Bailey, Banks & Biddle settles sexual harassment suit

Bailey, Banks & Biddle has settled a federal lawsuit over alleged sexual harassment of female employees at stores in Westchester and Long Island, New York, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Tuesday.

Under terms of a consent decree, reported by the Long Island New York newspaper, Newsday, the jewelry chain agreed to pay a total of $250,000 to six women who filed sexual harassment complaints.

The settlement also requires the company to re-issue its policy prohibiting sexual harassment to employees, train employees in equal employment law and provide periodic reports to the EEOC concerning any new sexual harassment complaints, the newspaper reports.

“The consent decree provides a framework for facilitating a work environment in which all workers have the freedom to compete including women,” Spencer Lewis, the New York District director for the EEOC, reportedly said. He added that his agency is “confident this company is capable of preventing the kind of sexual harassment which led to this lawsuit.”

Bailey, Banks & Biddle is an upscale subsidiary of Irving, Texas-based Zale Corp.

In March 2001, the women sued the retailer, claiming a manager, Kevin Mantell, had acted inappropriately, the The New York Times reports. He worked in a Long Island store, was transferred to a Westchester location, and then was dismissed for reasons unrelated to the suit.

The suit claimed the harassment included comments of a sexual nature; inappropriate, nonconsensual touching; and physical and verbally intimidating conduct, Newsday reports.

“While we are pleased that this matter has been resolved, Bailey, Banks and Biddle denies any wrongdoing in the matter; the allegations which gave rise to this litigation were against a single store manager,” David Rhodes, senior vice president of store operations for the company, reportedly said in a statement.

Rhodes reportedly added the firm “has a long-standing policy in place designed to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace