Tampa, FL- SunTrust has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a sexual harassment complaint filed by three female employees of a Sarasota branch who accused a branch manager of repeatedly subjecting them to a hostile work environment.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that branch manager subject the women to a variety of inappropriate behavior which included telling one woman to wear a bathing suit to work and regularly caressing and grabbing another female employee. In one incident, the branch manager used his body to trap a 20 year-old female teller behind the counter. The EEOC complaint also stated he frequently stared at women’s breasts.

The women complained to the assistant branch manager and other management but their complaints were ignored and the harassment was not addressed.

In the course of their investigation, the EEOC discovered that the branch manager resigned by the bank eventually gave his job back.

As part of the settlement agreement, SunTrust,  an Atlanta-based bank with over a thousand branches, has agreed to conduct annual sexual harassment training.

A sexual harassment training program should be standard for any business or large company with more than 15 employees. Training helps ensure all employees understand what behaviors can be considered harassment and anyone subject to this misconduct is aware how deal with it and report incidents when they occur. Failing to train employees or have a clear and concise reporting system can cause a business or company to incur a great deal of liability if any of their employees face harassment or discrimination.

Even worse than not having a sexual harassment training program is not addressing complaints when they arise. A company may not think the complaints are valid or the victims are being too sensitive. They may think that sexual harassment is not a big deal. Not only does allowing sexual harassment to persist affect the well-being of the victim or victims but it affects the workplace as a whole. This inappropriate behavior impacts work performance and absences forcing other workers to take on more responsibilities. It also erodes the overall moral of a workplace and leads to high turnover.

The harasser may be president, upper management or an otherwise valued employ the company doesn’t want to lose. Ignoring sexual harassment complaints is the biggest mistake many companies make and it can be extremely costly in the long run especially when the victim or victims hire a sexual harassment attorney.

This settlement shows how costly it can be for an employer to ignore or disregard an employee’s sexual harassment complaint. The EEOC caps the settlement amounts complainants receive so this $300, 000 settlement is significantly lower than what a harassment victim would have received had they retained a private attorney.

No employee should have to suffer because their employer refuses to take action and they don’t have to. When a harassment victims retains a Florida sexual harassment attorney, they can stop their abuse and get the compensation they deserve.