Posted On: August 31, 2010

Grays Harbor Community Hospital Sued For Sexual Harassment

Grays Harbor Community Hospital is being sued for sexual harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed the lawsuit on behalf of several female employees. According to allegations in the lawsuit, employee Jamie Toste repeatedly informed upper-level management that a supervising pharmacist was sexually harassing her and several other pharmacy technicians. The sexual harassment included offensive sexual comments, unsolicited discussion of his sex life and habits, showing explicit material from the Internet, and physically intrusive behavior such as approaching Toste from behind to whisper in her ear, blocking her pathway, and rubbing her back, legs and arms.

An investigation by the EEOC found the harassment of Toste escalated during 2006 and 2007, and that she felt compelled to resign after the hospital repeatedly failed to take effective corrective action to address her concerns about her safety. When an employee has to quit her job because of sexual harassment, it is referred to as a constructive discharge.

“Grays Harbor violated the law when it repeatedly failed to take action, despite numerous complaints from its employees concerning the conduct of this supervisor,” said EEOC attorney William R. Tamayo.

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Posted On: August 30, 2010

Pizza Pub Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $40,000

Pizza Pub pays $40,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of an 18-year old female worker. According to published accounts the manager of Pizza Pub subjected the female worker to physical touching and verbal comments of a sexual nature. The sexual harassment included telling her that he wanted to lick frosting off her body. The employee objected to his behavior but when it continued, she quit her job which is called constructive discharge.

If an employee is being sexually harassed at work and cannot escape the harassment other than quitting her job, it is the same as being fired. In this case the young woman was unable to escape the comments and physical harassment so she quit. Management needs to do a better job of training and supervising its' workers. Hopefully after paying this amount of money, the company will take the welfare of its' workers more serious.

“Teenage workers are especially vulnerable to sexual harassment in the workplace and must be protected. The EEOC will remain vigilant in its enforcement of federal laws prohibiting such discrimination in the workplace,” said Barbara A. Seely, EEOC attorney.

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Posted On: August 29, 2010

Librarian Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $250,000

The Library of Congress ("LOC") settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with Theresa Papademetriou former librarian for $250,000. The government doesn't seem to be able to spend money fast enough--even in this tough economic environment. I hope the person that did the sexual harassment is no longer working for the government.

According to published documents Papademetriou, a 27-year veteran of the LOC accused Dr. Rubens Medina, then-chief of the Law Library, of persistent harassment of female employees. Many times an employee who is close to retiring will not want to rock the boat and may put up with this type of behavior. I was glad to see Papademetriou hold her ground and fight for the rights of herself and others.

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Posted On: August 28, 2010

Binghamton University Pays $280,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Binghamton University ("BU") and the state of New York will pay $280,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by former fundraiser Elizabeth Williams. According to details in the lawsuit Williams accused two athletics department officials of using her as a sexual "plaything," to woo potential donors.

As is typical in a settlement like this, Williams resigned from her position as major gifts officer of the athletics department. You can bet the people responsible for this mishap will be called on the carpet. At a time when there are budget cuts and the economy is down, these athletic officials are costing the state much needed funds. I am glad Ms. Williams came forward and fought for her rights. It pays to hang in there. School sexual harassment seems to be happending more and people need to be vigilent.

"My feelings are it is a decent outcome," said BU interim president C. Peter Magrath.

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Posted On: August 27, 2010

Allegiance Industries Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $25,000

Allegiance Industries pays $25,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Brenda Lowery. Lowery was a female cleaning team supervisor and she was fired because the district manager wanted a male supervisor at the cleaning site where she worked. This type of behavior is against the law and is referred to as gender discrimination.

Many times even though a company will not come right out and say we are firing you because you are a female and we want a male worker, the evidence will show that is the case. For example if you are a good worker and you are replaced by a male, there isn't much else that could be going on. In other instances gender harassment or discrimination can take the form of creating a hostile work environment. In both cases, it is important to seek legal help and fight for your rights.

