Lowe’s came under scrutiny this week over a lawsuit filed with the Solano County Superior Court in California. The lawsuit shows a troubling pattern of male-on-male sexual harassment, alleging numerous causes of action against the retail giant.
Both the Lowe’s Home Center and 1751 E. Monte Vista Ave. store are involved in the lawsuit, with the claimant’s attorney stating egregious harassment that would have been, “difficult to imagine being ignored had the victim been female. Here are the details so far.
Harassment is often thought of in the context of male aggressors and female victims, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Any man can harass another man just as one woman could do to another. Unfortunately, complaints like these made by male employees are rarely taken seriously.
The case has been picked up by a San Francisco sexual harassment attorney, first filed by Kelly Armstrong on behalf of the victim who has chosen to withhold their identity due to the nature of the case. The attorney has been very outspoken about the reality of male-on-male harassment often being swept under the rug.
The Reporter obtained a copy of the 17-page complaint filed Tuesday, which the court has acknowledged. It alleges a hostile work environment, failure to prevent harassment, and even retaliation against the employee, all of which violate California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.
The document also alleges wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. Armstrong has spoken about how Lowe’s management repeatedly ignored numerous complaints with excessive detail about a growing culture of sexual harassment within their Vacaville store.
The complaint explains that employees spread rumors about John Doe having sexual relationships with other employees, that he gave some STDs, was having group sex, and even that he slept with another female employee.
It also talks about an employee named Mark Fox, an assistant store manager. Fox, according to the complaint and written testimony from Armstrong, repeatedly made inappropriate comments to Doe ranging from describing his genitals to photographing Doe in the restroom while at work and sharing them with other employees.
A Lack of Action
Doe reported each and every instance to Vacaville store management as well as corporate management, but Lowe’s failed to act on those complaints according to the court filings. When addressing Vacaville manager Dave Berlin, Doe was told to drop the issue and threatened with termination.
Doe took the complaint to Lowe’s Associate Care Center, but was then threatened by Fox with physical violence. Armstrong alleges that this was overheard by a department manager but that nothing was done. Doe then requested to be transferred and took a leave, but was denied the request.
What’s to ComeThe court has acknowledged the complaint, which means testimony is the next step. The court will then have to decide if the case moves to trial. In the meantime, Armstrong is urging anyone from the Vacaville location to come forward as a witness. She’s also encouraging any Lowe’s employee to speak up about harassment when they see it.