The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit charging a security firm with subjecting its male employees to sexual harassment and retaliation.
The company, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Metro Special Police & Security Services Inc., is denying the charges.
The EEOC said Jan. 22 that Metro subjected three named employees and other "similarly situated" male workers to sexual harassment by a captain and a lieutenant in the company.
In a statement, the agency said the captain made offensive comments to his male subordinates, solicited nude pictures from them, asked male employees to undress in front of him and solicited male employees for sex. The EEOC also said the captain touched the male employees and offered them promotions in exchange for sex.
In addition, the captain and lieutenant forced male employees to accompany them to gay strip bars while on duty. The lieutenant also asked a male employee if he had sex with males or females, according to the EEOC.
The employees asked the captain and lieutenant to stop, and complained to their supervisors and the company's owner and CEO as well, but the company failed to correct the harassment. Certain employees who complained were suspended, demoted and/or discharged, the EEOC said.
The lawsuit accuses the firm of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"All employees, men and women alike, are entitled to a workplace free from sexual harassment," Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC's Charlotte, North Carolina, district office, said in a statement. "It is particularly alarming when sexual harassment is perpetrated by a high-ranking supervisor, the company shuns its legal responsibility to stop it and employees suffer retaliatory acts for lawfully voicing their concerns."
Metro's attorney, William P. Bray, founding member of Charlotte-based law firm Bray & Long P.L.L.C., said in a statement: "We've only now begun to review in detail the allegations but are generally aware of what the EEOC is alleging and—on behalf of the company and its ownership—vehemently dispute that Metro Special Police violated any laws in handling the allegations when they were brought to the ownership's attention.
"At all times, Metro Special Police worked diligently to provide a safe workplace environment for all of its employees. Metro Special Police is not at fault here under any theory of law as claimed by the EEOC."
Judy Greenwald writes for Business Insurance. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.