A Los Angeles-based call center that provides services for Verizon, DirecTV and other companies was sued Wednesday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for the alleged sexual harassment of male and female employees by supervisors.
The EEOC contends that VXI Global Solutions retaliated against employees who reported the harassment, which federal prosecutors allege included unsolicited groping and frequent sexual propositioning of staff.
A request for comment left with the company was not immediately answered.
The EEOC alleges 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 subjected to unlawful gender stereotyping in that they were accused of being gay because of their objection to the harasser’s behavior, the EEOC contends.
Once VXI Global’s supervisors and/or human resources personnel were eventually advised of the harassment, several of the alleged victims were subsequently disciplined and terminated in retaliation between 2010 and 2011, according to the lawsuit.
“Ignoring complaints of harassment can quickly grow into an epidemic,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District. “Employers who fail to provide meaningful preventive and corrective measures to address harassment in its early stage risk greater systemic problems — and broader liability.”
The lawsuit, which alleges there are at least nine victims, seeks seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and 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 in Los Angeles. “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.”
— City News Service