Coffee roasting giant Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA has agreed to pay $65,000 plus additional relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC filed the suit more than 11 months ago after a female temporary worker at the company’s headquarters and roasting facility in Suffolk, Virginia, was fired after reporting sexual harassment to her supervisor on at least three occasions, after only two weeks of working there, according to the federal agency.
The EEOC allegations said the harassment included requests for sex and other sexual favors, as well as crude comments and gestures. The agency brought forth the suit after the two parties could not agree on a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC’s conciliation process.
“Employers must take appropriate action to stop harassment of all employees, including temporary workers,” Kara G. Haden, acting regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District, said in an announcement of the settlement. “We hope that this case sends a clear message that the EEOC will hold accountable employers who fail to protect all employees from workplace harassment.”
Importantly, the suit also pointed out that firing a worker in retaliation for sexual harassment also constitutes workplace discrimination and is punishable by federal law.
“Employers must remember they are obligated to take prompt remedial action when they learn about sexual harassment in the workplace,” the EEOC’s Lynette A. Barnes said in an announcement when the suit was filed. “This case is also a reminder that a company must not retaliate after receiving a sexual harassment complaint.”
Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA is a privately held division of Bologna, Italy-based Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group, which owns coffee brands including Kauai Coffee, Chock Full ‘O Nuts, Hills Bros. and the Segafredo Zanetti coffee and retail brand, among numerous others.