Posted On: March 31, 2009

Adelphi University Pays $300,000 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Adelphi University agreed to salary hikes and payments totaling more than $300,000 to several female professors as part of a settlement of a federal gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The settlement calls for Adelphi to pay 37 women a total of $305,889 and give raises to 30 of them and also includes monitoring and training on anti-discrimination laws for three years.

The lawsuit, filed in 2007 on behalf of Judith Cohen, an education professor who is also an attorney, alleged that Adelphi was paying female professors less than male professors of the same rank. What happened at Adelphi is commonly referred to as a glass ceiling. In 1995, the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission issued its report on the employment of women at the highest levels of business. The Commission found that within Fortune 1000 industrial and Fortune 500 companies, 95-97% of senior managers were male.

"Working women should never be shortchanged by receiving unequal pay for performing equal work," Stuart J. Ishimaru, acting chairman of the EEOC, said

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Posted On: March 30, 2009

Basic Energy Settles EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit For $250,000

Basic Energy Services, L.P. agreed to pay $250,000 and consented to substantial injunctive relief to settle a sex discrimination and retaliation suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), the agency announced today. The EEOC charged in its suit that the Midland, Texas-based company, a major oil well servicing contractor, had discriminated against a former field attendant because of her sex and then fired her because she complained about a discriminatory promotion denial and sexual harassment.

It is alleged that Basic Energy Services denied Tawnya Smith, who worked for the company as a field disposal attendant, a promotion to field supervisor in 2006 because of her gender. Further, the EEOC asserted, Smith also was subjected to months of sexual harassment by her immediate supervisor, Roger Caldwell. After Smith filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and made an internal complaint about the sexual harassment, the suit said, the company terminated her in March 2007 in retaliation.

The EEOC’s suit was resolved by a consent decree, which was signed by Judge Tom Stagg on March 6, 2009 and entered into the record of U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on March 6, 2009.


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Posted On: March 29, 2009

Wheeler Construction Settles EEOC Lawsuit Based on Retaliation and National Origin For $325,000

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC)' settled its lawsuit with Wheeler Construction, Inc., a Phoenix-based construction company for $325,000 and other relief on behalf of Mexican workers. The lawsuit was based on discrimination because of national origin, harassment and retaliation.

The EEOC’s complaint alleged that employees Leonard Lopez and Juan Campos were subjected to harassment based on their national origin (Mexican) and retaliation for complaining about it. The harassment included comments by a supervisor referring to employees as “wetbacks” and “s--cs” and telling Latino employees to “go back to Mexico.” Lopez was born and raised in Glendale, Ariz., and had 20 years of service with Wheeler Construction at the time of the harassment. When Lopez complained to management about the harassment he was fired.

Campos also attempted to complain about the harassment and Wheeler failed to take any action to address it. After an EEOC investigation, the agency found that two additional employees alerted management of the discrimination and no action was taken.

Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the Phoenix District Office, said, “The fact that these employees work at a construction site is no excuse for the ethnic slurs that were used against Mr. Lopez and Mr. Campos.

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Posted On: March 28, 2009

Restaurant Chain $457,500 to settle EEOC race discrimination lawsuit

N-W ventures, the owner of several restaurants in three states will pay $457,500 to settle a race discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC had charged that N-W Ventures, LLC in Las Vegas subjected a class of African American employees to discrimination, including racial harassment and retaliation. The EEOC alleges eight black employees and other similarly situated individuals were forced to endure racist epithets and insults on many occasions. When some employees complained, managers retaliated against them by instructing supervisors to “get something on them, whether true or not,” and then firing them because of their race and as retaliation for the complaints.

Besides paying $457,500 to the discrimination victims, N-M Ventures LLC is prohibited from discriminating based on race, and from retaliating against any employee because he or she opposed discrimination. Further, the company must establish an appropriate and effective mechanism for handling complaints of discrimination, and provide training for its managers and employees with respect to the law against racial discrimination and harassment and retaliation at its Las Vegas facility.

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Posted On: March 26, 2009

Discount Store Marshalls Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $110,000

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") reached a settlement for $110,000 with TJX Companies Inc. (nyse: TJX - news - people ), which does business as Marshalls, T.J. Maxx and other stores regarding a sexual harassment lawsuit against a Marshalls store in North Carolina. The lawsuit alleged a male supervisor at a Marshalls store in Jacksonville of subjecting at least two women to unwelcome sexual comments, gestures and touching and that company management knew or should have known and failed to take corrective action.

