Last week, the EEOC reached a $1.02 million settlement with Vail Run Community Resort Association, Inc. and its management company, Global Hospitality Resorts, Inc. The settlement came after the EEOC sued based on its allegations that a housekeeping manager, Omar Quezada, repeatedly sexually harassed female subordinates. The settlement will resolve the claims of 8 female employees.
This case certainly caught my eye because of the size of the settlement, but also because of the other obligations set forth in the consent settlement decree. Pursuant to the settlement, there are some relatively minor “extras,” for example, giving favorable references and apology letters to the former employees.
The settlement also requires regular training on harassment and discrimination and, more unusually, the appointment of a monitor to assess compliance with the decree. This is not a simple one-off check-in to see if the the companies are complying with the settlement. Instead, the companies will have to pay an outside monitor for five years.
Under the settlement, the Spanish speaking monitor will insure that semi-annual training is conducted and will regularly be interviewing employees to determine if harassment or discrimination is occurring. The monitor will also have to review any and all charges of discrimination during this time period.
If this were a Roadrunner cartoon, that outside monitor would be represented by a 1 ton weight hanging over Wile E. Coyote’s head. Granted, there are rather serious allegations in the complaint and the supervisor in question has already been criminally convicted of unlawful sexual contact and felony extortion, so this is not your usual discrimination claim.
I think most employers would not relish having a monitor coming into the workplace and speaking with employees. It may seem counter-intuitive but this is why you want to encourage employees to come to you with complaints, no matter how minor. If you have an open door policy and then actually investigate the complaints that arise, you, hopefully, are dealing with much less severe situations and resolving them without the employee ever needing to get the EEOC involved.