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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit against Wells Fargo Bank N.A., charging it with creating a sexually hostile work environment at one of its branches in a situation where female employees were allegedly subject to same-sex harassment.
The EEOC said Wednesday that four female bank tellers employed at a Reno, Nev., branch of the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based bank regularly faced graphic sexual comments, gestures and images from a female service manager and another female bank teller. The agency said the harassment included invasive comments about their bodies and sex lives, as well as inappropriate touching and grabbing.
The EEOC said the service manager also suggested the female bank tellers wear sexually provocative clothing to attract or retain customers and to advance in the workplace.
The agency said although the offensive conduct was reported to management several times, the bank failed to take effective action and one employee felt compelled to quit “rather than endure the ongoing harassment.”
The bank was charged with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Commenting on the litigation, EEOC San Francisco regional attorney William R. Tamayo said, "Sexual harassment is illegal, regardless of whether the harasser is female or male, the same or opposite gender as the victim. Federal law requires employers to protect their workers from harassment and sexual abuse, especially at the hands of a manager."
The company said in a statement, “We are reviewing the complaint and cannot comment on the allegations, but we can confirm Wells Fargo has specific policies that prohibit harassment of any kind. A violation of any of these policies is grounds for corrective action, which may include termination of employment. We strive to build a safe and productive workplace culture in which all team members are accepted and respected.”