Posted On: December 31, 2008

Sexual Harassment Complaint Filed Against Knox County Illinois State's Attorney

A Fourth Amended Sexual Harassment complaint was filed in the United States District Court, Central Division of Illinois, Peoria Division by three former assistant states attorneys against Knox County State's attorney John Pepmeyer. Dean Stone, Michael Kraycinovich and Tracy Jones filed a 15 count complaint, 07-1198, alleging violations relating to sexual harassment, first amendment, 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, wrongful discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress, libel and slander and State Whistle Blower Protection Statute.

According to the complaint, Illinois attorney Pepmeyer engaged in sexual harassing and discriminating conduct against employees of the Knox County State's Attorney's office including Constance Griffith, Jennifer Brown, Teresa Cummings and Tracy Jones. The three current plaintiff became aware of the sexually harassing conduct and acted in opposition to the conduct which resulted in their termination--which is commonly referred to as retaliation.

All three claim a civil rights violation under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 which states in part:
"Every person who under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, Suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable."

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Posted On: December 30, 2008

Sexual Harassment Case Against Auto Zone Settles For $150,000

Auto parts retailer AutoZone agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Illinois lawyers following the case will notice an upward trend in settlement amounts in these types of cases.

The EEOC had charged that an AutoZone store in Starke, Fla., subjected women to unwanted sexual language and fired one woman for complaining about it--which amounted to retaliation. In Illinois, retaliation is defined by the Human Rights Act.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, a new manager at the store introduced himself on his first day of work using a crude and explicit sexual boast and the vulgar comments continued from there. The manager allegedly commented often on employees' breast size, shared details of his sex life and bragged that a customer offered him sex with his daughter in exchange for a certain auto part.

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Posted On: December 29, 2008

Illinois Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago

A former Ambassador East Hotel worker Juana Sallis ("Sallis") filed a complaint against Defendant Portfolio Ambassador East, LLC, ("Portfolio"), owner of the Ambassador Hotel in Chicago, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging that she was subjected to a hostile work environment while employed at the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago when she was sexually harassed by two supervisors in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1); and that Portfolio discharged her in violation of the anti-retaliation provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 because she complained about the sexual harassment.

According to her complaint Sallis was employed as a housekeeper at the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, since May 3, 2000, and had satisfactorily performed the duties of her job. On November 23, 2005, Sallis was notified by a co-worker that another employee, Larry Cason, accused her of engaging in sexual acts with him. Sallis reported the incident to human resources director Elvia Munoz. Munoz and other members of the hotel management staff, including general manager Paul Lauritzen and executive housekeeper Bill Smith, "failed to take any action against Cason to have him cease and desist from engaging in his sexually offensive and derogatory behavior. Sallis alleges that as a result her work environment became hostile, egregious, outrageous, and offensive and severely affected her ability to perform the essential duties of her job.

On December 30, 2005, Sallis was discharged from her job as a housekeeper at the Ambassador East Hotel by Paul Lauritizen, Bill Smith, and Portfolio human resources director Linda Noriega. Sallis was told she was being discharged because she left work early on December 23, 2005. Plaintiff did not receive any documentation validating the reason for her discharge. On April 4, 2006, Sallis filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). On March 1, 2007, the EEOC issued a "right to sue" letter authorizing Sallis to sue under Title VII within ninety days. Sallis filed her lawsuit against Portfolio on May 24, 2007 and it is still pending.

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Posted On: December 28, 2008

Sexual Harassment Settlement of $200,000 Rejected

A sexual harassment case in Ohio in which two women accused Anthony Gutierrez the general services administrator and friend of the former attorney general Marc Dann of sexual harassment rejected an offer of $200,000. The woman are seeking $900,000 to settle their sexual harassment lawsuit. The women Cindy Stankoski, and Vanessa Stout claim persistant sexual harassment which has cost them their jobs. Stout quit and Stankoski is on an extended leave.

According to a report involving the investigation of the sexual harassment, the rude, vulgar and abusive conduct of senior management, including the attorney general himself, created a hostile work environment and sexual harassment was tolerated. Additionally, Jennifer L. Urban, a staff attorney who had alleged sexual harassment by Gutierrez also and Dann's top spokesman, Leo Jennings III, was fired. The office rejected Urban's claims of sexual harassment.

To show how expensive sexual harassment lawsuits are to defend, Littler Mendelson, a law firm hired by Rogers' office to negotiate a settlement, has received $41,198 thus far, more than twice the amount originally budgeted, attorney general spokesman Ted Hart said.

Posted On: December 27, 2008

Sexual Harassment lawsuit against Muskegon County Michigan Officals by the U.S. Department of Justice

The U.S. Department of Justice sued Muskegon County, Michigan accusing it of failing to protect female employees against a male co-worker who sexually harassed them. In Illinois employees or their sexual harassment lawyers have the option of filing a cliam with the EEOC or Illinois Department of Human Rights in either Chicago or Springfield.

A lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan alleging the county violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the complaint, Eva Amaya was employed as a Microcomputer Analyst in the District Court of Muskegon County Michigan. Beginning around February 2000, a coworker Eugene Beene made inappropriate comments to her and had inappropriately touched her.

Amaya reported the harassment to her supervisor Michael Flanery who was the District Court Administrator. He reported the harassment to Mr. Beene's supervisor Patricia Steele whose only remedy was for Amaya to keep her blinds open to prevent further harassment. The county took no further action.

Amaya continued to report harassment by Beene to the county including having her breasts and behind touched. Beene was finally fired in March 2006 after one woman filed criminal charges against him for his harassment and after women repeatedly complained of Beenes inappropriate sexual touching, starting in 2000.

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Posted On: December 21, 2008

Gender Discrimination Lawsuit: Jury Awards Former Police Chief $235,000

A federal jury in Mobile awarded the city of Prichard Alabama's former acting police chief Yvonne Baldwin $235,000 after determining the city offered her a discriminatory contract based on her gender and then retaliated against her for filing a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in 2006. Sexual Harassment and Gender Harassment attorney Peter LaSorsa discusses discrimination on his website on through his videos.

The six-man, one-woman jury found that the city of Prichard did discriminate against Baldwin on the basis of her gender when it offered her only a two-year contract to be the city's police chief. The male police officer who took the job after Baldwin rejected her two-year contract was given a five-year contract to do the same job. The male police officer also got another benefit in his contract that wasn't offered to Baldwin: six months' severance pay if terminated.

This case involves a legal term called Disparate Treatment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from treating applicants or employees differently because of their membership in a protected class. Protected classes are classes based on gender, race, color, national origin, or religion. The central issue is whether the employer's actions were motivated by discriminatory intent, which may be proved by either direct or circumstantial evidence.

Direct evidence is established when the plaintiff attempts to show that membership in the protected class was a motivating factor in the adverse job action. The Plaintiff may offer direct evidence, such as the defendant admitted that it was motivated by discriminatory intent or that it acted pursuant to a policy that is discriminatory on its face. It is no surprise that direct evidence of discrimination is not easy to prove given that most employers do not openly admit that they discriminate

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Posted On: December 20, 2008

NASCAR Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The fastest growing sport in history, NASCAR settled a $225 million dollar sexual harassment lawsuit yesterday, the terms of which are confidential. Former NASCAR official Mauricia Grant said she was subjected to racial discrimination and sexual harassment when she worked as a technical inspector responsible for certifying cars in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series from January 2005 until her termination in October 2007.

In her lawsuit she alleged 23 specific incidents of sexual harassment and 34 specific incidents of racial and gender discrimination. Among Grant's racial discrimination claims, she said she was referred to as "Nappy Headed Mo" and "Queen Sheba," by co-workers, was often told she worked on "colored people time," and was frightened by one official who routinely made Ku Klux Klan references. Grant also said she was subjected to graphic and lewd jokes and sexual advances from male co-workers, two of whom allegedly exposed themselves to her. After an investigation by NASCAR officials of Grant's claims the two male co-workers who allegedly exposed themselves to her were fired.

The settlement was reached after twelve hours of mediation earlier this month in New York. The mediation session was suggested by U.S. District Court Judge Deborah A. Batts after the first court appearance in what was expected to be a multi-year battle between the two sides.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government. The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct. Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim. The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.

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Posted On: December 17, 2008

Sexual Harassment Case against the Minneapolis Star Newspaper Settles for $300,000

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") announced the settlement of a sexual harassment case with the Minneapolis Star, the state's largest newspaper. The federal court in Minneapolis is still required to approve the deal.

The EEOC alleges in the complaint that the newspaper allowed a sexual harassment in that mailroom in the future.

For more information on sexual harassment please visit

Posted On: December 16, 2008

Sexual Harassment Alleged at Harrah's Casino

Harrah's Casino former marketing department employee Amy Leiker filed a sexual harassment lawsuit naming the North Kansas City Harrah’s casino and four current or former executives including General Manager Tom Cook, former human resources vice president Brad Warga, who now works for Harrah’s in Las Vegas and former Harrah’s marketing vice president Sherry Ellerbe and local spokesman Chris Krohn as defendants. Sexual Harassment lawyers in Illinois will note the details of this case would constitute harassment under the Human Rights Act.

Leiker’s lawsuit filed in Clay County Circuit Court, Missouri, included 17 alleged incidents involving improper conversation or touching by Krohn, including non-work related calls to her home after hours.

Lieker claims she took the appropriate steps to try and stop and report the sexual harassment by filing a complaint through a company hotline for employees and by filing a formal discrimination complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights ("MCHR"). Lieker claims after reporting the sexual harassment to both the hotline and MCHR, she was suspended, demoted and then fired
Harrahs denies all of the allegations alleged by Ms. Lieker.

Posted On: December 15, 2008

Survey of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") Cases

The EEOC in the last ten years has been active in pursuing claims against employers who sexually harass or otherwise discriminate against employees. Below is a survey of the dollar amounts employees have been awarded in cases brought by the EEOC.
In 2007, companies paid more than $65 million in prelitigation EEOC settlements alone.