A Hostile Work Environment existed as a result of the failure by management to take action to stop the sexual harassment. Once management is on actual notice of the sexual harassment, they must take steps to immediately stop the harassment--and they didn't.

In a statement, the company said the settlement isn't an admission of guilt but rather a decision that "enables the company to move forward."

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Posted On: March 25, 2009

Man Awarded $94,500 For Hostile Work Environment Claim

Luis Patino, former employee of Birken Manufacturing Co., who claims damages under Connecticut's employment antidiscrimination law because he was subjected to severe harassment during his employment, including the widespread use of antigay names and slurs in his workplace had his day in court. A jury found in favor of Patino on his hostile work environment claim, and awarded him non-economic damages of $94,500. Connecticut's employment antidiscrimination law is similar to the Illinois Human Rights Act which prohibits discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status (with regard to employment), age (40 and over), marital status, familial status (with regard to housing), arrest record, physical and mental disability, military status, sexual orientation and unfavorable discharge from military service.

However, Birken Manufacturing filed a motion to set aside that verdict, arguing that employers are not liable for antigay intimidation even though they are accountable for preventing other types of harassment in the workplace. Patino argues that what happened to him is employment discrimination and protected by the civil rights act of 1964.

Lambda filed a Legal's friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the verdict should stand because the state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation protects workers against the kind of "hostile work environment" that Patino experienced.

Lambda Legal's brief urges the trial court to hold that Connecticut employers who permit a work environment that is hostile to gay and lesbian employees violate state antidiscrimination statutes, and seeks to ensure that the law is rigorously applied to ensure that employers understand their duty to protect gay employees - like other employees - from hostile workplaces.

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Posted On: March 24, 2009

EEOC's Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Hospital Settles For $290,000

First Street Surgical Center, L.P. and First Surgical Partners, LLC agreed to pay $290,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC alleged that First Street Surgical Center, L.P. and First Surgical Partners, LLC subjected several female workers at their Bellaire, Texas, facility to a sexually hostile work environment and that First Street retaliated against women who complained about the unlawful conduct, which is retaliation.

According to the lawsuit a nurse who made a written complaint against the male supervisor was fired the following day and another woman was given a poor evaluation because she complained about the sexual harassment. Additionally, the male nurse made unwanted sexual advances and sexual jokes and innuendos to female colleagues and subordinates.

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Posted On: March 23, 2009

United Airlines settles lawsuit over hidden porn found on flights

United Airlines settled a federal sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former pilot, Capt. Lisa Stout, who grounded herself after repeatedly finding pornography hidden in the cockpits of domestic airline flights. According to the lawsuit Stout found pornographic photos of women on more than 20 flights in 2004 and 2005 and that United's efforts to catch the perpetrators were inadequate and the company retaliated against her after she reported it.

The photos were mostly found in hidden spots, such as under a cap on a safety device known as a "stick shaker," or taped to the lid of the unused ashtray. Stout logged each instance in the flight log and had maintenance workers take the photos down. The photos created a hostile work environment for Stout.

United argued that Stout could not have been offended by the sexually explicit photos because she once worked in a retail store that sold pornographic magazines, she sometimes sketched nudes as an artist and she had attended art shows displaying photos of nude women. United also argued that Stout was motivated to claim a mental condition so she could get long-term disability payments to support her art career.

Judge Coughenour ruled in November that it would be "highly unlikely" that a jury wouldn't find that the pornography made for a hostile work environment — one of the findings necessary to prove a claim of sexual harassment.

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Posted On: March 22, 2009

Seattle court sexual harassment case settled for $135,000

A former Seattle Municipal Court worker is getting $135,000 to settle a sexual harassment case involving a judge. According to the settlement agreement half the money will be paid by the taxpayers and half by Judge Ron A. Mamiya. The former courthouse worker is not identified in court documents and it appears the relationship started as a consensual affair last year. The former staff member, a mother of two, says Mamiya repeatedly made unwanted advances after they agreed to break off the affair-which constituted a hostile work environment.

