Glenview, Warehouse retail giant Costco gets good publicity for treating their employees fairly and paying good wages, but it isn’t all rosy for all of their employees. Or, at least it is rosy for a female employee at a Glenview, Illinois, Costco.

According to the complaint file in August, the retailer failed to protect an employee from sexual harassment by ordering the women to “friendly” to a member-customer who repeatedly stalked, confronted and pursued her through the store. When she reported the stalker to one of the store’s managers, he agreed that something “not right” about the stalker and promised to look into the matter, an EEOC press release stated.

The manager however failed to take any action and the stalking continued. The EEOC investigation concluded that the employee regularly complained to management at the Glenview Costco store, but instead of asking the customer to correct his behavior, management told the woman to be “friendly” to the stalker. Because of management’s inaction the employee was forced to get a restraining order against the stalker.

John Rowe, the EEOC district director in Chicago, said in the press release, “The employee’s efforts weren’t enough for Costco. One of her managers apparently told the young woman that he agreed the man was ‘not right’ and that Costco would monitor the situation.” But Rowe said the company didn’t investigate, and “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.”

The lawsuit was initiated by the EEOC after they attempted to settle the case through pre-litigation negotiations. The agency stated this Costco store violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 refusing to put an end to the stalking and protecting their employee from harassment.

This is yet another case where a retailer is more concerned about the customer than a victim of sexual harassment. Customers subject employees to all kinds of inappropriate behaviors, such as groping, lewd comments and, as in this case, stalking.Cases likes these are not unusual, and regardless of whether the harasser is another employee, or a customer, a business must ensure they stop harassment as soon as they receive a complaint, whether or not they believe the complaints to be true.

Rowe said, “All employers have a duty to protect employees from sexual harassment whatever form that harassment may take – whether it’s lewd remarks, groping, propositioning or stalking.”

The belief that the customer is king, is a great policy, but it cannot allow a business to ignore the safety and well-being of their employees. By not taking any corrective actions, the management of this particular Costco made themselves vulnerable to costly lawsuits.

Employees facing repeated and unaddressed sexual harassment should get legal advice immediately. By contacting a sexual harassment attorney, the harassed employee will be informed of what steps they need to take to stop the harassment. And they can decide whether they want to pursue their employer for compensation.