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Grocery store settles discrimination case with EEOC

JACKSON — A Jackson grocery store has agreed to pay $325,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the government.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said today in a news release that it reached the deal with Venture Inc., which runs a Save-A-Lot grocery store on Ellis Avenue in west Jackson.

In a statement today, Venture Inc. said it has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment.

“Venture strongly denies the allegations of harassment in the case but the EEOC made a settlement proposal that made it more favorable to resolve this and move on rather than engage in very expensive litigation to prove our innocence,” the company said.

EEOC says more than 20 women were victims of the sexually hostile workplace in which a manager repeatedly propositioned female employees for sex, even offering money and benefits in exchange for sex.

The deal also includes a 30-month consent decree that requires the company to take measures to prevent harassment in the future.

“There is no excuse for the sort of misconduct that was charged here — unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and degrading language — especially when directed at so many employees,” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC’s Birmingham, Ala., office. “It interferes with an individual’s work performance and creates an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment.”

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