Injunction, Attorney Fees Ordered Against EmCare in EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Case
Federal Judge Enters Final Judgment on Jury Award of Approximately Half a Million Dollars
Upon consideration of a request by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis has directed EmCare, a physician outsourcing group based in Dallas, to end practices of sex discrimination and retaliation and to report any employee claims of sexual harassment to the agency for the next two years. The judge's action follows a jury verdict in October 2014 awarding $499,000 to three former employees in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit the civil rights enforcement agency brought against EmCare.
Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about the harassment violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed suit against EmCare (Civil Action No. 3:11-CV-02017-P) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas after first attempting to reach a settlement through the agency's conciliation process.
Together with an injunction and final judgment against EmCare, the court awarded more than $183,000 in attorney fees to former EmCare Executive Assistant Gloria Stokes and her private counsel. Stokes, who filed a discrimination charge with EEOC, had intervened in the Commission's lawsuit and was awarded $250,000 as punitive damages for sexual harassment.
The injunctive provisions that the court issued against EmCare's Dallas office were based on evidence EEOC presented of a sexually hostile work environment and retaliation against two of Stokes' co-workers, Bonnie Shaw, an EmCare credentialer, and Luke Trahan, a recruiter, who EmCare fired for supporting Ms. Stokes' claims. The jury earlier awarded Shaw and Trahan $82,000 and $167,000, respectively, to compensate for lost wages and benefits as a result of having been fired.
EEOC presented evidence at trial that established an environment rife with constant lewd sexual comments and behavior by Jim McKinney, former CEO of EmCare's AnesthesiaCare Division, as well as by several other management-level employees in that division. The three claimants all testified about the lack of any appropriate response to their complaints about the misconduct by company human resources.
"When our federal judges follow up on jury verdicts with appropriately tailored and specific injunctive orders, so many more people than those who sit in the courtroom benefit," said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for EEOC's Dallas District Office. "Beyond the immediate justice done, orders promoting prevention and accountability can have a longer-lasting impact than a monetary award."
According the court's order of Aug. 5, 2015, EmCare's must stop discriminating against employees based on sex and stop retaliating against employees who complain about or oppose sexual harassment or sex-based discrimination. The court order also requires the company to:
- provide and post notice of the trial, judgment, and anti-harassment policies to employees;
- provide training to its management and non-management employees;
- maintain records pertaining to sex harassment complaints; and
- investigate the complaints raised and report such information to EEOC.
EEOC Trial Attorney Meaghan Shepard said, "The protections against retaliation are very important. Two co-workers spoke up not just for themselves but for the rights of Ms. Stokes and others. It unfortunately cost them their jobs. This order will hopefully change the company culture and assure others that they need not fear adverse action if they inform their bosses about perceived discrimination."
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at www.eeoc.gov.