SARASOTA — SunTrust Bank agreed to a $300,000 settlement in a case where federal authorities alleged that a branch manager in Sarasota subjected three female employees to ongoing sexual harassment.
The case was a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The allegations against the manager, according to a release, include: He repeatedly trapped a 20-year-old female behind the teller counter with his body; he told a woman she should wear a bathing suit to work; and he frequently caressed and gabbed a female employee. The EEOC complaint also alleges the manager would “stare at, and comment on, the breasts and bodies of SunTrust's female clients who came into the branch.”
SunTrust officials, in a statement, say they are pleased to have reached an agreement to resolve the case. “SunTrust has a strong commitment to a harassment-free work environment,” the statement reads. “This was an isolated matter, and the accused team member is no longer employed at the company. In accordance with our policy, this matter was promptly and fully investigated when made known to SunTrust.”
But EEOC officials claim “numerous complaints by female employees to the assistant branch manager and other SunTrust branch managers were ignored.” The agency adds that once human resources did become involved, the bank still failed to take “sufficient action to stop the harassment.” The EEOC further alleges that the branch manager voluntarily resigned during the investigation and was subsequently rehired by the bank.
In addition to the $300,000, SunTrust, under the agreement with the EEOC, will have to make several other changes. The bank, according to the release, is now required to conduct annual training for its managers and human resources personnel in Southwest Florida. The EEOC will be able to watch the training through live streaming video. SunTrust has also agreed to post a notice about the lawsuit in its Southwest Florida branches and report future sexual harassment complaints to the EEOC.
“We trust that the additional training and requirement to report sexual harassment claims to the EEOC over the course of the three-year consent decree will improve the work environment for all SunTrust employees and emphasize a commitment to preventing future discrimination,” EEOC Miami Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg says in the statement.