"In light of the historic record of the entertainment industry as a whole and because we found this to be an egregious case, we decided to remedy the problem and prevent it in the future."
——EEOC lawyer Anna Park

VIRGIN FACES SEXUAL
HARASSMENT SUIT

EEOC Charges Label With "Creating a Sexually Hostile Work Environment"
First of all, we’d like to say that Nancy Berry had nothing to with it.

From the "when it rains, it pours" department, the Los Angeles Times reports that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has charged Virgin Records with "creating a sexually hostile work environment."

As recent events have shown, the record industry is no stranger to sexual harassment charges, but this charge by the EEOC marks a rare bid by the federal government to examine the work environments in the record industry.

"In light of the historic record of the entertainment industry as a whole and because we found this to be an egregious case, we decided to remedy the problem and prevent it in the future," Anna Park told the Times. Park, who filed the lawsuit, is a regional attorney for the EEOC. "Employers must realize that the day is long gone when a manager can use his authority over an employee to extort sexual favors."

According to the complaint, filed Sept. 28 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Stephanie Velasquez, an employee in the label's computer department, was subjected to sexual propositions, unwelcome touching and derogatory comments by her boss Walter Lawson.

The government suit alleges that when Velasquez refused his advances, Lawson became hypercritical of her work, cut off her access to information and tools needed for her job and laid the groundwork for her discharge. When Velasquez complained to the label's human resources department, Lawson told her, within hours, that she had been fired.

According to Virgin, Lawson no longer works for the label, having been terminated months ago for reasons unrelated to the complaint.

While Virgin has not responded to the complaint in court, a spokesman told the Times, "We take allegations of this nature very seriously. The complaint came to us over one year ago, at which time we conducted an immediate and thorough investigation. As there is now pending litigation involved, consistent with our company policy, we are not able to comment on this further."

According to the Times, the lawsuit, which charges the company with sexual harassment and retaliation, seeks Velasquez's back pay, unspecified monetary damages and a court order requiring the label to institute companywide training on anti-discrimination laws.

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