Ignoring the Problem: Is AutoZone Indifferent to Workplace Sexual Harassment?

In December 2013, a victim of sexual harassment–a man–filed a charge with the EEOC, alleging that working in Autozone’s Whiteville, North Carolina store, a female coworker:

created a hostile work environment based on Complainant’s gender . . . by . . . pinching Complainant’s buttocks, twisting his nipples, and rubbing his crotch, and making statements like, “I’m sorry, I’m just used to doing that to my boys.”

In about late March 2013, the victim began complaining to his supervisor, AutoZone’s Manager of Commercial Sales, as well as AutoZone’s Assistant Manager. After the victim discovered they did not take his complaints seriously, he made recordings documenting management’s failure to act:

It is indisputable that Autozone had actual notice of the sexual harassment because the Assistant Manager acknowledged that he himself was also a victim:
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After getting no help from his direct supervisor, or the Assistant Manager, in July, the victim began complaining, repeatedly, to AutoZone’s General Manager. The harassment continued and worsened. On August 19, 2013, the victim interviewed the General Manager:
After a three week vacation, the victim returned to the store, and was immediately sexually molested, again. He complained for the umpteenth time, to both his Commercial Sales Manager, and now a new Store Manager–the fourth manager to date. The victim felt he was starting from scratch. Management was as clueless about its obligations as ever:
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The Sales Manager suggested separating the two, by putting the harasser at the front counter:
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The Court of Appeals has held that employers who do not timely respond to complaints of coworker sexual harassment do so at their own risk, and that belated action, such as ending contact between the victim and the harasser, will not shield the employer from liability:
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Autozone’s Sexual Harassment policy (which the victim did not receive until his last day), does not provide specific instructions for victims of harassment, but requires “Autozoners who receive a complaint, or become aware of any harassment, . . . to report it immediately to management, Human Resources or Autozone Relations at 800-510-1033.” None of the supervisors or managers who received his complaints, or were aware of the harassment, followed the policy. However, the victim, who had not seen the policy, followed it to a T. Indeed, the General Manager admitted that AutoZone had not trained management on how to address workplace sexual harassment:

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In November 2014, after investigation, including review of the recordings, the EEOC found reasonable cause that AutoZone violated the law:

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