In February 2008, the two began a sexual relationship, meeting at a hotel in Seattle and another hotel near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, she said. He also visited her in her court office in the late afternoon and would kiss her and touch her sexually. Mamiya became jealous when he saw her talking to other men at work according to the Seattle Times.

Mamiya has been a Municipal Court judge since 1981. He released a statement acknowledging what he calls "my horrible lapse in judgment."

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Posted On: March 21, 2009

Sexual Harassment complaint filed with EEOC at Binghamton

Binghamton University fundraiser Elizabeth Williams accused Jason Siegel, a senior associate athletic director, and the other Binghamton athletics administrator, Chris Lewis, of egregious acts of sexual misconduct in her sexual harassment complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Williams said she decided to come forward when harassing behavior was directed at her and others, including graduate assistants and interns, in front of groups of people.

BU President Lois B. DeFleur said Thursday the university doesn't tolerate harassment of any kind, adding that fostering a respectful and professional environment on campus is among the university's fundamental values, according to the New York Times. According to the complaint, Williams was hired in March 2008 as the university’s regional director of major gifts, and she switched to raising money for the athletic department in January.

She said the harassment began her first day in the department, when she was told by Lewis that she needed to engage a donor at a Binghamton game because he liked “chesty, loudmouthed women.”

One week later, Williams said, she attended a dinner in New York with Siegel, Lewis and major donors from a fraternity. Soon after dinner began, she said, a donor began putting $100 bills on the table and asked her to tell him to stop when there were enough there for her to sleep with him. Williams claims this created a hostile work environment.

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Posted On: March 20, 2009

Over 100 Female Prison Employees File Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

In Florda 111 female employees filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections, alleging they were subject to constant sexual harassment from male inmates. The women who are mostly nurses, said while they made their rounds, male inmates used graphic language and masturbated toward them. 'The conduct is so hostile, notorious and commonplace that it is referred to by prison staff and inmates alike as 'gunning,' '' according to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 of the 111 current and former employees and their' right to be free from sexual discrimination and harassment. The woman are alleging the creation of a hostile work environment.

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Posted On: March 19, 2009

Update: Muskegon County Michigan Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $120,000

In a case first reported in this Blog in December 2008, Muskegon County has agreed to pay $120,000 to settle allegations that it failed to protect court employees from sexual harassment. Eugene Beene, the man who sexually harassed the women served a jail sentence for fourth-degree attempted criminal sexual conduct.

The lawsuit was filed in December 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan and alleged that Muskegon County violated Title VII by failing to take adequate remedial measures to remedy ongoing sexually harassing behavior perpetrated by the former employee's coworker--Beene. The woman claimed the creation of a hostile work environment.

"The Department of Justice commends Muskegon County for working cooperatively to resolve this case without protracted litigation, and for taking positive steps to provide a workplace free of harassment for its employees," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

According to the terms of the consent decree, Muskegon County will pay $120,000 in damages to the former female employee on whose behalf the United States filed the lawsuit.

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Posted On: March 18, 2009

Jury finds Niner Winery owner not guilty of sexual harassment

This case was reported in this blog on March 12, 2009 and now the verdict is in. Not guilty of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment. After deliberating less than a day, a San Luis Obispo County California jury found Niner winery owner not guilty of sexually harassing Tammi Herron, a former employee of his company. Tammi Herron 44, a part-time hand model and single mother of two, alleged her former boss, Dick Niner, had made unwanted sexual advances toward her while she was working as a sales representative for his Niner Wine Estates company in 2007.

The jury found neither party’s story about what happened to be completely credible, according to two jurors, Kelley Day, 39, of Arroyo Grande, and Bettina Evans, 52, of Shell Beach, who spoke to The Tribune after the verdict was read. Dick Niner claimed he never kissed or had any contact with Herron. Herron claimed they kissed and Dick Niner wanted more including a sexual relationship.

Day, who was the jury foreman, added, “There was a lot of debate on how much his advances were actually ‘unwanted.’ … No one had a whole lot of sympathy for her. We felt she worked the situation.

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Posted On: March 17, 2009

Waffle House Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $45,000

Four night-shift servers, Paula Michelle Clark, Sandy McEwen, Ina Cowan and Tammy Walker who worked at the Waffle House were awarded a $45,000 judgment against parent company SouthEast Waffles, LLC, for alleged sexual harassment by a night cook. The women also alleged that management did not take their complaints seriously and did not stop the harassment. The complaint was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged sexual harassment, a hostile work environment and retaliation.

