The EEOC announced on May 5, 2010 that Ohio-based Everdry Marketing and Management, Inc., has paid over $500,000 in damages in interest to satisfy a judgment against that company stemming from a 2006 jury trial. The original claims were filed by 13 women, mostly teenagers at the time of the incidents, who worked at the company’s Rochester, N.Y., location as telemarketers. EEOC v. Everdry Mktg. & Mgmt., Inc., W.D.N.Y., No. 01-cv-6329, judgment satisfied, 5/5/10.
The case originally was filed by the EEOC in 2001 as part of its “Youth@Work” initiative, targeted at training young people about illegal workplace discrimination and harassment. The complaint included claims that male managers and co-workers at the Rochester franchise of Everdry verbally and physically harassed the young women between 1998-2002, making numerous sexual remarks and jokes, and on one occasion, promising a raise in return for sexual acts. Following a multi-week trial in federal court in New York in October of 2006, a jury originally awarded $585,000 in damages to the 13 plaintiffs; that amount ultimately was reduced to $471,096. The jury concluded that the Rochester affiliate at which the incidents occurred was part of an “integrated enterprise,” and that Everdry therefore violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by allowing the harassment.
Afterwards, Everdry appealed the verdict on the basis that as a franchise, the Rochester affiliate was not part of the Everdry company. The 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that argument and affirmed the jury verdict, specifically affirming the award of punitive damages assessed by the jury against the company. Everdry corporate headquarters has paid the judgment – although none of the complained-of incidents occurred at its corporate facilities in Ohio – plus $86,581 in post-judgment interest. The Rochester affiliate is no longer in operation.
This case points out two things: first, that sexual harassment training is extremely important, especially if a company has related or affiliated entities in other geographic locations, and for which it ultimately may be held responsible; and second, that the EEOC is persistent in enforcing federal laws banning workplace discrimination.