Injunction Should Have Been Issued Barring Harasser From Premises, 2nd Circuit Decides
The case involves a store manager who in addition to a romantic relationship with the store’s owner, was alleged to have repeatedly subjected female store staff to verbal and physical sexual harassment. When the employees complained to the store owner, she believed the manager’s denials that the incidents occurred. The store owner eventually terminated the manager after complaints were filed with the EEOC, but maintained her romantic relationship with the manager. The manager also continued to be a presence in the store in his new capacity as a produce contractor for the company. The EEOC sought a 10-year injunction that would have barred him from being re-employed by the company and from coming on the premises, but the district court denied the order.
The Second Circuit points out that the longstanding romantic relationship with the store owner was the “primary reason” his harassment went unchecked for years, subjecting an entire class of young female employees to a sexually hostile working environment. Absent an injunction, nothing prevents the store owner from once again hiring him as an employee, and his status as the fiancé of the store owner “renders it likely that he will remain a presence at the store,” the Court says in reversing the lower court’s decision. EEOC v. Karenkim Inc.