Call centre company settles sex harassment suit alleging groping, sex propositions, lap dances

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – A Los Angeles-based international call centre company agreed to pay $600,000 to settle complaints from male and female workers who said they endured sexual harassment that included groping, propositions and an unwanted lap dance.

In a consent decree approved Friday in federal court, VXI Global Solutions settled a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of six women and three men.

Women were groped, propositioned for sex and subjected to lewd comments about their bodies in behaviour that dated back five years, the EEOC said. Comments were made about having a threesome with a worker and someone joked about raping a colleague, it said.

At least seven of the employees who complained were fired after being intimidated or disciplined, officials said.

The company, which has 15,000 employees in the U.S., Asia and Latin America, did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement.

The company has always denied the allegations and it made a business decision to settle rather than litigate, company attorney Aileen Tang said in a statement.

The EEOC said when the suit was filed last year that it was unusual to have sexual harassment directed at both men and women.

Female supervisors made repeated sexual advances toward the men, provided unwanted backrubs and, in one instance, tried to perform a lap dance, the lawsuit said.

When men spurned the attention, their sexual orientation was questioned, the agency said.

Under the consent decree, the company agreed to revise its policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment and retaliation, and train all employees nationwide. It will also survey employees in Los Angeles, Texas and Ohio offices.

The company also has offices in China, the Philippines, Colombia, Guatemala and El Salvador, according to its website.

The EEOC will monitor the company for four years to make sure it complies with the law.