BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC, a subsidiary of BellSouth Corporation now owned by AT&T, will pay $120,000 to two former employees to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2010.
The EEOC charged that two of BellSouth's female employees were sexually harassed by the male manager of the Kennesaw, Ga., call center where they were employed. Immediately upon the manager's arrival at the call center, he began making inappropriate sexual comments in sales meetings. Specifically, in his very first meeting with his sales managers he made sexually inappropriate statements and panto¬mimed engaging in sexual intercourse on the floor of the conference room.
The manager called one woman a "b---h" during a telephone conference with one of his managers, the EEOC said. He routinely and continually talked about sex and asking out women as analogies when giving speeches in sales meetings, and would make sexual comments about the women's attire. The manager would also hug the women unwantedly when greeting them and move his hand down their backs toward their posteriors when he did so.
When the two employees com¬plained, the EEOC said, BellSouth retaliated against them by denying them promotions and demoting them. All this alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from subjecting employees to discrim¬ination on the basis of sex and from retaliating against employees who complain about such discrimination. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit, in addition to the monetary relief, includes provisions for equal employment opportunity training and reporting and posting of anti-discrimination notices. In the lawsuit and consent decree, BellSouth denied any liability or wrongdoing.
"The Commission is pleased that BellSouth agreed to resolve this matter and to take the necessary steps to ensure compliance with the law," said Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "This is a further reminder that employers must protect their workers from harassment and not punish them when they complain."
BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC is an operating company belonging to Atlanta-based BellSouth Corporation, which in turn is owned by AT&T. BellSouth Telecommunications provides telephone, Internet and related services in the Southeastern United States.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.