Lowe’s will pay $700,000 and provide other relief for sexual harassment discrimination the company and its store supervisors allowed to go on for years, according to a lawsuit settlement with U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The complaints stem from one male Lowe’s employee at the Lake Havasu City, Arizona, store who allegedly made daily sexual comments and innuendos, including calling one woman “lunch” and simulating oral sex, the EEOC said in its lawsuit filed Aug. 30 in federal district court in Arizona.
Despite more than one female co-worker repeatedly complaining to store management, the Mooresville-based home improvement chain and its management did not take steps to promptly prevent or remedy sexually harassing behavior in the workplace, the EEOC said in the complaint.
In addition to providing for $700,000 in damages for three women, Lowe’s Lake Havasu City store also must revise its anti-discrimination policies, promptly investigate complaints of sexual harassment, and train all employees on sexual harassment, according to the three-year consent decree settlement filed Friday.
Lowe’s also must provide letters of reference for the three women, the EEOC settlement states.
“Employers must take action to stop all sexual harassment when they become aware of it so that workers can focus on doing their jobs and providing for their families,” Casey Arellano, the EEOC’s district office trial attorney in Phoenix, said in a statement.
Lowe’s will not comment on the lawsuit, company officials told The Charlotte Observer on Monday.
Since at least 2009, Lowe’s created a hostile work environment for several women at the Lake Havasu City store because of a male coworker’s unwelcome and inappropriate sexual comments or innuendos on a daily basis, according to the EEOC complaint.
He regularly referred to one woman as “lunch,” commented on her appearance, made sexual remarks to and about her, including telling another co-worker that he would like to see her “strap one on,” according to the EEOC lawsuit.
Another female Lowe’s employee said he would say “how he likes to have sex, his sexual performance with his wife, and make statements related to his penis,” according to the EEOC lawsuit.
She also saw him “thrust his hips and simulate oral sex and witnessed his regular comments” to the other female employee.
Despite repeated complaints to Lowe’s managers, who were aware of and at times present when the male employee acted inappropriately, they failed to stop it, according to the EEOC filing.
One of the women filed for short-term disability in 2018 “due to the stress and anxiety she suffered” from his continued sexual harassment, according to the EEOC lawsuit.
She was allegedly forced to resign “due to the intolerable working conditions Lowe’s imposed on her and the sexual harassment she endured because of her sex.”
The two women filed charges with the EEOC against Lowe’s in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and part of New Mexico.
This story was originally published September 19, 2022 2:20 PM.
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