A federal judge in the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy action ordered SouthEast Waffles to allow the discrimination claim filed on behalf of the women to continue despite the bankruptcy action by the company. Under terms of a three-year consent decree, SouthEast Waffles cannot subject women employees to sexual harassment, and it must undertake anti-discrimination training, as well as report to the EEOC any similar complaints during the agreed-upon consent period.

The four women claim cook and third-shift boss John Norman touched them inappropriately, made unwanted sexual advances and requests for sexual activity.

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Posted On: March 16, 2009

Age Discrimination Claims Highest In History According To The EEOC

Discrimination claims filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") last year rose to the highest in the agency’s 44-year history. Many believe this is a result of last years Supreme Court ruling that changed the way complaints may be filed. The EEOC said 95,402 claims were filed during 2008 which represented a 15 percent increase from 2007. Of the EEOC's total claims more than 25 percent contained an allegation of age discrimination while more than 34 percent included complaints of retaliation.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that workers need not file a formal complaint with the EEOC before suing an employer for age discrimination. The EEOC said it recovered $376 million for claimants last year as it filed 290 new lawsuits and resolved 339 suits and 81,081 non-litigation claims.

“Older workers generally cost more,” consequently, they’ve become job-cut targets, said the lawyer, a principal of Hannafan & Hannafan Ltd. “The companies are probably discriminating.”

Filing a discrimination claim can be a job-defense tactic, Sternberg, a partner at St. Louis-based Thompson Coburn LLP, said. “The law doesn’t have a fairness requirement, one has to translate that feeling of unfairness to unfairness based on a protected characteristic,” such as age reports

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Posted On: March 15, 2009

EEOC Files Lawsuit Against HD Supply Alleging Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

The EEOC filed a lawsuit against HD Supply alleging that a secretary suffered repeated sexual harassment , retaliation and gender discrimination including sexually explicit language, unwelcome sexual advances and inappropriate touching. The EEOC claims HD Supply retaliated against the woman for complaining about the sexual harassment, was aware of the sexual harassment, and failed to take adequate steps to stop or prevent the sexual harassment.

Sex-based harassment and retaliation violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction enjoining HP Supply from engaging in further discrimination, harassment or retaliation.

"Employees should be able to enjoy a work environment free of sex-based harassment," said the regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office, Anna Park.

HD Supply is a leading nationwide wholesale supplier of building materials and has over 2,800 employees nationwide.

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Posted On: March 14, 2009

Board of Education Settles Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit for $125,000

Joni Kane, the Vineland New Jersey School district's public information assistant, alleged she was placed in a hostile work environment, denied appropriate promotions and pay increases, and sexually harassed by John Sbrana and the school district.

According to the lawsuit, Kane joined the communications office in December 1997 as a part-time clerk after being interviewed by Sbrana. A month into Kane's employment, Sbrana began making sexual advances toward her and sent suggestive e-mails to her private account. Several times during 1998, Sbrana made excuses to show up at Kane's home after hours. Kane claims in retaliation for spurring Sbrana's advances she was told she would be working holidays, evenings and weekends without overtime.

Most board members object to how the sexual harassment case was handled from the moment it was first reported in 2006 through the subsequent legal investigation, according to the
The Vineland Board of Education decided to settle the lawsuit rather than risk a potential large judgment.

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Posted On: March 13, 2009

Jerseyville Elks Lodge Sued By EEOC For Retaliation and Sexual Harassment

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a federal lawsuit against Elks Lodge No. 954 in Jerseyville, accusing the group of violating federal law by sexually harassing three female bartenders and then taking reprisals against them when they complained, also known as retaliation. The EEOC alleges Vicki Vickers, Elizabeth Stemm and Jackie Davidson were subjected to unlawful sexual harassment by three members of the Elks' board of trustees on numerous occasions while working at the lodge in 2005 and 2006.

The EEOC alleges Joe Ritter, Allen Dunham and Dennis Prough, had unwelcome sexual advances and touching, as well as sexually explicit comments directed at the three women. The lawsuit contends that after the victims complained about the conduct, their work hours were cut, they were assigned the least desirable shifts, and they were subjected to threats and other abusive verbal comments--retaliation. Davidson was terminated, and the environment became so hostile that Vickers was compelled to resign, the suit alleges.

