Home care provider pays $340K for client harassment
- R. MacArthur Corp. (RMC), a senior care provider, has agreed to pay $340,000 to settle race and sex harassment claims based on client actions, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- RMC, a franchisee of Home Instead Senior Care, ignored complaints from its in-home caregivers, who said a client repeatedly groped them and made racially and sexually offensive comments to them, according to a suit EEOC filed on behalf of the employees. RMC also retaliated against one of the plaintiffs by refusing to giver her assignments, it alleged.
- RMC will pay damages to five former employees. Its owner and operator, San Oak Caring Hands, will conduct anti-harassment training and adopt policies that emphasize prevention, investigation and prompt correction.
Employers can be held liable for failing to stop employee harassment not only by co-workers, but also by non-employees, such as clients and vendors. Just weeks ago, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict for a Costco employee who alleged that the company failed to address a sexually hostile work environment created by a customer. A jury awarded her $250,000 and, on appeal, the 7th Circuit noted that harassment need not be "overtly sexual" to constitute actionable discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
In the same way that HR must take complaints about co-workers seriously, it also must follow up on complaints about non-employees. And if allegations rise to the level of actionable harassment, experts recommend that HR conduct a good-faith investigation, interview witnesses, document the discussions and, if evidence of harassment is discovered, implement remedial measures designed to ensure the misconduct does not continue.