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Senior care company sued in federal lawsuit alleging sexual harassment of workers

OAKLAND — A federal lawsuit filed against a senior at-home care company alleges that the company allowed the sexual harassment of at least five of its female workers by an elderly man.

The civil rights lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is against San Leandro-based R. MacArthur Corporation, a franchise of the Home Instead Senior Care. The lawsuit alleges that an 80-year-old Alameda man sexually harassed and assaulted female caregivers between 2015 until his death in June 2016.

Rashon Sturdivant, one of the women who was a caregiver for him from March to May 2015, alleges that the elderly man made verbal attacks, including racist and sexist comments. He allegedly touched himself inappropriately while she was in the room and/or giving him a bath, made lewd comments about her body, and asked for sexual favors, the lawsuit alleges.

The man, who was white, also allegedly referred to her as “brown sugar,” the “pretty dark one,” and told her about his previous sexual relations with black women, according to the lawsuit.

The verbal comments, however, allegedly escalated to unwanted touching of her body parts.

Another four women brought forth similar offenses, including unwanted comments and groping. They also worked for the same man from January 2014 to near his death in June 2016.

When Sturdivant reported the harassment to her superiors, the company is alleged to have retaliated against her.

Raymond Cheung, senior trial attorney with the EEOC, said Sturdivant couldn’t take the harassment anymore and was told to apply for a job elsewhere. The company also stopped referring her to other clients, he said. She had worked for seven or eight other clients before being assigned to this man.

Similarly, the lawsuit alleges the other women also reported the harassment and the company did nothing.

Cheung said that in-home care for seniors is one of the fastest growing markets today as the baby boomer generation grows older and doesn’t want to live in rest or nursing homes. These caregivers, who are not medical workers, are typically also paid minimum wage, and “are on the front lines,” he said.

“It’s kind of a social injustice equity issue as well,” Cheung said.

Home Instead Senior Care did not return calls for comment.

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