Posted On: December 31, 2009

City of Shippingport Pays $70,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The city of Shippingport agreed to pay $70,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Denise Cuteri. Cuteri is the former treasurer for the city. According to the claim Cuteri alleged she was sexually harassed by two road crew workers for months while working in the Shippingport offices. The two road crew workers were fired after an investigation and both were charged by police for the sexual harassment.

Road supervisor William T. Nelson and Jason Crooks were charged by police with repeatedly harassing Cuteri. The sexual harassment included making sexual comments, looking town her blouse and sending her explicit text messages. Text messages can often be used to prove sexual harassment and should be saved if you believe you are the victim of sexual harassment. Even if you delete the text message, there is software available to retreieve the deleted messages.

Posted On: December 30, 2009

Outback Steakhouse Pays $19 Million To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Outback Steakhouse settled a gender discrimination lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $19 million. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of over a thousand female employees in restaurants throughout the country. The lawsuit alleges that Outback Steakhouse unlawfully discriminated against female employees by treating the females different from male employees. In the legal industry this is known as discrimination based on terms and conditions of employment. The female employees were denied equal opportunities for advancement within the company.

When this happens to female employees it is known as the glass ceiling. The glass ceiling at a corporation takes place when females cannot get promoted to the higher-level profit-sharing management positions within an organization. In this case the female employees at Outback Steakhouse were not able to advance into upper management where the lucrative jobs are. In this particular case, the EEOC claimed females were denied favorable job assignments, including kitchen management experience. This is important because without experience in those positions employees were unable to make it into top management. If you look at the management profile of most corporations, they are still made up of white males.

“There are still too many glass ceilings left to shatter in workplaces throughout corporate America,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The EEOC will continue to bring class lawsuits like this one against employers who engage in gender discrimination on a systemic scale. Hopefully this major settlement will remind employers about the perils of perpetuating promotion practices that keep women from advancing at work.”

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Posted On: December 29, 2009

Jack In The Box Sued For Sexual Harassment

Jack in the Box is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment beacuse of frequent remarks about female employees' anatomy and unwelcome sexual advances and innuendoes. According to the lawsuit a manager is also accused of touching the victims inappropriately. The EEOC alleges that once management became aware of the sexual harassment and discriminatory conduct it failed to act and stop it.

Richard Bartels, the manager of Jack in the Box was named in the lawsuit. The name of the co-worker was not released. Another co-worker was allegedly sexually harassed and called the EEOC. The EEOC investigated the claims and filed the lawsuit on behalf of the workers once it was clear Jack in the Box would not settle the case. According to court papers one victim allegedly experienced sexual harassment for more than a year.

EEOC District Director Michael Baldonado of San Francisco said the alleged sexual harassment started in January 2007 by a co-worker and was continued by the manager in February 2007.


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Posted On: December 27, 2009

Sexual Harassment Cases Can Last For Years

People should be aware of how long a sexual harassment case can take if filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Take this recent case. International Profit Associates ("IPA"), a Buffalo Grove-based business consulting firm, had a sexual harassment case filed by the EEOC against it on behalf of more than 100 plaintiffs eight years ago. Not only hasn't the case settled, but it has yet to go to trial. According to documents filed in court sexual harassment was rampant at IPA. Women employed there claim they were groped, called names and solicited for sex constantly and those who refused or complained were punished.

There are reasons why sexual harassment cases like this can take so long. Defendants and their attorneys can gain an advantage by making the process drag out. People get tired of litigation and may be more likely to settle for less. Other people involved in the case can't recall details and when the case does go to trial, their memories may not be as clear as to facts and conflicts in testimony may occur. I recommend keeping a diary to refresh your memory and to write details you may otherwise forget.

"I think that's fair to say it is unusual," said Diane Smason, one of the original EEOC attorneys to file the case on June 12, 2001, and who is still on it today.

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Posted On: December 24, 2009

Allstate Pays $4.5 Million To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Allstate Insurance company settled an age discrimination lawsuit the the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ('EEOC") for $4,500,000. The lawsuit was filed by the EEOC on behalf of 90 claimants. The EEOC alleged that Allstate violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). Allstate which is based in Illinois is said to have treated a class of older workers negatively during a companywide reorganization. In particular Allstate adopted a plan called Preparing For The Future Reorganization Program. The program was part of Allstate’s reorganization from employee agents to what the company considered independent contractors. That program had a disproportionate impact on employees over the age of 40 because more than 90 percent of the agents subjected to the hiring moratorium were 40 years of age or older.

