SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced Feb. 7 that Northwest Territorial Mint, a precious metals dealer in Federal Way, Wash., will pay $725,000 to resolve allegations of sexual harassment.
According to EEOC allegations, Ross Hansen – the owner of the company – sexually harassed female employees to the point they felt they needed to quit. Hansen purportedly made lewd comments to and about female employees. The EEOC sued on behalf of five former employees despite the company filing for bankruptcy.
"The EEOC will not be deterred from prosecuting sexual harassment cases just because a company files for bankruptcy,” said EEOC supervisory trial attorney John Stanley. “If the company is reorganizing, it is in everyone's best interest that awareness and prevention of harassment gets front-loaded into the company's culture."
In addition to monetary penalties, Northwest Territorial Mint will implement stronger sexual harassment policies and practices.
"Sexual harassment laws apply to everyone in the workplace, especially the head of the company, who has a duty to keep all employees safe,” said EEOC Seattle field director Nancy Sienko. “When harassers take advantage of their authority to abuse their victims and keep them silent, the EEOC must fight for workers' rights to a workplace free from discrimination and harassment."