HR Manager Who Ignored Harassment EEOC's Main Witness

December 16, 2008 ( - Fred Meyer Stores, Inc., part of the Kroger family of companies, will pay $485,000 to three female victims of sexual harassment and retaliation to settle a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the EEOC announced.

According to the announcement, the company’s practice of harassing female employees occurred during 2004 through 2005 at the Fred Meyer Oregon City store. The EEOC asserted in its lawsuit that the store director and operations manager repeatedly subjected females to graphic sexual discussions, unwanted touching, and requests for sexual favors.

The Commission obtained testimony from the company’s human resources manager “who witnessed the harassing conduct on several occasions and simply walked away.” According to the announcement, the company also retaliated against the female employees when they complained about the sexual harassment.

Under the consent decree, in addition to the $485,000 payment, the company also agreed to provide anti-discrimination training for the owner, managers, supervisors and employees; establish policies and procedures to address sexual harassment issues; provide information to the EEOC concerning any future discrimination complaints; and allow EEOC to monitor the work site for the next two years.

“We are hopeful that Fred Meyer Stores learns from this litigation that one of the most important duties it has to its employees is to keep them safe from workplace discrimination,” said EEOC’sSan Francisco District Office Director Mike Baldonado, in the announcement.