CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced Dec. 22 that a federal jury has awarded $250,000 in compensatory damages to a former employee of Costco Wholesale Inc. The employee allegedly had been harassed and stalked by a customer.
"Costco repeatedly refused to take simple steps to prevent known harassment by a person it could easily ban from its stores or direct to shop at a different store," said Laura Feldman, EEOC's trial attorney.
According to the EEOC, Costco failed to take action to prevent a male customer from harassing and stalking one of its employees. The customer purportedly stalked the employee at the company’s Glenview, Illinois, store for more than a year. The EEOC said the harassment included unwelcome touches and advances. The commission also argued that Costco knew about the harassment but took no action, which created a hostile work environment for the employee.
"Today's verdict reinforces EEOC's commitment to protecting every woman's right to a safe, secure, and fair workplace," said Julianne Bowman, district director of EEOC's Chicago District, which includes Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and most of Illinois.
"It sends a clear message to employers that they cannot sit idly by when their employees are harassed in the workplace." said regional attorney for the Chicago District Office John Hendrickson. "This case is an important reminder that employers have a duty to protect its employees from harassment by customers. "