her to “unwelcome sexual behavior on a daily basis”, according to the lawsuit. This conduct, according to the complaint, included referring to the woman as “lunch”, mentioning that she was “coming over” and telling another employee that he would like to see her “tie one up”.
The woman told the male co-worker to stop and reported the harassment to supervisors over a 10-year period before filing a grievance through Lowe’s hotline in 2018, according to the lawsuit. After reporting the harassment, the woman went on short-term disability due to stress and anxiety caused by the continued sexual harassment, according to court documents. Lowe’s response was to force the woman to choose between returning to work with the people who did not protect her from harassment or resigning, according to the complaint.
A second woman, who transferred from Texas to the Lake Havasu City store in 2012, was also harassed by the same male colleague, according to the lawsuit. She said the man described “how he enjoys having sex” and “his sexual performance with his wife”, as well as “statements related to his penis”, according to the complaint. The man also often thrust his hips and simulated oral sex, according to the complaint.
Both women filed grievances with management “repeatedly” in the fall of 2018. Again, there was no action by Lowe’s, according to the complaint. It is unclear why the women waited so many years to contact the complaints hotline. The hotline exists since at least 2013according to Lowe’s Code of Conduct.
“They did all the right things,” Troy Foster, the lead attorney for the two women, said in an email to Phoenix New Times. “After reporting the harassment to their management, the harassment only got worse and they lost their jobs. Harassment cannot be tolerated. »
On Friday, District Court Judge Steven Logan approved a consent decree awarding the two women and a third victim of sexual harassment at the store a total of $700,000 in back wages, medical bills and damages for emotional pain and suffering, according to the court. documents.
The three women declined interviews with New times. A spokesperson for Lowe’s did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“After a four-year battle and 10 years of abuse, our customers aren’t ready to argue because they can’t wait to put this behind them,” said Montana Kint, spokesperson for The Foster Group.
The settlement requires the Lowe’s location in the city of Lake Havasu to revamp its anti-discrimination policy, make a real effort to investigate complaints of sexual harassment, and strengthen employee training on sexual harassment over the next three years. The company was also ordered to provide reference letters to the three victims.
Logan also ordered Lowe’s to forward all new discrimination complaints to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“The EEOC is committed to eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace,” said Casey Arellano, general counsel at the EEOC’s Phoenix office. said in a prepared statement. “Employers must take steps to end any sexual harassment when they become aware of it so workers can focus on their jobs and provide for their families.”
This case is the latest in a series of impassioned legal, labor and public awareness campaigns against big business in Phoenix. Earlier this month, a Phoenix woman sued Lyft for alleged sexual assault.
“We are honored to have represented these courageous women, who have managed to pick themselves up and put their lives back together after being knocked down and dragged into an extremely vulnerable process,” Foster said. “It will probably help countless other women.”
The consent decree and statements from the EEOC and the Foster Group do not say what happened to the man who allegedly harassed the women.