PHOENIX — The GEO Group Inc., will pay $550,000 as part of a consent decree to settle two lawsuits for sexual harassment and retaliation filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Arizona Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General's Office (ACRD).
The EEOC and ACRD suits against GEO, operator of the Central Arizona Correctional Facility, alleged several forms of sexual harassment and retaliation occurred at the facility between 2006 and 2012. The charges include a male manager grabbing and pinching a female correctional officer's breasts and crotch and a male employee forcing a female employee onto a desk, shoving her legs apart and kissing her. The suit also alleged several instances of verbal harassment including supervisors making sexually explicit comments to female officers. The EEOC and ACRD also alleged GEO retaliated against female employees who complained about the sexual harassment.
In 2010 a U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona dismissed the claims on behalf of the class of women identified during the litigation and ruled that some of allegations did not rise to the level of actionable harassment. The case was appealed, and the Ninth Circuit Court reversed the lower court's decision.
"Sexual harassment has no place in the work environment," said EEOC Phoenix District office regional attorney Mary Jo O'Neill in a news release. "This kind of misconduct is degrading and inexcusable and violates federal anti-discrimination laws. We are proud of these women for standing up and helping to end this sexually hostile work environment."