"Employers have an absolute duty to prevent their employees from becoming the object of sexual abuse by people who are in a position of authority," said James R. Neely Jr., district director of the EEOC's St. Louis District Office

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Posted On: March 12, 2009

Niner Winery Owner Denies Sexual Harassment Charge

Winery owner Dick Niner testified at the sexual harassment trial that sexual advances from Tammi Herron a former employee alleging he sexually harassed her never happened. Pam Niner, Dick's wife also testified that Herron used her “feminine wiles” to advance in their Paso Robles-based company, and that Herron acted in a pandering manner toward her husband when she visited the couple at their Jackson Hole Wyoming home.

Herron’s lawsuit alleges that Pam Niner and Mike Musso, general manager for Niner Wine Estates, tried to force her out of her job when Pam Niner realized her husband had more than a professional interest in the employee. Herron only worked four months as a sales representative before resigning and filing her lawsuit. Herron claims Dick Niner told her he loved her while they were at the bar of the San Luis Obispo restaurant Koberl at Blue. She also alleged he tried to negotiate to see her more frequently, and then later kissed her with an open mouth twice in her car as she dropped him off at the Niner Wine Estate office.

“The events didn’t happen. … I’m loyal to my wife. I have been for 37 years,” Niner said.
Pam Niner said Herron was one of those women who too often use their feminine wiles to get jobs and advancement.

Herron claimed in her lawsuit that her work environment changed and became a hostile work environment after she stayed as a guest in the Niners’ Wyoming home. Dick Niner paid for her and her children’s round-trip flights, sponsored Herron’s daughter at a Wyoming summer camp and offered Herron a place to stay for a week.

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Posted On: March 11, 2009

Neurosurgeon Awarded $1.6 Million in Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

A federal jury of seven men and two women awarded Dr. Sagun Tuli, a Brigham and Women's Hospital neurosurgeon, $1.6 million in her sex discrimination lawsuit against the hospital and against the chairman of her department, Dr. Arthur Day. According to the jury Tuli was subjected to a hostile work environment at the hospital where she has worked for more than six years and the hospital retaliated against her for complaining about the hostile work environment.

Tuli said Day continually made demeaning statements to her while she was operating, telling her during one surgery in May 2007,

"You are just a girl. Are you sure you can do that?''

The lawsuit was filed in December 2007 in Boston case number 2007cv12338.

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Posted On: March 10, 2009

Burger King Avoids The Whopper and Only Pays $85,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Burger King Corp. will pay $85,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed on behalf of Kathleen Joyner a North Carolina woman who was harassed by her general manager, accoding to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit Joyner complained to her assistant managers, who failed to take action. The lawsuit was filed under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The settlement with the EEOC requires Burger King to review their anti-sexual harassment policy with all new employees and provide anti-harassment training to all managers and shift coordinators at the Clemmons restaurant and at the Winston-Salem Burger King where Joyner's general manager was transferred.

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Posted On: March 9, 2009

Secretary Settles Sexual Harassment Case for Almost $1 Million

Ann Marie Spagnola, a former secretary in the Morristown mayor's office settled a federal sexual harassment lawsuit for nearly $1 million. Spagnola filed suit in 2005, alleging she was subjected to a hostile work environment by being exposed to sexually explicit materials on office computers.

Spagnola, in a lawsuit filed in 2005, charged she encountered several sexually inappropriate situations that violated her civil rights, causing her to suffer depression, emotional distress and humiliation. In exchange for the payment,
But Spagnola's attorney, Lisa Manshel of Millburn, said Monday

"that the case sends a message that employers have an obligation to control employees' use of computers"

The settlement included no admission of guilt. Spagnola agreed to withdraw claims against former Mayor Jay Delaney, former administrator Eric Maurer and former assistant counsel Michael Rich. Delaney has questioned the merits of the case.

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Posted On: March 8, 2009

Attorney Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against States Attorney

Brenda Keys, a Florida attorney filed a complaint against the State Attorney’s Office for the 14th Judicial Circuit, on allegations of sexual harassment, hostile work environment sexual harrassment, and retaliation. These allegations regard specific incidents between Keys and former State Attorney, Steve Meadows. Keys claims that Meadows demoted her and cut her bonus in half once he learned she was helping other co-workers file sexual harassment complaints against him. According to the report, Meadows says Keys’ work was poor. However the Florida Human Relations Commission findings claim that a recent review rated Keys as stellar.