EEOC v. Parmalat Bakery Division of North America, Defendant, a New Jersey division of an international company headquartered in Italy, was charged wtih sexual harassment, retaliation, and constructive discharge. The complainant was a sales division manager and the only woman in an office of four male executives. She was subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, sexually explicit comments inappropriate touching and the showing of a pornographic video. She was awarded $300,000. Case resolved in 2004.

Kosen v. American Express Financial Advisors, Inc., A group of female financial advisors alleged that American Express Financial Advisors, Inc.engaged in preferential treatment of male advisors in mentoring, promotion, compensation, and work assignments in violation of federal law.

This was a class action lawsuit in which it is alleged that they experienced gender and/or age discrimination including, but are not limited to, career advancement, failure to hire as a Financial Advisor, distribution of leads and accounts, work assignments, promotion. They were awarded $31 million dollars. Case resolved in 2002.

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Posted On: December 14, 2008

Sexual Harassment lawsuit filed by the EEOC Against Kroger Manager

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a lawsuit against the Portland-based grocery and retail chain owned by Kroger Co. Fred Meyers Stores Inc. The federal lawsuit alleges the store director and operations manager at a Fred Meyer outlet in Oregon City, Oregon repeatedly subjected women employees to graphic sexual discussions, unwanted touching and requests for sexual favors. The allegations also claim the Human Resouces manager witnessed the conduct and failed to take any action.

In addition, the EEOC alleges the managers retaliated against three female employees when they complained about the sexual harassment. This is a prime example of a company trying to cover up the alleged sexual harassment by targeting the victims rather than addressing the real problem and targeting the harasser. Many times victims are either fired, have their hours cut or have working conditions deteriorate to the point that they are forced to quit. This is a form of retaliation and the basis for legal action.

The EEOC enforces federal laws in the private and federal sectors prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age and disability.

Fred Meyer Stores, Inc., has agreed to pay $485,000 to three women who the EEOC alleged were subjected to harassment and retaliation.

Additional information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

Posted On: December 12, 2008

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Versace Wholesale USA and its President Patrick Guadagno

mans-face-sm.jpgAn employee of fashion icon Versace Wholesale USA, commonly known as Versace filed a lawsuit against the company and the president of the company alleging sexual harassment. Fay Rodriguez, who is the former assistant to the president of Versace Patrick Guadagno filed sexual harassment charges against her former boss in a Manhattan Federal Court.

According to she was forced to deliver extemely raunchy messages that were left for Mr. Guadagno by his various sexual partners. The messages included sex partners of Mr. Guadagno saying they received sexually transmitted diseases from him, one claims he was drugged with a date rape drug and then raped.

Versace has denied all of the allegations. This case illustrates an important point for executives and others in management who have assistants. One should not mix business and personal messages and other aspects of their lives. This is especially true is one thinks that messages may be delivered that are inappropriate for public consumption.

Posted On: December 11, 2008

Illinois Internet Information Search For Employee Background Information a goldmine or minefield?

Illinois Corporations and companies are turning to the Internet to find out about perspective employees. Utilizing social networking websites like facebook, myspace, avvo and doing google searches to find out what potential employees do in their free time and who they really are. This may open employers up to discrimination charges based on negligent hiring, negligent retention or respondeat superior. Additionally, employers are using the Internet to do credit checks and background checks which may lead to disparate impact challenges under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), credit checks (i.e. resulting in the reporting of credit scores") are done 35 percent of the time in making hiring decisions. Credit scores are much lower for counties that have high percentages of minorities, especially African Americans and Hispanics. Additionally, employees with disabilities may have Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") claims if they are not hired because of low credit scores. As a group disabled people have lower credit scores and therefore an employer who doesn't hire a prospective applicant because of a lower credit score would never hire a disabled person and may be subjected to an ADA claim.

The Internet provides a fast and inexpensive way to gather information about either employees or prospective employees. The problem with the Internet as an information resource is the information may be inaccurate or downright false.

A red flag to an employee that Internet related information may be used against him during the interview process would be mention of either a facebook, myspace or other social networking website. If you believe you were not hired or promoted because of information about you that was found on the Internet or because you have a low credit score, you may have a claim against an employer and should contact an attorney that concentrates in employment law.

Posted On: December 2, 2008

Sexual Harassment Case to be heard by the United States Supreme Court

A dispute about the responsibilities of public schools to protect girls from sexual harassment will be heard by the United States Supreme Court.

The parents of a Massachusetts kindergarten girl are suing the local school district alleging it was negligent in preventing their daughter from being forced to exposed herself on the school bus by a third grade boy from the school.

School officials and police said they couldn't find enough evidence to file charges and the parents sued the school district under two laws, Title IX of the Education Act Amendments of 1972, which bans discrimination at schools that receive federal funds, and under a U.S. civil rights law known as Section 1983, which broadly prohibits government discrimination.

The case will have far reaching implications regarding the behavior of children in school and the potential liability of schools and perhaps school bus companies.