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Funeral Home and Crematory Owner Sexually Harassed Four Female Employees and Punished Them for Reporting, Federal Agency Charged



Sachse, Texas-based Charles W. Smith & Sons Funeral Home and Metro Mortuary and Crematory will pay $135,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.


According to the EEOC’s suit, the defendants’ owner and funeral director subjected four female employees to a hostile work environment at both the company’s Sachse mortuary and the McKinney funeral home. He made numerous crude sexual comments and sexual propositions to the women and subjected them to un­wel­come physical touching. He also offered money for sexual acts, the EEOC said. Even after the sexual harassment was reported to other supervisors and managers, no responsive or remedial actions were taken. Instead, one of the female employees was removed from the work schedule following her report of sex harassment and the other three were forced to resign, the agency charged.


Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits dis­crimination based on sex, including sexual harassment, and retaliation for complaining about it. The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 4:21-cv-00731, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.


The three-year consent decree settling the suit was entered by U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant on October 19, 2022 and prohibits future discrimination and retaliation. In addition to the payment of damages to the female employees, the decree requires the mortuary and funeral home to provide annual training to all employees, including specified training for the owner on eliminating discrimination in the work­place and the rights and responsibilities of employees. The training will also discuss the appropriate steps to be taken in response to complaints about sexual harassment. The defendants will also have to hire a professional human resources monitor to whom employees can report sexual harassment and who will ensure compliance with the decree.


“Supervisors at both the funeral homes and the mortuary repeatedly said there was nothing they could do to respond to the demands for sexual favors and unwanted advances these women faced because they came from the owner,” said Alexa Lang, trial attorney in the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. “Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure a safe workplace and not punish women who come forward to report abuse.”


EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Suzanne Anderson added, “A funeral home’s business is founded upon trust. This owner violated the trust of his employees by creating a hostile work environ­ment. The EEOC stands ready to come to the defense of sexual harassment victims.”


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Lisa Smith, SPHR, SCP

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Lisa Smith, SPHR, SHRM – SCP

Certified EEO Investigator (EEOC)

Lead Support and Content Chief – HelpDeskforHR.com

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