An Irvine company that operates customer support call centers around the world will pay $3.5 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of victims of sexual harassment and related retaliation at two of the company’s work sites, it was announced Wednesday.
According to the EEOC, female and male employees of Alorica Inc. were subjected to harassment, including a sexually hostile work environment, by managers and co-workers. The EEOC further alleged that the company’s human resources staff failed to properly address the harassment despite repeated complaints by employees.
Tania King, Alorica’s chief legal and employee experience officer, disputed the allegations, telling reporters that the company agreed to the settlement to avoid protracted litigation. She said the company would have been “vindicated” if the case had gone to trial.
The $3.5 million will be distributed among 44 victims of harassment from the Fresno and Clovis facilities. In addition to the monetary relief, Alorica agreed to a three-year consent decree, which includes the hiring of a third-party monitor, the creation of an internal equal employment opportunity consultant and internal compliance officer and sexual harassment training for employees.
During a news conference in downtown Los Angeles, two female former employees of Alorica detailed their allegations, including unwelcome, continuous sexual comments by male supervisors and co-workers.
One ex-employee said she was told by a supervisor that she had “take me to the bedroom-type looks,” was repeatedly asked if she wanted to have sex, and was subjected to frequent comments about her breasts.
Another ex-Alorica staffer said she was subjected to unwanted touching of a sexual nature by male supervisors and co-workers, including grabbing her buttocks and thighs, and brushing up against her breasts.
According to the complaint, male employees alleged they were subjected to unwelcome sexual discussion by their female supervisors and co-workers.
As part of the settlement, the company agreed to revise its anti-discrimination and retaliation policies and procedures as well as maintain records of any future sexual harassment and retaliation complaints.
“Sexual harassment continues to be a pressing issue in our region and we urge employers to take more proactive measures to prevent such misconduct,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles office. “We commend Alorica for working with the EEOC to create and implement measures that will prevent future abuses.”
According to its website, Alorica provides customer management in the form of third-party call centers and technology services. The company employs 100,000 workers across 16 countries, in 140 locations.
King said that since Alorica and the EEOC came to a mutual agreement to resolve the suit, the employees’ complaints “remain allegations.” She added that various levels of employees — but no executives or senior management — were terminated or otherwise disciplined as a result of the company’s own investigation.