One of the findings relating to hostile work environment sexual harassment includes allegations of Meadows having sex with an employee in his private office. The commission says Meadows had no credible evidence to refute these allegations. Steve Meadows told News 13 he and the woman involved in this situation dated for a brief period in 2005, it was a consensual relationship with a history of more than 10 years and that she has not filed any complaints.

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Posted On: March 7, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Restaurant Depot

Stephanie Chiafos, a former employee of St. Paul restaurant supplier Restaurant Depot has accused two of her former supervisors of sexual harassment in an eleven page lawsuit filed in federal court. The lawsuit alleges that when one supervisor, John Ruhulessin was fired after having a number of complaints made against him by female employees, the man who temporarily replaced him , Tommie Brown continued the sexual harassment. Chiafos alleges the replacement supervisor even sexually assaulted her while on the job.

According to the lawsuit, the company did not take the accusations being made against the first supervisor serious until Chiafos hired an attorney. The lawsuit was filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Minnesota Human Rights Act and based on negligent supervision and retention. The Minnesota Human Rights Act is analogous to the Illinois Human Rights Act.

The lawsuit alleges that Brown put his hand down the front of Chiafos's shirt, touched her breasts, and made propositions for oral sex. In fact, according to the lawsuit, on the day Brown fired Ruhulessin for his inappropriate sexual comments, Brown told Chiafos

"blow him for lunch" because he had a bad headache from having to fire Ruhulessin.

A complete copy of the lawsuit is available by clicking on 09-cv-00499

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Posted On: March 6, 2009

Henry County Animal Control Department Sued For Sexual Harassment

The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois against Henry County, Ill., alleging that former employee Michelle Baze was sexually harassed by her supervisor Jack Anderson, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The complaint alleges that Baze's former supervisor in the Henry County Animal Control Department subjected her to sexual harassment, including unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature and inappropriate sexual comments, during the course of her employment as a secretary. Baze further alleges that Henry County had been aware that the same supervisor had sexually harassed Baze's predecessor, but failed to take action to prevent him from harassing Baze.

Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion. Baze alleges the creation of a hostile work environment as a result of the harassment.

"Title VII ensures that women can participate in the workplace free of harassment based on sex,"
said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. "The Department of Justice will actively pursue cases against employers who fail to take adequate steps to prevent and correct sexual harassment."

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Posted On: March 5, 2009

Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Lodge

Five former employees of Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Lodge in Utica Illinois, Leno Campbell, Suzanne Czarnecki, Michael DeLap, Mark Low and Lisa Meyers filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming sexual harassment, racial discrimination and gender discrimination. The lodge's owners are Joseph Hook, Keith and Susan Wolick. The lawsuit also alleges the owners fostered an environment in which sexual harassment of female employees by the male owners was common.

Campbell, an african-american, was the lodge's director of housekeeping and is claiming the owners discriminated against him because of his race including that Wolick often made remarks critical of blacks to other employees and to Campbell himself. Czarnecki the former resort's revenue manager, and Meyers a former reservationist are claiming they were discriminated against because they were women and also allege Hook made sexual remarks and committed assault and battery against them, in that he made physical contact of a sexual nature without their consent.

The resorts attorney Mike Moody had this to say about the lawsuit:

"After an exhaustive investigation by the (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in which Grand Bear cooperated and steadfastly defended against these false charges, the EEOC terminated its investigation and filed no charges against Grand Bear. Grand Bear has every confidence that it will be vindicated in a court of law and denies that it discriminated against anyone in any way."

However, Plaintiff's attorney Erika Pedersen responded by stating:

““The EEOC terminated its investigation of the claims against Grand Bear only because we, the plaintiffs, asked it to. We wanted to advance the litigation to federal court so we asked the EEOC to issue our clients their Notices of Right to Sue, which it is obligated to do. The EEOC made no finding either way and nothing about that process can or should be interpreted as a reflection on the merits of the claims or defenses. The allegations are very disturbing and serve as a reminder that sexual and racial harassment are still significant problems for many employees in this country. Each of our clients hopes that by bringing these claims, the working environment becomes better for current and future employees of Grand Bear and elsewhere.”

