- Draper Development LLC, the owner-operator of more than a dozen Subway franchises in upstate New York has agreed to pay $80,000 to settle claims that one of its managers offered to hire two teenagers in exchange for sex.
- In a lawsuit filed on their behalf, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged that the former general manager at the company's Rotterdam Square Mall Subway store sent text messages to two 17-year-old female applicants offering each of them a job in exchange for sex. The women did not comply and were not hired, according to EEOC. The alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sexual harassment, including requesting sexual favors in exchange for jobs and refusing to hire applicants who do not comply with sexual advances, the commission said in a press release announcing the settlement.
- Draper also agreed to distribute a revised policy prohibiting sexual harassment; conduct anti-harassment training for managers and employees; post a public notice about the settlement and report all sexual harassment complaints to EEOC.
Conditioning hiring on sexual favors is known as "quid-pro-quo sexual harassment." Employers are "automatically liable" for harassment by a supervisor that results in a negative employment action such as termination, failure to promote or hire, and loss of wages, according to an EEOC guidance.
As the #MeToo movement took hold — and EEOC made related enforcement a national priority — many employers have taken a second look at their sexual harassment prevention efforts. Compliance training for supervisors and front-line managers has long been considered an important aspect of preventing discrimination and harassment. Experts regularly cite front-line managers as a major cause of federal anti-discrimination law violations.
Experts also recommend that employers establish, regularly distribute and consistently enforce a policy prohibiting harassment and set out a complaint procedure. When employees lodge a complaint, employers must take complaints seriously; HR professionals need to be approachable, Jonathan Segal, a partner at Duane Morris, advised attendees at the Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM) annual conference, held earlier this year. Segal suggested that both HR and front-line managers should be trained to say, "Thank you for raising your concerns with me. I want you to know we take them seriously."
Moreover, complaint procedures should allow employees to report concerns to multiple individuals, in case his or her immediate supervisor or HR rep is the alleged harasser, EEOC has said.
Finally, an investigation done in good faith that ends with a "well-reasoned conclusion" is key to avoiding liability for harassment claims, Pavneet Singh Uppal told attendees at the SHRM conference.