A company that owns an Arkansas nursing care and rehabilitation facility has agreed to pay $100,000 to former employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit, according to a news release issued Tuesday.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit last year against Happy Valley LLC, the owner of Happy Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation in Malvern, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.
The commission said in the release that the facility’s management ignored sexual harassment complaints made by employees between May 2016 and May 2018 before firing employees who complained.
In September, the commission said it was "common knowledge among Happy Valley employees that if one complained about sexual harassment, the company would terminate the employee. Rather than punishing the harasser, the company would punish those who complained. As a result, several employees decided not to report the harassment for fear of losing their jobs."
On Friday, Senior U.S. District Judge Robert T. Dawson issued a consent decree in the case, reflecting a settlement between the two parties.
The $100,000 settlement will be paid to several of the company’s former employees, the commission said. Happy Valley will also provide sexual harassment and retaliation training for its employees, and it will also create a sexual harassment complaint process explicitly outlined in its policies.
The business denied any wrongdoing.
Delner Franklin-Thomas, director for the EEOC's Memphis District Office, said in the release that sex harassment "remains a persistent problem in numerous work environments."
“We hope this lawsuit sends a message to employers of the importance of having a sexual harassment policy that the employer disseminates in the workplace and the importance of regularly training its employees,” he said.
Jacqueline Kilgore the owner of the facility, wasn't immediately available for comment.