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EEOC v. KarenKim, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

August 23, 2012, Argued; October 19, 2012, Decided

Docket No. 11-3309-cv

Opinion

 [*94]  Per Curiam:

This case requires us to determine whether a district court abuses its discretion where, in the face of egregious acts of sexual harassment perpetuated by a single employee, it declines to order injunctive relief directed toward ensuring that that individual is no longer in a position to continue his harassing conduct. We conclude that it does.

BACKGROUND

After a two-week trial, pursuant to a Complaint brought by Plaintiff-Appellant the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), a jury returned a verdict finding that Defendant-Appellee KarenKim, Inc. ("KarenKim"), a grocery store operating in Oswego, New York under the name Paul's Big M Grocery, had: (1) subjected a class of female employees to a sexually hostile work environment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"), and (2) sexually harassed  [**3] the Plaintiffs-Intervenors Andrea Bradford, Judith Goodrich, and Deborah Haskins, in violation of Title VII and New York State law. The jury awarded both compensatory and punitive damages to a class of ten individuals who it found had been victimized by KarenKim and its former employee, Allen Manwaring.

The following facts were adduced at trial, and are undisputed for purposes of the instant appeal. KarenKim is owned and managed by Karen Connors. In January 2001, KarenKim hired Allen Manwaring, who was then in his mid-30s, as Store Manager. Within months, he and Connors became "romantically involved." App. 1851. They have been engaged since 2006 and have a young son together. Manwaring is now in his mid-forties.

At trial, a number of current and former KarenKim employees testified that Manwaring repeatedly subjected them to both verbal and physical sexual harassment. The verbal harassment consisted mainly of  [*95]  sexual comments, questions, and innuendos. Emily Anderson, for example, testified that soon after she began working at KarenKim, when she was 16 years old, Manwaring began commenting on her appearance in sexually explicit terms. She also stated that Manwaring had insinuated that  [**4] he would like to engage in a sexual relationship with Anderson and her mother. Similarly, Anna Miller, also age 16 when she started at KarenKim, testified that Manwaring would make comments of a sexual nature to her on a daily basis and compliment parts of her body. He also told her that if he were her boyfriend, he would never "let [her] out of his sheets" and commented that, "if he was 10 years younger, he would be on top of [her]." Id. at 1013-14, 1026. In another example, Andrea Bradford testified that Manwaring had discussed his sexual frustrations with her, and then commented that one day he would "pick [her] up" and engage in sexual relations with her. Id. at 885.

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698 F.3d 92 *; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 21908 **; 116 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 385; 96 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P44,646; 2012 WL 5072602

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff-Appellant, —v.— KARENKIM, INC., d/b/a Paul's Big M, d/b/a Paul's Big M Grocery, Defendant-Appellee.

Prior History:  [**1] Plaintiff-Appellant: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") appeals from a postjudgment order entered on June 17, 2011 by the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (Mordue, C.J.), which denied the EEOC's request for injunctive relief against Defendant-Appellee KarenKim, Inc. following a jury verdict finding KarenKim liable for sexual harassment and fostering a sexually hostile work environment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. and New York State law. We hold that, in the circumstances of this case, the district court abused its discretion in denying any injunctive relief to the EEOC. At minimum, the district court was obliged to craft injunctive relief sufficient to prevent further violations of Title VII by the individual who directly perpetrated the egregious sexual harassment at issue in this case. Accordingly, the post-judgment order of the district court is VACATED and the case is REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

EEOC v. KarenKim, Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64487 (N.D.N.Y, June 16, 2011)

CORE TERMS

injunctive relief, employees, sexual, harassment, sexual harassment, district court, defendant-employer, injunction, violations, comments, employment practice, complaints, recurrent, fired, hostile work environment, equitable relief, instances, shoulders, engaging, romantic, lawsuit, touched, abused, female

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Remedies, Injunctions, General Overview, Labor & Employment Law, Title VII Discrimination, Injunctions