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EEOC Sues Amy’s Country Candles for Retaliation

Amy's Country Candles L.L.C., a Harvey, La.-based manufacturer and purveyor of scented candles, violated federal law by firing an employee for complaining about sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a recently filed lawsuit.

The EEOC's suit alleges that the Amy's store in the Tanger Outlet Mall in Gonzales, La., fired an employee, an assistant manager, because she complained about sexual harassment by the son of the store owner. The employee complained directly to the owner the day of the alleged harassment. Four days later, the employee, who had no job-related problems, was fired because, according to the owner, the employee "continued with the matter."

Retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment or discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-06565) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks, among other things, monetary relief for the former employee; the adoption of policies and procedures to remedy and prevent all forms of discrimination and retaliation; and training on anti-harassment and discrimination laws for all employees and managers at Amy's Country Candles.

"Federal and established Supreme Court law are very clear on this issue," said Rayford O. Irvin, director of the EEOC's Houston District Office, which serves Louisiana and East Texas. "Employees have a right to complain about practices they view as unlawful without repercussions. This woman fairly sought to assert that right and was unlawfully and unconscionably fired for it. The EEOC is here to fight for the rights of people in such a situation."

Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the EEOC's Houston District Office, added, "Companies that punish employees for complaining about sexual harassment or any other unlawful misconduct are only making a bad situation worse for themselves. The EEOC will aggressively ensure that employees are free to exercise their rights without fear of retaliation."

People in Louisiana or East Texas who believe they may have been unlawfully retaliated against or subject to discrimination may contact the EEOC at (713) 651-4967.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.