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Fry’s Electronics will pay $2.3 million to settle EEOC suit

Agency cracks down on company for “sexting” and retaliation

Most people would never think of “sexting” their subordinates—but one employee at Fry’s Electronics didn’t seem to think it was inappropriate.

America Rios, a 20-year-old sales associate at one of the national retailer’s Washington stores, told her direct supervisor, Ka Lam, that a male assistant store manager was frequently sending her sexual text messages and inviting her to his house to drink alcohol. Lam reported the harassment to the corporate legal department and was subsequently fired.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against Fry’s, claiming the retailer illegally retaliated against Lam and was responsible for Rios’ sexual harassment. The agency announced yesterday that Fry’s agreed to pay $2.3 million and to implement preventive measures to settle the lawsuit.

“This seven-figure settlement, among the highest EEOC settlements ever on a per-claimant basis, follows court-ordered sanctions including a penalty of $100,000 due to Fry’s abusive discovery tactics which included destroying relevant evidence, wrongfully withholding evidence, and filing frivolous motions,” EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez said in an EEOC press release. “The case should send a clear message that sexual harassment of vulnerable employees remains a serious problem in this country, as is employer retaliation against those who report harassment.”

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