Of course Allstate denied that its hiring moratorium violated the ADEA, however the $4.5 million dollar settlement says different. Companies cannot institute policies that disproportionately affect older workers. There are many reasons why companies would like to get rid of older workers, namely they can pay younger workers less money, and younger workers are less likely to have large medical bills. Also, younger workers are less likely to challenge the policies of a company.

“We at the EEOC are now bringing more and more lawsuits like this one to challenge company-wide policies or practices which discriminate against a large number of workers,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “Make no mistake: As this settlement shows, we will insist on significant compensation and meaningful injunctive relief to resolve these cases.”

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Posted On: December 23, 2009

Whirlpool Employee Awarded $1 Million In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Carlota Freeman a former Whirlpool employee was awarded $1 million in a sexual harassment lawsuit against Whirlpool. The lawsuit was filed after Freeman was physically beaten and sexually harassment at Whirlpool. The other employee who did the beating, Willie Baker pleaded guilty to beating Freeman on the Whirlpool plant floor in 2004. According to the lawsuit Freeman claimed she was forced to work for two months in a hostile environment with Baker making sexual comments.

Freeman complained to supervisors at Whirlpool about Baker many times over a two-month period but nothing was done to stop the sexual harassment. After that, Baker physically assaulted her and Whirlpool could no longer ignore what was happening as criminal charges were filed against Baker and the authorities were brought it. The Judge in this case said Whirlpool failed to stop the harassment and failed to respond to her complaints.

"They pretty much turned a blind eye and thought this would go away," said Freeman's lawyer, Andy Allman.
Posted On: December 19, 2009

Sexual Harassment and Christmas Parties

Tis the season for holiday parties and workers who will do something stupid. It is remarkable what people do during Christmas parties once they are exposed to alcohol. If you have a work party and your attendance is required, what happens at that party is the responsibility of your company. There are many cases where employees are exposed to sexual harassment at a Christmas party. It is very important to protect your rights if you are exposed to sexual harassment at a party. Make note of any witnesses including waitresses or bartenders. Many times parties are held at upscale bars or nightclubs that have video cameras. It is very important to contact an attorney who handles these types of cases so the video can be saved as they are usually over-taped within a few days.

Posted On: December 17, 2009

Lafayette College Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit for $1.2 Million

Six women who claim they were sexually harassed by Barry Stauffer, a former security guard for Lafayette College settled their sexual harassment lawsuit for $1.2 million. According to the terms of the settlement each women will receive $200,000. All of the women allege they Stauffer grabbed the women's breasts and buttocks, looked inside their shirts, rubbed their shoulders and tried to kiss them. The women also allege Stauffer made sexually lewd comments and sent his co-workers sexually explicit material and pornography by e-mail.

This type of behavior is not acceptable in the work place and more and more of this seems to be taking place in colleges. This case was brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the six women. The EEOC investigates claims of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination. In Illinois a person who believes they are the victim of sexual harassment can file with the EEOC or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Both agencies have the same role, with the EEOC being on the federal level and the IDHR the state level. I prefer to file with the IDHR and have them cross-file with the EEOC.

“In this case, we took immediate action, in accordance with our published procedures, in response to any complaint of sexual harassment that was received. The College has a zero-tolerance policy with respect to sexual harassment" said Roger Clow Lafayette College Spokesman.

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Posted On: December 16, 2009

Bahama Breeze Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit for $1.26 Million

Bahama Breeze which operates a national restaurant chain settled a racial discrimination lawsuit for $1,260,000. The case involved 37 black workers at the company’s Beachwood, Ohio location. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the workers after settlement attempts failed. According to the lawsuit, Bahama Breeze managers committed persistent acts of racial harassment numerous times against black employees. These acts included calling black staff with racial slurs such as “nigger” “Aunt Jemima,” “homeboy,” and “you people.”

