Illinois Gas Station / Convenience Store Subjected a Female Employee to
Unwanted Sexual Advances, Federal Agency Charges

CHICAGO – Kelley Williamson Company, which owns and operates gas stations and con­venience stores, violated federal law when it subjected a female employee at its Byron, Illinois gas station and convenience store to sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Com­mission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today. The federal agency said that the company failed to stop harassment by a male customer. The federal agency further alleged that the company did not keep the employee’s medical information confidential.

The EEOC’s pre-suit investigation revealed that a male customer repeatedly subjected a female employee to unwanted sexual advances and other offensive conduct. The harassment was reported to Kelley Williamson officials repeatedly, both by the alleged victim and others, but the company failed to take prompt remedial action to stop the harassment.

The EEOC’s pre-suit investigation also found that the company did not keep the employee’s medical information confidential. The store manager unlawfully shared the employee’s private medical infor­mation with other employees who had no legitimate need to know it, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment in employment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires that employers keep medical information it collects from its employees confidential. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Kelley Williamson Co., Civil Action No. 22-cv-50033) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorneys Greger Calhan and Miles Shultz and Supervisory Trial Attorney Justin Mulaire.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Philip G. Reinhard. The EEOC is seeking relief for the female employee, including compensatory and punitive damages, as well as other measures to prevent sexual harassment of employees and to keep medical information confidential in the future.

“Kelley Williamson was on notice that a customer was harassing one of its employees and failed to take any action to protect the employee for months – and that failure violates federal law,” said Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office.

Chicago District Director Julianne Bowman added, “This case serves as a reminder that employers are required to make reasonable efforts to stop all sexual harassment of their employees on the job — including harassment by customers and members of the public. Employers who know their employees are being harassed and don’t even try to stop it can be held liable for that harassment under the law.”

For more information on sexual harassment, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/sexual-harassment.

According to company information, Rockford, Illinois-based Kelley Williamson operates 50 gas stations and con­venience stores in Illinois and Wisconsin.

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.