Retired Teacher Files $12 Million Lawsuit


Los Angeles, CA: A retired teacher has filed a $12 million lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District, alleging her employer did not provide her with a working environment that was free from harassment. Cathy Figel, an openly gay teacher, alleges in her lawsuit that she was subject to an unsafe work environment, including anti-gay language, vandalism and physical violence.

CBS News (11/12/15) reports that Figel, who taught physical education for 13 years at Marina del Rey Middle School, retired because of the repeated harassment. Figel alleges the school district did not take her complaints seriously, repeatedly dismissed her reports of harassment and was told not to identify herself as gay. Figel also said she was transferred to a different school, which she feels was retaliatory, and was prevented from participating in her school’s marine science program. The school district said in a written statement to CBS that it disagrees with the allegations and is vigorously defending itself.

Meanwhile, a California call center has agreed to pay $600,000 to settle allegations of harassment and retaliation. VXI Global Solutions was accused by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of allowing a hostile work environment in which male and female employees were subjected to various sexual harassment including groping and touching, sexual propositioning, and comments of a sexual nature from their supervisors.

The EEOC further alleged that supervisors threatened staff and VXI Global Solutions retaliated against staff that reported the harassment. In addition to paying the $600,000, VXI Global Solutions will retain a consultant to revise policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment and retaliation; to create a system to track sexual harassment and retaliation complaints; and to provide training in dealing with harassment complaints.

“Sexual harassment continues to be a persistent problem in the workplace and a priority for EEOC,” said Rosa Viramontes, district director for EEOC’s Los Angeles District, in a written statement. “Workers should not have to endure a hostile work environment because of their sex which, if unchecked, is a violation of federal law.”

Sexual harassment and retaliation are violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The lawsuit, which was initially filed in September 2014, is EEOC v. VXI Global Solutions, Inc., Case No. 2:14-cv-07444.

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