The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against a Sprint authorized retailer in Sacramento, claiming the company didn’t do enough to protect a teen female employee from sexual assault by a manager.
According to the lawsuit, after a 34-year-old manager was transferred to the Elite Wireless Arden Fair Mall location in July 2017, he started touching and making sexual advances toward a 19-year-old female sales clerk. He also sent her social media friend requests and invites, which she rejected.
The suit claims the harassment got worse in November 2017. After a holiday party, the manager invited staff members to a hotel room to continue drinking and celebrating. Around 12:30 a.m., when everyone was leaving, the sales clerk sent a text message to her boyfriend for a ride home.
Once everyone left, the manager allegedly sexually assaulted the sales clerk. She kept fighting him off until she was finally able to escape. She ran out of the hotel and into the parking lot, where her boyfriend was waiting.
The lawsuit says that Elite Wireless Group, the Sprint store’s operator, tried to cover up the incident and denied the sales clerk’s request for a leave of absence or to transfer the manager to a different facility.
The sales clerk eventually requested a transfer for herself to a store about 20 miles away, in Woodland.
The suit alleges that the sales clerk suffered severe emotional distress because of the harassment she endured. She had to miss multiple days of work and was eventually fired.
William Tamayo, EEOC’s San Francisco district director, said the sales clerk was “Employee of the Month” just before she reported the harassment.
“All workers have the right to work free from harassment and discrimination, but it is especially critical that we protect the rights of vulnerable teen employees, when the impact of facing sexual harassment as part of one’s early job experience can be life-altering,” Tamayo said.
Sprint spokeswoman, Lisa Belot, said that the company takes sexual harassment matters seriously and doesn’t tolerate it. “In addition, while the individuals involved are not Sprint employees, we expect our dealers to comply with all applicable laws and expect that Elite Wireless Group will take appropriate action as this process moves forward,” she said.