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Wells Fargo Bank N.A. has agreed to pay $290,000 to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit in which the bank was charged with creating a sexually hostile work environment at one of its branches, where four female employees were allegedly subject to same-sex harassment.
The 2013 EEOC lawsuit charged that a female manager and another female bank teller at a Wells Fargo branch in Reno, Nevada, regularly subjected the four women to graphic sexual comments, gestures and images.
The alleged harassment included inappropriate touching and a suggestion that the bank tellers wear sexually provocative clothing to attract customers and to advance in the workplace, according to the EEOC.
The EEOC said in its statement that although the offensive conduct was reported to management several times, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo failed to act quickly to stop it, and one employee felt compelled to quit rather than to endure the ongoing harassment.
Under terms of the settlement agreement, in addition to the $290,000 payment to be split among the four women, Wells Fargo agreed to take preventive steps in all branch locations within its Sierra Mountains District, including annual anti-discrimination training, among other measures.
“EEOC's investigation showed that Wells Fargo could have immediately nipped this behavior in the bud,” EEOC San Francisco regional attorney William R. Tamayo said in a statement. “We are hopeful that the settlement terms will ensure a quicker response going forward.”
A Wells Fargo spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
A now-closed Honolulu restaurant will pay $350,000 to settle charges that several male employees, including managers, sexually harassed or retaliated against 13 female employees over a five-year period.