Guard Fired For Reporting Surveillance Sexual Harassment

Author: Carlton Purvis, Published on Jan 10, 2014

A guard is fired after reporting misconduct by another guard monitoring surveillance cameras. Now the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing on his behalf. Here is the full complaint.

Christopher Smith worked as a security guard for Guardsmark watching over a General Dynamics facility in Warren, Michigan, but was fired after he told a woman she was being sexually harassed via security camera.

“On a number of occasions, Smith observed a coworker using the security cameras to zoom in on women’s private parts,” according to the lawsuit. He complained to the coworker, but the coworker wouldn’t stop. Smith told one of the women what was going on, and she filed a sexual harassment complaint. Guardsmark fired him two days later.

Smith filed a complaint with the EEOC saying he was terminated because he opposed sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace. The EEOC says this is a case of retaliation and that Smith was deprived of equal employment opportunities and filed the suit on Christmas Eve.

"Title VII protects employees from being retaliated against for opposing sexual harassment even if they complain to someone else, like a co-worker or client," said Nedra Campbell, trial attorney for the EEOC in a prepared statement. "Employees like Smith who oppose the illegal acts of a co-worker should be commended, not fired."

The agency is suing for past and future wages for Smith and punitive damages and asking for an injunction barring Guardsmark from “perpetuating a sexually hostile work environment, and retaliating against any individual who opposes sex discrimination and/or a sexually hostile work environment.”

It is not clear whether the guard who was controlling the surveillance system was disciplined or the disposition of the female employee's sexual harassment complaint. A security officer at the site said Smith was terminated before he started there, but he was not aware of any other firings since then.

Emails and calls to Guardsmark about the suit went unreturned.

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Comments (9)

"plus the predominance of male surveillance operators, often young and immature"

I do have to say that comes across as a that's a pretty condeming blanket statement.

Also, it was right for Smith to try and put a stop to the behavior and discussing it with the offending co-worker. But one thing you can say he might have done wrong is circumventing management and going straight to the woman without giving management a chance to address the issue. He (according to the informaiton given, which doesn't say he did) did not give Guardsmark an oppurtunity to investigate the situation themselves. As it stands, now if someone asks Guardsmark if they did anything about this or if they discpline such actions when they arise, they can't say that they did or do, because they weren't given the chance.

If Smith reported the issue to his superiors, and nothing was done, that would be one thing. But my question is who in his immediate supervisory chain did he notify?

He (according to the informaiton given, which doesn't say he did) did not give Guardsmark an oppurtunity to investigate the situation themselves. As it stands, now if someone asks Guardsmark if they did anything about this or if they discpline such actions when they arise, they can't say that they did or do, because they weren't given the chance.

If Smith reported the issue to his superiors, and nothing was done, that would be one thing. But my question is who in his immediate supervisory chain did he notify?

Good questions and those are some that contacted Guardsmark about, but they haven't responded yet. However, keep in mind, existing regulations protect an employee from retaliation no matter who they report the issue to. They don't say the offense has to be reported to a supervisor or taken it up a formal chain of command (although that may have helped).

"plus the predominance of male surveillance operators, often young and immature"

I do have to say that comes across as a that's a pretty condeming blanket statement.

I added that line in. It is a fact that a predominance of surveillance operators are male. It is my experienced opinion that often they are young and immature.

This, to me, increases the risk. Many guards forget / do not make the distinction between seeing someone in their personal life and what they do when they are on duty.

Of the operators we've interviewed so far:

Retail Operator, Nuclear Facility Operator, the operator for this post, all under 30.

Courthouse operator, Citiwatch operators, most over 50 but the Citiwatch operators were mostly retired cops.

Can anyone share how they make sure ptz cameras deployed have their privacy masking in place before operators start using them. It seems for us it is left undone and it is usually operators that tell us that they can see into windows and request that the masking is programmed after the fact.

We suspect this is fairly common problem, though hard to detect given that rarely do others monitor what the surveillance operators are monitoring.

Although one would assume if a guard was suspected it would be easy enough to go thru the motion events, looking for Inappropriate Zooming. Perhaps there exists an analytic for just this type of behavior, maybe something like 'Way Over the Line Detection' or 'Private Parts Tracking'.

Also if it was deemed somehow that the IZ rose to a criminal level, this might be a fascinating case of where the guards own joystick actions and his recorded video were used against himself!

C

This appears to be an article form some other source, yet no credit is given to the original author. I want to be able to check the original information. Also the included link to the full complaint seems to be broken.

We never copy / run articles from other sources. This was written by us with original reporting and calls by Carlton to the parties involved.

Here's the corrected link to the EEOC complaint.

And hence the ancient Latin saying: quis custodiet, ipsos custodes? - Who guards the guards?

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