Friday, September 13, 2002
EEOC Files Sexual Harassment Suit Against Travel Agency
By LORELEI LAIRD Staff Writer
A federal agency yesterday sued a popular online travel agency for allegedly allowing employees to be sexually harassed, then firing one woman when she complained.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed its class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Cheap Tickets, Inc., its parent company, Cendant Corporation, and 10 defendants named only as Does 1-10. In its complaint, the EEOC alleges that Cheap Tickets ignored female employee Latasha Scott’s complaints of sexual harassment. In retaliation for either her original complaints or her communications to the EEOC, the complaint said, Cheap Tickets fired Scott, prompting the lawsuit. The alleged harassment took place in a Los Angeles County Cheap Tickets office that has since closed.
Trial attorney Sue J. Noh of the EEOC said Scott and “a class of similarly situated” female employees were subjected to unwelcome propositions, inappropriate genital touching, “really bad” sexual comments from male managers and managers positioning themselves such that their genitals would touch the women’s bodies, starting in or around 2000. Complaints from Scott were ignored, Noh said, and Cheap Tickets failed to act even after Scott brought her concerns to the EEOC.
“Despite the complaints of these women, the company failed to act in an appropriate manner,” Noh said. “The fact that [Scott] complained about it seems to have resulted in a minor fabricated offense against the charging party.”
The EEOC is asking the court to order Cheap Tickets to start practicing equal employment opportunity policies and grant an injunction prohibiting it from sex discrimination or retaliating against “whistle-blowers.” It also asks the court to grant the plaintiffs in the suit up to $300,000 each in back pay, front pay and damages.
Working with Noh as counsel for the plaintiffs are EEOC Trial Attorney Gregory L. McClinton and Regional Attorney Anna Y. Park.
Telephone calls seeking comment from New Jersey-based Cendant Corporation were not returned by the end of the business day yesterday. Elliot Bloom, president of Cendant’s media relations department, said he hadn’t heard of the complaint.
Dawn Lyon, a spokeswoman for Cheap Tickets, said because she had not seen the specific complaint, she couldn’t comment on it. However, she said, “Cheap Tickets does not tolerate harassment, and we’re committed to providing a positive work environment.”
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company