Koelsch Senior Communities and The Hampton at Salmon Creek last month agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that a former Hampton employee had been repeatedly sexually harassed by her female direct supervisor.
The harassment was described as ongoing since at least June 2015, and it included inappropriate touching and sexually suggestive comments, according to the lawsuit. Management allegedly failed to properly investigate her complaints and threatened her job.
The lawsuit was brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September 2018 on behalf of the former employee of The Hampton, a memory-care facility at 2305 N.E. 129th St. in Salmon Creek. It is operated by Koelsch, which manages approximately 40 senior facilities across multiple states.
According to the lawsuit, the employee filed two harassment complaints before January 2016 that were allegedly ignored. It prompted her to quit later that month.
The former employee later filed a discrimination complaint with the commission, alleging that Koelsch and Hampton had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The commission investigated and notified Koelsch and Hampton in May 2018 that there was reasonable cause to believe that the employee had been sexually harassed. The agency attempted to bring the parties together for a conciliation process, but the parties were unable to reach an agreement, according to the lawsuit.
The case was set to go to trial in May in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, but the parties reached a proposed settlement in late February. The court approved a consent decree outlining the settlement terms on Wednesday.
The three-year consent decree orders the defendants to pay the former employee $450,000. It also gives Koelsch and Hampton 60 days to develop and implement new policies to prevent harassment and retaliation, provide supervisor accountability and create new complaint and investigation procedures. All are subject to review by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The companies must distribute the policies to all current and new employees for the duration of the decree. The decree also mandates that the companies hold equal opportunity employment training for all Hampton Employees annually.