As if that were not enough, it is alleged that the managers also imitated speech patterns of black employees, and denied them breaks while allowing breaks to white employees. The employees complained numerous times to management however the racial harassment and discrimination continued. Management did not seem to realize how serious the racial harassment was and now that the company must pay over one million dollars I am sure they realize how serious it is. Aside from the settlement amount in this case, I wonder how much money Bahama Breeze will lose as a result of lost revenue from people who don't wish to give this company their business.

“No worker should ever have to endure a racially hostile work environment in order to earn a paycheck,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “It is particularly disturbing when managers engage in and condone the very unlawful conduct they are required to prevent and correct."
Posted On: December 15, 2009

City Pays $230,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Case

The city of Atherton will pay $230,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former police officer. According to court documents former Atherton police Officer Pilar Ortiz-Buckley alleged Public Works Supervisor Troy Henderson of making salacious remarks and grabbing her in the police break room. Ortiz-Buckley suffered back injuries during the alleged incident, which prevented her from wearing her police duty belt and made it impossible for her to do her job.

After Ortiz-Buckley filed an internal complaint with the town, administrators did almost nothing to discipline Henderson and in fact blamed the policewoman for the incident. This is a form or retaliation and happens very often in cases like this. Ortiz-Buckley later pressed charges and received a restraining order against Henderson. In the restraining order Ortiz-Buckley claimed Henderson had done this many times and was in fact a serial sexual harassor. Henderson denies all of the allegations.

"This is a significant amount of money, but litigation costs are very high," City Attorney Wynne Furth said. "It does not mean that the town agrees with Ms. Ortiz's claim. ... Atherton is a small town with a small budget."

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Posted On: December 14, 2009

Car Dealer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $500,000

Five former employees of Bell Road Kia and Bell Road Automall will receive $500,000 to settle their sexual harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation lawsuit against the car dealership. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the former employees and according to the lawsuit the hostile work environment included such disgusting comments as the females being called whores and cunts. The allegations in the lawsuit also say there was widespead use of computers to view pornography and one manager even masterbated while watching pornography and sitting behind a female employee.

According to the lawsuit an openly hostile work environment existed and the dealerships failed to take appropriate corrective action against the known harassers and instead retaliated against female employees who reported the sexual harassment. As a result of complaining to management about sexual harassment all five employees were demoted, terminated, or constructively discharged. This is referred to as retaliation and it violates federal law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Former employee Julie Blakley said, “We were repeatedly subjected to degrading harassment and the managers made it known to us that they did not take our complaints seriously. Our exposure to abuse was prolonged by the fact that employees did not receive adequate training on preventing sexual harassment or on the process for filing complaints.”

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Posted On: December 8, 2009

Farm Pays $14,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Schiemer Farms agreed to pay $14,500 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation alwsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Theresa Arias and Rebecca Jones. The two women alleged in their lawsuit that management at the farm permitted their sexual harassment by Mark Henry an employee, and then engaged in retaliation when they complained.

According to the sexual harassment lawsuit Henry made vulgar remarks and talked about his sex life including very vivid and graphic details. Henry is also alleged to have rubbed his groin against one of the women. The women were originally seeking over $100,000 each in damages but the amount was lowered once the case was filed and it looked like it would come down to a he said, she said situation. In cases like this where there may not be many witnesses and it is one persons word against another, the settlement amounts are usually lower.

“I feel like I’ve been dragged through the mud,” Farm owner Schiemer said.
Posted On: December 7, 2009

Thomas Dodge Subaru Pays $132,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Thomas Dodge Subaru will pay $132,250 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit involving two female employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed the lawsuit on behalf of the two former employees who allege that Thomas Dodge Subaru subjected them to pornography, offensive touching, degrading behavior and sexually explicit comments.

According to the lawsuit the two female employees were forced to resign which cost them their only source of income. The severity of the sexual harassment was the cause of their resignation. Additionally the lawsuit claims another woman was retaliated against by being fired after complaining about the sexual harassment. The company failed to take appropriate action to stop the sexual harassment and engaged in retaliation.

"No employer should allow such degrading and shameful conditions for women in the workplace," said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director of the EEOC's New York District Office.