By way of background victims of discrimination must first file with the EEOC before they can file in court. In this case it was the intention of the Plaintiffs to proceed to federal court rather than wait for the EEOC to complete its investigation, which can take years. The Plaintiffs fulfilled their obligation by filing charges first with the EEOC and once they exhausted the administrative process, proceeded to court by filing their lawsuit.

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Posted On: March 4, 2009

Horse Farm Settles Sexual Harassment Case With EEOC for $180,000

A Maryland horse farm owned by philanthropist Robert E. Meyerhoff settled a federal sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $180,000. The EEOC alleged the horse farm harassed Lindsay Donovan while she was employed as a farmhand. The EEOC also alleged that Donovan and her co-workers, Paul Stewart and Lee Anne Stewart, were fired after Donovan complained about sexual harassment and identified the Stewarts as witnesses who could support her claims. The $180,000 will go to Donovan and the Stewarts, according to the settlement terms.

Fitzhugh LLC, which operates Fitzhugh Farm near Phoenix, also said it would implement an anti-harassment policy and provide training to employees and managers on the prevention of employment discrimination, according to a consent decree filed yesterday in the U.S District Court in Baltimore.

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Posted On: March 3, 2009

Athletic Club Settled Settle Harassment Lawsuit For $161,000

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleged that Big Vanilla Athletic Club violated federal law specifically the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by sexually harassing several female employees at several of the company's Maryland locations. According to the lawsuit the women were subjected to repeated and unwanted sexually offensive remarks and sexual advances as well as retaliation for filing their sexual harassment complaints with the EEOC.

As part of the settlement, Big Vanilla Athletic Club must train current and future managers on anti-discrimination laws and post notices stating its commitment to maintaining an environment free of sexual harassment and retaliation.

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Posted On: March 2, 2009

Former Cosco Employee Who Was Awarded $420,000 For Discimination Sues Again

Two months after Costco was ordered to pay $420,000 to Juan I. Valera, a gay and HIV-positive employee who was subjected to a hostile work environment, the man sued Cosco again Tuesday, claiming Costco failed to reinstate him as a photo manager which is an act of retaliation because of the jury award and because of his sexual orientation.

On Dec. 3, a jury found that Valera endured a hostile work environment at the Inglewood warehouse and awarded him $420,000 plus $471,240 in attorneys' fees, and another $39,540 in costs. The case started when a new general manager, John Weaver, arrived at Cosco in 2005 and casually used the word "queers" in a statement. Valera took a leave of absence because of the stress, and when he returned asked the assistant general manager to protect him from further insensitive remarks. Instead his work load was doubled and his pay was cut.

Valera was forced to take a second continued stress leave and was demoted to cashier. He was later stripped of his benefits and left with no health insurance. At one point other employees made a video making fun of Valera.

The tape begins with one employee stating to another employee, Carlos Taylor:

"Carlos, I have a dilemma; next Friday is my Auntie Juan's bar mitzvah. He is a transsexual."

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Posted On: March 1, 2009

Former Educational Assistant is Suing Las Vegal School For Sexual Harassment

An unidentified woman in a recent lawsuit said a Las Vegas' Robertson High School computer technician requested sexual favors and the school district didn't do anything about it. Superintendent of schools Richard Romero said the former superintendent Pete Campos who is named in the lawsuit investigated the matter and the technician, Pete Garcia, was disciplined. The sexual harassment lawsuit also alleges Garcia drove the bus for the softball team and leered at girls while they were changing. Garcia still works for the school district.

This school district was the subject of a few other incidents of sexual harassment within the last year. After a summer football camp, six students were accused of sexually assaulting younger teammates. Not long after that two school employees were accused of separate sexual harassment incidents according to In the most current lawsuit, the former educational assistant quit after being subjected to the sexual harassment and after the school did not stop it. This is called constructive discharge.

"All I can do is sit down with him and say you've been warned and if it happens again, you'll be terminated and we've had that conversation,” Romero said.

That response from Romero does not seem adequate enough for the woman who filed her sexual harassment claim. In Illinois sexual harassment at an educational institution, also known as school sexual harassment is Illegal. The educational institution is required to stop the sexual harassment when it becomes aware of the sexual harassment.

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