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U.S. Accuses Firm's Bosses of Harassing Women Employees

Workplace: Touching, propositions were common at Cheap Tickets' L.A. office, lawsuit alleges.

September 13, 2002|DAVID ROSENZWEIG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Male supervisors at the Los Angeles office of Cheap Tickets, a popular travel service, subjected female employees to egregious and persistent sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a federal lawsuit Thursday.

The alleged harassment included propositions for sexual favors, unwelcome touching and sexually charged remarks. The class-action lawsuit also accuses male supervisors of firing a woman who first complained to the EEOC. About a half-dozen other female workers later joined in the complaint.

"Employers should understand that they will be held strictly accountable by the EEOC for allowing male supervisors to use their positions of power with impunity to sexually harass women," Olophius Perry, head of the agency's Los Angeles office, said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Cheap Tickets, which is part of Cendant Corp.'s travel distribution division, said the company had not seen the lawsuit and had no immediate comment.

"Cheap Tickets is committed to providing a positive work environment, and we do not tolerate any forms of sexual harassment," said Dawn Lyon, the company's representative.

Lyon said Cheap Tickets closed its Los Angeles office last year as part of a companywide consolidation.

The suit seeks a permanent injunction barring Cheap Tickets from engaging in sexual discrimination or retaliation against employees who complain about workplace abuses. It also demands that Cheap Tickets adopt strict policies to eradicate what the commission described as a sexually hostile work environment. And the suit calls for up to $300,000 compensation to each victim.

The EEOC said it filed the lawsuit after exhausting efforts to reach an out-of-court settlement with the company.

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