Home health care provider Help at Home, Inc. is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for federal violations the company made by allowing the its regional director to sexually harass employees and then fire those employees for complaining, the EEOC charged in a discrimination lawsuit filed on Wednesday.
In early September 2009, Kari McConnell and Jaclyn Stone, employees at Help at Home, Inc.’s Hillsboro, Mo. office, complained to Sherry Schroetter, the site’s branch manager, that they had been sexually harassed by Chris Qualis, the regional director. That harassment allegedly included graphic sexual comments made to both McConnell and Stone.
When Schroetter complained to the company’s vice president, Rick Cantrell, on the two employees’ behalf, all three were fired.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are prohibited from allowing a sexually hostile environment in the workplace, and employees are protected from retaliation based on their complaints about violation of the law.
The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri after first attempting to reach pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
“We’re well into the 21st century, and by now all employers should be well aware that women must be allowed to work in an environment free of harassment based on sex,” said Barbara A. Seely, regional attorney of the EEOC’s St. Louis District. “The employer must also support employees who come forward to try to complain about sexual harassment and not retaliate against them. The EEOC is committed to eliminating sexual harassment and retaliation for protected activities from the workplace.”
Written by Alyssa Gerace