A U.S. government agency is suing Los Angeles-based call center company VXI Global Solutions on charges of sexually harassing its male and female employees. Supervisors at the contact center allegedly showed pornographic images and groped their subordinates.
“VXI Global Solutions violated federal law when it failed to stop and remedy the widespread sexual harassment of both female and male workers by company supervisors,” the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday.
The EEOC also alleged that the Los Angeles-based company retaliated against employees who reported the harassment.
Several female and male staff endured an extremely hostile work environment perpetuated by a male floor manager and other supervisors since about 2009, according to the EEOC. Females were subjected to unsolicited groping and touching, constant sexual propositions, and grotesque comments of a sexual nature.
The EEOC also contends that a female assistant supervisor made repeated advances toward male staff with foul descriptions of proposed sexual activity, unwanted lap dances and physical rubbing. Male employees who refused to participate were allegedly subjected to unlawful gender stereotyping in that they were accused of being gay because of their objection to the harasser’s behavior.
The floor manager also allegedly threatened and intimidated both female and male staff to prevent them from making complaints.
Several employees who dared complain to the authorities were reportedly fired in retaliation. In its lawsuit, the EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the class of victims, along with injunctive relief to prevent and address future harassment and retaliation.
“A hostile work environment destroys morale and productivity,” said Rosa Viramontes, acting district director for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District. “Retaliation against workers who report such harassment – which is illegal under federal law – only further corrodes the working environment, creating a chilling effect on the rest of the workforce.”
Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, added, “Ignoring complaints of harassment can quickly grow into an epidemic. Employers who fail to provide meaningful preventive and corrective measures to address harassment in its early stage risk greater systemic problems – and broader liability.”