The owner of an Arkansas nursing home has agreed to pay $100,000 to former employees whose sexual harassment and wrongful termination allegations were taken up by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In a lawsuit filed last year, the commission argued that Happy Valley Health and Rehabilitation in Malvern violated federal law when it failed to address female workers’ complaints and then fired them.
Officials announced the settlement involving the facility’s owner, Happy Valley LLC, which resolves the case that had been pending in the Hot Spring Division of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.
The EEOC had said it received reports of harassments as early as May 2016 and as recently as May of this year, according to reports in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The business denied any wrongdoing in court. Administrator Jacqueline Kilgore was out of the office Wednesday afternoon, and an assistant administrator declined to comment to McKnight’s.
But court documents and press releases cited by the Democrat-Gazette 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.”
The consent decree issued this month by Senior U.S. District Judge Robert T. Dawson requires Happy Valley to pay a combined $100,000 settlement to several former employees, provide sexual harassment and retaliation training for its employees, and create a sexual harassment complaint policy.