Dollar General Settles EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $70,000
Red Banks, Miss., Store Ignored Complaints About Manager's Abuse of Female Employees, Federal Agency Charged
OXFORD, Miss. - Dolgencorp, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of retail chain Dollar General Corporation, will pay $70,000 and provide other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the store manager at Dollar General's Red Banks, Miss., store subjected a female sales associate to unwanted sexually laced comments, text messages, and gestures. Although other female employees had previously complained about the same manager, the harassment continued. Dollar General continued to employ the manager for several months after the sales associate's initial complaint, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in February 2017 (EEOC v. Dolgencorp, LLC, d/b/a Dollar General Stores, Inc., Case No. 3:17-cv-00023-MPM-RP) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi at Oxford after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Besides the monetary relief, the consent decree approved by Judge Michael P. Mills:
- enjoins Dollar General's stores in the district of the Red Banks store from unlawful sexual harassment in the future;
- requires mandatory sexual harassment training, with civility and bystander intervention training, to all employees, including the district manager, store manager, and assistant store manager;
- requires annual training for the store manager, district manager, regional directors and human resource managers within the district of the Red Banks store;
- requires Dollar General to notify the EEOC of future sexual harassment complaints; and
- requires annual reporting to the EEOC during the decree's18-month term, to include reporting of future sexual harassment complaints and training.
"While the recent #Me Too movement has shone a light on the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, the EEOC has long remained on the front lines litigating these types of cases on behalf of victims, including vulnerable women in low-wage industries such as the retail, warehousing and food services industries in the South," said Regional Attorney Faye Williams of EEOC's Memphis District Office, which serves Tennessee, Arkansas and Northern Mississippi. "The EEOC will continue to bring these lawsuits. Employers who allow their supervisors or managers to subject their employees to sexually harassing behavior can expect that serious repercussions will follow."
EEOC Trial Attorney Markeisha Savage added, "As we have said time and time again, having an anti-harassment policy that looks good on paper does not satisfy federal prohibitions against sexual harassment in the workplace. In fact, in this day and age, one would expect a corporation as large as Dollar General to already have such a firm policy in place and seriously enforced. In addition to having an anti-harassment policy, employers must also enforce it. An unenforced anti-harassment policy is tantamount to having no policy at all."
Headquartered in Goodlettsville, Tenn., Dollar General represents one of the largest discount retailers in the United States. According to company information, it operates over 14,600 stores in 44 states and plans to open 900 new stores in fiscal year 2018. Dollar General employs approximately 129,000 people.