Albuquerque, NM- Pitre Inc., an Albuquerque based car dealership, has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Pitre denied the allegations that they created a hostile work environment, but said they agreed to a consent decree to avoid the costs of a trial, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The lawsuit alleged that high-level employees at the dealership including the lot manager and the general manager, knowingly and willfully subjected close to 50 male employees to a host of inappropriate sexual behaviors over the period of a decade. Those behaviors included lewd comments, solicitations for oral sex, unwanted groping and touching and even biting among other offensive behaviors, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

At the center of the lawsuit, which was filed by the EEOC in 2011, is a lot attendant who subjected new hires at the dealership with a sort of “hazing” or initiation at the behest of upper management. According to the suit, newly hired men were forced to get into a locked vehicle, and go through the car wash with the lot attendant while he exposed his genitals and groped the new employee in a sexual manner.

The EEOC alleges that management encouraged the lot attendant to harass other employees and continued even after the dealership reprimanded the attendant. The attendant was eventually fired in 2010,the Albuquerque Journal reported.

The EEOC also alleges that employees who complained about the initiation and harassment were subjected to retaliation. The lawsuit was filed after the EEOC attempted to resolve the complaints through a conciliatory process.

The attorney representing Pitre, Sam Bregman said the EEOC’s lawsuit contains a number of “wild allegations… that simply aren’t true.” In the consent decree, the dealership agreed to pay the $2 million settlement to avoid legal costs, but disputed the allegations.

The EEOC said 50 men will be receiving a settlement amounts for back pay and other compensatory damages.

In addition to the settlement, Pitre must make changes to their sexual harassment policies and will be required to hire a monitor. They are also forbidden from hiring the five people named in the lawsuit.

Typically when we think of sexual harassment, we think of it as sexual behavior that affects women, but as this case demonstrates, men too are regularly subjected to this inappropriate behavior. According to EEOC statistics posted on their website, the agency received 11,364 complaints of sexual harassment.  Of those complaints 16.3 percent were filed by men and represents a growing share of overall sexual harassment complaints.

The number of complaints sexual harassment complaints filed by men has steadily increased since 1997, when 11.6 percent of the 15,889 complaints received were filed by men. When you compare statistics from 2011 to ones from 1997, you can that see overall complaints have been decreasing while those filed by men have steadily increased.

The increase harassment complaints by men would indicate one of two things, either they are more comfortable reporting the behavior, or the incidents are becoming more common. Whatever the reason, a sexual harassment attorney will make it possible for any person, regardless of their gender, to seek compensation.