Worthington store settles case over camera zooming to female worker's chest

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 3, 2014 - 9:54 PM

An office supply store must pay a former female employee $11,000 in the security system complaint.

An office supply store in southwestern Minnesota must pay a former employee $11,000 after federal investigators found that a manager repeatedly zoomed a security camera in on her chest for him to view from his desktop computer.

The owner of Davis Typewriter Co. in Worthington explained to the woman at the time that she was “a very beautiful girl and that men will always look at beautiful women,” the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in court documents.

Davis Typewriter now finds itself the object of a “sweeping federal court injunction” in order to settle the lawsuit brought on behalf of 26-year-old Tracey Kelley, the EEOC announced Wednesday.

The lawsuit contended that in July 2010, company operations manager Stanley Alm “used the company’s security camera system to stream footage of [Kelley’s] breasts and body onto his office computer,” the EEOC announcement continued.

The decree, while bringing no admission of guilt from Davis Typewriter, requires the company to pay Kelley $11,000 in damages and institute new policies and educational and training procedures concerning sexual harassment.

One of the attorneys representing Davis Typewriter, Jennifer Lurken, said Thursday that while signing off on the decree, “my clients aren’t admitting any guilt of liability. Based on a business decision, they decided to settle the case.”

Lurken did say that Alm was disciplined by Davis “based on the allegations,” but that he remained employed there until his death from a heart attack in October. “He worked there for more than 30 years without any other complaints,” the attorney said.

‘Programming problems’

Kelley told investigators that after she found out about how the camera was being used to follow her around the office and zoom in on her body, she spoke with management to no avail.

She left work that day, saying she couldn’t bring herself to return to the job she started just a few months earlier answering the phone and carrying out other duties.

“We will be watching Davis Typewriter closely for the next two years to ensure that its promises to take this issue seriously are fulfilled,” said John Hendrickson, an EEOC regional attorney in Chicago.

In a court filing, Davis Typewriter explained that its security camera was having “programming problems.” The filing said that Alm believed the camera had “malfunctioned and stayed in the position” pointing at Kelley.

In an EEOC filing, company owner Larry Davis called Kelley into his office and said he had been guilty “of the same thing” that Alm was accused of doing.

It was then, the document continued, that Davis told her that this is what happens to beautiful women.

One co-worker had warned Kelley to “make sure her clothing covers up her chest,” the EEOC document continued, and an IT worker for Davis Typewriter gave Kelley a DVD of the camera following her and at times zooming in so her “chest is the only visible object on the screen.”

 

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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