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2004-08-21
Tampa, FL. Feds Sue Wal-Mart Over Sexual Groping Case

They say that Wal-Mart is the only retailer in America that has more lawsuits than swimsuits. The Tampa Tribune today reports that Wal-Mart can add another lawsuit to its wide selection. The Equal Employmenet Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a branch of the United States government, has sued Wal-Mart, charging that managers at its Bradenton, Florida store repeatedly sexually harassed female employees. According to the EEOC claim, from 2001 to 2003, the grocery store manager groped two women and subjected them to sexually suggestive comments and actions. One of the women "associates" at Wal-Mart resigned in January of 2003, because of harassment. The Wal-Mart grocery manager was not mentioned by name in the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Tampa. The retailer would not comment on the case except to say, "Out of respect for the privacy of all associates, Wal- Mart does not publicly speak about a specific claim that an associate may bring. Wal- Mart's policy is that we do not tolerate harassment of any kind. Not only is harassment a violation of Wal-Mart's policy, but it also goes directly against one of our three basic beliefs: respect for the individual.'' The two female Wal-Mart workers charge that the manager tried to touch, grab and fondle them. They say he made sexually suggestive comments, asked for sex and exposed himself. The lawsuit also claims the manager subjected other female employees to similar harassment. "The conduct was sufficiently severe and pervasive to constitute an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment,'' the EEOC said. "The EEOC found the company had violated the law,'' she said Friday. The Tribune says that EEOC officials tried to meet with Wal-Mart managers and resolve the complaint, but the feds were not satisfied with the retailer's effort to resolve the situation. The lawsuit seeks payment for the women, and a court order against Wal-Mart mandating that they establish policies to end sexual harassment. This case could take a year or longer to reach a settlement or judgement.

What you can do: A female Wal-Mart worker who also suffered from sexual harassment, and serious sexual assault on the job, once wrote to me: "Wal-Mart says their policy is 'respect for the individual' and I believe that's true. Only, I never met that individual -- because I certainly never got any respect." For similar stories, search this database by "sexual" or "EEOC".











 
 
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