Costco federally charged in sexual discrimination lawsuit

RICHMOND, CA - MARCH 06:  A sign is posted on the outside of a Costco store on March 6, 2014 in Richmond, California.  Costco Wholesale reported a 15 percent drop in secnd quarter earnings with profits of $463 million, or $1.05 per share, compared to $547 million, or $1.24 per share, one year ago.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 477394825
RICHMOND, CA - MARCH 06: A sign is posted on the outside of a Costco store on March 6, 2014 in Richmond, California. Costco Wholesale reported a 15 percent drop in secnd quarter earnings with profits of $463 million, or $1.05 per share, compared to $547 million, or $1.24 per share, one year ago. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 477394825

GLENVIEW — A federal lawsuit filed Monday in Chicago charged Costco with creating a sexually hostile workplace against an employee.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stated the warehouse retailer failed to protect a female worker from “unwelcome advances” from a customer at its Glenview location.

The EEOC said the alleged incident violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

John Rowe, EEOC’s district director in Chicago, said the agency’s investigation found the employee had repeatedly complained to managers at the Glenview store, 2900 Patriot Boulevard.

She was “pursued, approached, and confronted in the Costco by the man,” stated an EEOC release, adding she obtained an order of protection against the customer.

“One of her managers apparently told the young woman that he agreed the man was ‘not right’ and that Costco would monitor the situation,” Rowe said.

“But what actually happened was that when the situation persisted and the employee complained to the police, Costco management allegedly yelled at her and told her to be friendly to the customer.”

John Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago said all employers have a responsibility to protect employees from sexual harassment.

“No employer gets a pass because it is a customer targeting its employee, rather than a manager or fellow employee,” he said.

Costco officials were unavailable for comment.

Costco is an international membership warehouse retailer which, according to its website, has more than 650 locations worldwide, annual revenues over $100 billion and over 125,000 emp­loyees in the United States.

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