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Posted On: December 6, 2009

Pregnant Corrections Officer Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $60,000

Niagara County will pay $60,000 to Traci Haner to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit. According to the lawuist Haner was a female Niagara County Jail corrections officer who was kicked out of the Corrections Officer Academy because she was pregnant. According to the lawsuit Haner alleged she mentioned her pregnancy on a medical form she filled out when entering the academy and was dismissed from classes 10 days later.

The lawsuit alleges Haner offered to obtain a doctor’s release allowing her to take part in training at the academy but the County refused saying she was a liability. The remarkable portion of this lawsuit is that after they dismissed her from the academy they assigned to her a full-time job that involved direct contact with inmates. In her lawsuit Haner contends that county policy calls for pregnant corrections officers to be placed on light duty work and have no contact with inmates. She alleges the County engaged in pregnancy discrimination by the conduct which violated her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Posted On: December 5, 2009

Building Company Pays $200,000 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Cherryville-based R-Anell Housing is paying $200,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision ("EEOC") on behalf of female applicants. According to the lawsuit the company refused to hire female applicants based on their gender. The lawsuit alleged the company a gender biased workplace which denied female employees opportunties available to men.

According to the lawsuit, discovery revealed that the company had not preserved applications and personnel records as required by federal law. This is typical behavior of a company that does not want people to see what types of hiring practices they are engaged in. In settlements like this a decree is issued in which the EEOC will monitor the company for four years to ensure it does not engage in gender discrimination.

Posted On: December 4, 2009

Nurse Suing Hospital For $1 Million In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Jessica Shell a Monroe County nurse is suing her former employer, Sweetwater Hospital for $1 million after she was allegedly sexually harrassed. Shell worked at Sweetwater Hospital in 2007 and according to her lawsuit more than one male co-worker made sexual advances and comments toward her. She is also alleging the CEO of the Sweetwater Hospital Association Scott Bowman sexually harassed her.

Shell alleges she complained of the sexual harassment to the hospital but they failed to stop the sexual harrassment. Shell also alleges she was fired after reporting the accusations which is retaliation. This case is shaping up to be a very explosive case with allegations involving the CEO. I believe that due to the current job market, many executives believe they can behave in any fashion they choose and the employee has to take it or leave.

Posted On: December 3, 2009

Animal Control Officer Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $64,000

Pat Gansen the 57 year-old Mason City animal control officer settled her age discrimination lawsuit against the city for $64,000. The lawsuit alleged the city allowed discrimination based on gender and age. Gansen also accused the city managers of retaliation when she complained about discrimination when they didn't promote her.

Age and gender discrimination are illegal and a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As part of the settlement both parties agreed there is not an admission of liability on the part of the city. Even though the city asked for this language in the agreement as do most defendants, the fact that they paid $64,000 speaks for itself. As the job market gets tighter and more employees are getting squeezed by their employers, many different types of discrimination are coming to the surface. It is important to discuss employment issues with an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.

Posted On: December 2, 2009

22 Female Teachers Get $1 Million For Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

22 female teachers who claimed in a federal lawsuit that they were the victims of gender discrimination settled their lawsuit for a total of about $1 million. $460,000 will go to the teacher and the remainded will cover attorney fees and costs. According to the lawsuit, the female teachers claimed that they were not treated the same as their male counterparts for things like prior teaching experience outside the district which resulted in lower wages.

The teachers are located in the Richland school district in Pennsylvania. This type of behavior is a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and in Illinois a charge could be brought before the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR.")These types of cases are expensive because discovery is usually need to determine things like the difference in pay between females and males. The good thing about a case like this however is that it is hard to destroy evidence of discrimination because the pay records are things which can't be destroyed and covered up.

Posted On: December 1, 2009

Japanese Restaurant Pays $30,000 To Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

Tepanyaki a Japanese restaurant will pay $30,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Alison Woodbury. According to the lawsuit Tepanyaki discriminated against Woodbury by firing her because she was pregnant. According to court records, Woodbury was hired as a server and during her initial training Tepanyaki learned she was pregnant and terminated her, which is retaliation.

It is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to discrimination against a pregnant person. Many times companies will try to make up reasons to fire a worker once she becomes pregnant and it is important for the worker to protect her rights.

"Under federal law, employers must permit pregnant employees to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs," said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill. "All workers, including pregnant employees, deserve fairness in the workplace. Women should not lose employment opportunities because of pregnancy."