Garda Gender Discrimination Sexual Harassment Case

Case name: Watson v. Garda World Security Corporation, et al.

Case type: Gender Discrimination

Filed in: [U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia]

Docket: [Case No. 1:15-cv-00124]

Case Summary

In February 2015, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a complaint against Garda World Security Corp. (“Garda”) on behalf of Nicole Watson, a former Vice President of Business Process and Integration, alleging Garda discriminated against her based on gender in pay and promotion, subjected her to a hostile work environment and sexual harassment, and retaliated against her, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act.

The Complaint sought compensatory and punitive damages.

A private contractor providing security services in conflict zones around the world, Garda is a male-dominated, “guys with guns” corporation, the Complaint alleged. In 2010, when Garda began plans to move its base of operations from Virginia to the United Arab Emirates, the company began minimizing the roles of women, ultimately pushing out employees like Ms. Watson, who had served in a range of senior roles at Garda, the Complaint alleged.

According to the Complaint, Ms. Watson was told to interview for a position with Garda’s California-based sister company, Garda Cash Logistics. During the interview, the Complaint alleged, the Chief Executive Officer of Garda Cash Logistics subjected Ms. Watson to lewd comments, forcibly kissed and groped her multiple times, and suggested that engaging in sexual relations with him was a component of any position with Garda Cash Logistics. Further, the Complaint alleged, Garda not only failed to take any action when Ms. Watson reported the CEO’s behavior, the company retaliated against her by threatening her career if she didn’t drop her complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, effectively forcing her from the company. Even after leaving Garda, the retaliation continued, according to the Complaint, with GardaWorld’s President and CEO threatening to end Ms. Watson’s career if she didn’t drop her EEOC complaint.