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Call Center Accused of Ignoring Sexual Harassment Complaints Settles Suit for $3.5 Million

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced court approval of a $3.5 million payment to resolve a sexual harassment lawsuit against Irvine, California employer Alorica, Inc., a call center and technology services business.  The government alleged the company had condoned repeated, long-term sexual harassment of both male and female customer service employees despite repeated worker complaints.

In settlement, Alorica also agreed to hire a third-party monitor, to create two internal positions (an equal employment opportunity consultant and an internal compliance officer), and to provide sexual harassment training incorporating civility and bystander intervention training for all its employees. The company also agreed to revise its anti-discrimination and retaliation policies and procedures as well as maintain records of any future sexual harassment and retaliation complaints, audits, and reporting.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting workplace discrimination in all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits. Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by such national laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). Similar state legal protections apply to many employers with smaller numbers on payroll.

EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic commended the employees who came forward in this case. She also acknowledged both sides for coming to a resolution that provides relief to the aggrieved individuals and makes “positive changes to the company’s workplace practices.”

The case is another stark and expensive example why employers should take all appropriate preventative measures to prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation including unambiguous “zero tolerance” policies, adequate and regular training, and close adherence to procedures to promptly investigate and resolve employee complaints of harassment of any kind, consulting with experienced legal counsel.

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For further assistance, please contact one of our attorneys Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Cindy Bamforth

August 9, 2018