Kmart Settles Sexual Assault Suit

Kmart Settles Sexual Assault Suit

Kmart has settled a sexual assault case with a 16-year-old former part time employee who claimed her supervisor sexually assaulted her. Kmart will pay $295,000 to the unnamed victim who worked at the Norristown, Pennsylvania store. Kmart also agreed to provide training to supervisors as part of the settlement.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the suit on Sep. 22 2005 in a Philadelphia U.S. District Court, which claimed that Kmart neglected to investigate an assault on a female 16-year-old part-time employee.

The suit said this failure to take action resulted in a second assault on another teenage female employee less than two months later.

The supervisor, Alan Payne, asked the first victim to go to the stockroom with him to get candy to restock shelves on Oct. 23, 2003. The 20-year-old supervisor then sexually assaulted her against her will, the lawsuit alleges.

The girl, who was unidentified in the lawsuit, never returned to work. Her mother complained to store management, but no one investigated the matter, the lawsuit said.

Payne continued to work at the store, and the police arrested him there two weeks later.

Payne was arrested again on Nov. 26, 2003, when he allegedly sexually assaulted another teenage employee in the store.

There were no charges pressed in the second incident, but Payne pled guilty to simple assault against the first teenager on May 6, 2004. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s office said he was put on supervised probation.

“Kmart had a policy,” said EEOC lawyer Jacqueline McNair. “They claimed they had training. Essentially, what happened is evidence that neither worked.”

McNair said teenagers were especially vulnerable to workplace sexual harassment because “teenagers are young and most teenagers have been taught that they are supposed to bow to authority. They don’t have the experience to know they should walk away and report this sort of thing.”

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