About the Firm

Attorney Brian H. Alligood provides top quality, aggressive legal representation to individuals and businesses throughout North Carolina. Mr. Alligood regularly represents parties in disputes arising from all aspects of the employer-employee relationship. Employment issues frequently litigated include claims of discriminatory hiring and employment practices, sexual harassment, retaliation and wrongful discharge, wage and hour violations, breach of contract and no-compete covenants, and employee benefits litigation. In addition to confronting claims of traditional employment discrimination, Mr. Alligood represents parties with respect to statutory rights and obligations imposed by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act.

Mr. Alligood regularly appears in all North Carolina state and federal courts and administrative agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the North Carolina Department of Labor, and the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

Saturday, December 20, 2014

U.S. Justice Department Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Scotland County Agency and Employees

Earlier this month the United Sates Justice Department filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Southeastern Community and Family Services, Inc., which is a public housing agency that administers the federal Section 8 voucher program in Scotland County.  The complaint, copied here, also names as defendants John Wesley, the Section 8 housing coordinator, and Eric Pender, a housing inspector. 

Generally, the complaint alleges that Wesley and Pender subjected voucher program participants and applicants to unwanted sexual comments, sexual touching and other sexual acts, and even conditioned or offered Section 8 benefits in exchange for sexual acts.  The complaint also alleges that the men punished women who rebuffed their sexual advances by taking adverse housing actions against them.  The claims are pursued under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act.

According to the complaint, Wesley's harassment dates back to the year 2000 and includes such acts as making unwelcome comments and sexual advances to applicants, touching applicants and himself (in their presence) in a sexual manner, and even exposing his genitals in the presence of Section 8 applicants and participants.  He is also alleged to have used the women's responses to his sexual advances as a basis for advancing or hindering applications for benefits.  Similar misconduct is alleged against Pender.  In these ways the complaint alleges sexual harassment of both the hostile work environment and quid pro quo varieties, albeit outside of the employer-employee relationship.

The action is notable in several respects.  First, it serves as a reminder of the kinds of comments and actions that frequently lead to sexual harassment litigation.  In addition, it confirms that sexual harassment presents a liability risk for employers not only as to employee victims, but also as to third-parties who are affected by the misconduct. The case also serves as a reminder that governmental entities are not immune from liability for sexual harassment.  Finally, we see that sexual harassment is prohibited not only by Title VII but by other federal laws prohibiting discrimination and that federal agencies other than the EEOC enforce the prohibition against sexual harassment.