Duane Reade Inc. to Pay $240,000 to Settle Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Lawsuit

Duane Reade Inc., a drugstore chain that operates more than 200 stores in metropolitan New York, will pay $240,000 and furnish other substantial relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency recently announced.

According to EEOC's lawsuit, Duane Reade unlawfully created, maintained, and failed to remedy a hostile work environment at one of its Bronx stores by subjecting several female employees to sex and pregnancy harassment. The store manager, Madiaw Diaw, frequently made vulgar remarks about women's private parts, sexually propositioned female employees, made lewd comments about their pregnancies, and bodies, assigned unfavorable job duties to pregnant employees, and repeatedly grabbed female employees, including grabbing their buttocks.

Further, EEOC said, the employees who complained and filed discrimination charges with the agency were retaliated against by being subjected to further harassment by their supervisors.

Harassment because of a person's sex or due to her pregnancy and retaliation for complaining about it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. EEOC's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, (Civil Action No. 05-CV-00036) sought monetary relief for the employees who experienced discriminatory treatment; injunctive relief requiring the company to implement policies and practices to prevent future harassment and discrimination; training on anti-discrimination laws; and the posting of notices.

"This settlement achieves the EEOC's objectives by providing appropriate relief to the victims of sexual harassment while implementing appropriate measures to prevent this kind of violation in the future," said Spencer H. Lewis, director of the EEOC's New York District Office.

Monique Roberts, the EEOC's trial attorney assigned to the case, added, "Sexual harassment is a violation of federal law. Employers have a duty to maintain a work environment that is free from sexual harassment and retaliation--it's really that simple."

On its Web site, www.duanereade.com, Duane Reade describes itself as "the most recognized drugstore chain in metropolitan New York."

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