A jury awarded $1,260,080 to 13 women who had accused Paul’s Big M grocery store of sexual harassment. The store’s general manager, Allen Manwaring, his boss and fiancee, Karen Connors, and Connors’ company, KarenKim Inc. were named as defendants in the EEOC lawsuit. Karen Connors is the owner of Paul’s Big M.
The EEOC claimed that Manwaring subjected a number of female employees, many of whom were teenagers still in high school at the time, to a sexually hostile work environment. The women alleged that Connors did nothing to stop Manwaring’s harassment, and two of the women were fired after they complained about the hostile work enivronment.
According to the EEOC, Manwaring suggested a sexual threesome with one teenage cashier’s mother, stuck his tongue in another teenage cashier’s mouth and grabbed and touched the breasts and buttocks of other women.
During the trial, many of the former employees testified that Manwaring sexually propositioned them, that he described his sex life with Connors, that he made lewd gestures to employees, and that he subjected them to unwanted touching or grabbing of a sexual nature.
After being charged in 2007 with four counts of criminal harassment and one misdemeanor count of forcible touching, Manwaring testified that he pled guilty to one of the criminal counts of harassment for putting his tongue in the mouth of a 17-year-old female cashier.
Ami Sanghvi, a EEOC trial attorney who handled the case, said, “The harassment at the store was especially egregious because many of the employees were teenage girls who were harassed by the General Manager, who was engaged to the owner, and felt they had no where to turn for help. This lawsuit demonstrates that the EEOC is committed to protecting teen workers through strong enforcement when employers fail to prevent and correct discrimination.”