Florida Security Agency hit with $1.34M Harassment Award

March 13, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal court jury in North Florida has returned a $1.34 million sexual harassment and retaliation verdict against a local security agency.

A news release from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said that the verdict in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida was rendered against Associated Security Enforcement, Inc. for violations of federal civil rights laws.

According to the EEOC’s 2004 lawsuit against Associated, four female former employees were subject to a sexually hostile workplace from May 2002 until July 2003. The harassment took the form of “egregious” acts of verbal and physical sexual conduct on the part of one of the company’s owners. Associated Security failed to stop the harassment, despite complaints to the company’s co-owner, the EEOC news release said.

The allegations in the EEOC suit included the company’s owner

  • groping one of the women’s breasts,
  • requesting sex in exchange for money,
  • inviting the women for overnight stays, and
  • frequently requesting oral sex.

After a two-day trial, the jury provided $35,000 each to two of the four women and $25,000 each to the other two women to compensate them for the emotional pain and suffering they endured. The jury also assessed punitive damages against Associated Security in the amount of $300,000 each for all four women. In addition, the jury granted plaintiffs’ request for back pay totaling approximately $17,000 for two of the women.

The EEOC said that one of the female victims was the company’s former human resources officer. She testified that the company owner tried to cover up the illegal conduct by ordering her to falsify the personnel records of the employees who had filed sexual harassment charges with the EEOC.