Posted On: August 20, 2009 by Peter M. LaSorsa

PetSmart Throws Bone To EEOC and Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

PetSmart, Inc., the nation’s leading retailer of services and products for pets, agreed to pay $125,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve a federal sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit female employees were subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment by a store manager. The store manager’s sexually offensive conduct and comments included repeatedly grabbing his genitals while talking to female employees and making explicit sexual comments and sexual innuendoes.

PetSmart not only failed to take prompt and effective action to stop the sexual harassment but engaged in unlawful retaliation against a female manager after she complained. The store manager allegedly yelled at the woman, belittled her in front of subordinates, followed her around the store and disciplined her despite her good job performance. As a result of the unrelenting harassment and unwarranted retaliation, the EEOC said, she was forced to quit her job. In additional to the cash settlement, PetSmart agreed to mandatory EEO training of all managers, supervisors and employees about employee rights and employer obligations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“We filed this lawsuit because all employees have the right to complain about sexual harassment without suffering unlawful reprisals,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence. “We are pleased that the parties were able to resolve this matter and that PetSmart agreed to a variety of corrective measures designed to prevent future problems in the workplace.”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964makes it unlawful to sexually harass an employee and to retaliate against someone who complains about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 08-cv-3527, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court.

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