“Firing someone simply because of her gender is unjust and unlawful, plain and simple,” said EEOC Attorney Robert K. Dawkins.

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Posted On: August 25, 2010

Hospital Sued For Sexual Harassment--Gives New Meaning To Bedside Manner

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Garfield Medical Center alleging the hospital allowed a male worker to sexually harass an entire class of female workers. According to reports which were published, the sexual harassment included inappropriate touching and rubbing of body parts, propositions for romantic dates and sex-for-pay, graphic discussions of sexual activities, vulgar comments regarding female employees’ body parts, and even obscene comments regarding underage patients at the facility.

In an even more shocking revelation Garfield terminated an employee because she complained about the sexual harassment, while others were compelled to quit rather than endure the severely hostile work environment. When a worker is forced to quit because of a hostile work environment, it is called constructive discharge. This type of behavior by a large employer is sure to cost them plenty. I am glad the workers who are being sexually harassed decided to stand up and fight. This case will be followed closely and the results will be posted.

“The facts of this case are truly disturbing,” said Anna Y. Park, EEOC attorney. “While hospitals and health care facilities tend to focus on patient care, federal law requires them to protect their employees as well from harassment and sexual abuse.”

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Posted On: August 24, 2010

Racial and National Origin Lawsuit With Paramount Staffing Settles For $585,000

Paramount Staffing pays $585,000 to settle a racial discrimination and national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of African American workers. According to published accounts, the company failed to hire African Americans based on their race or national origin, American; and discriminated against African American employees on the basis of race or national origin, American; and engaged in retaliation against them.

Paramount hired Hispanics in bulk in order to pay less money to their workers. This wholesale discrimination resulted in an investigation by the EEOC and this lawsuit. Paramount is based in Illinois and this type of action will not be tolerated. It is great to see workers stand up for their rights and fight for what is right. Employment lawyers can look to this case and see the large dollar amounts that are available in Illinois for cases similar to this.

Faye A. Williams EEOC attorney said, “we commend the former employee who had the courage to step forward and file a charge of discrimination under Title VII. Her action allowed the Commission to challenge the employment practice, preferring one group of employees over another based on race or national origin.”

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Posted On: August 23, 2010

Cheaters Television Show Pays $50,000 To Settle Sexaul Harassment Lawsuit

The companies that own and produce the Dallas-based “Cheaters” television paid $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two female employees. According to published reports, two female office assistants were subjected to sexually explicit remarks and unwelcome touching from the companies’ owner and upper management for the duration of their employment.

The sexual harassment included frequent comments and jokes of a sexual nature, propositions for sex, and unwanted aggressive physical advances. One problem was there was no effective outlet for the women to complain about the behavior because members of upper management were participants in the harassment, and there was no employee handbook or policy explaining the procedure for reporting inappropriate workplace conduct at that time.

“Just because the creator of Cheaters promotes a TV show business which thrives on featuring sexual transgressions, it is no justification for engaging in sexual improprieties which violate the employment rights of his female employees behind the scenes,” said EEOC Attorney Robert A. Canino

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Posted On: August 20, 2010

Mercury Air Centers Gets Cleaned By EEOC and Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $600,000

Mercury Air Centers, Inc., will pay $600,000 to settle a national origin, racial and sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC'). According to allegations made by the seven victims – including one Filipino male and six Hispanic males the company tolerated large amounts of discriminatory conduct and did nothing to stop it. In one instance a Filipino line technician was regularly referred to as a “chink,” “chino,” and “stupid Chinese,” and subjected to offensive statements about Filipinos.

The alleged harasser peppered the Guatemalan workers with derogatory remarks regarding their national origin, including references to them as “stupid Guatemaltecos” and stating that Guatemalans are useless and inferior to Salvadorans. Prior to learning the actual national origin of one of the Guatemalan victims, the alleged harasser also called him a “stupid Mexican.”

“We commend Atlantic Services for taking steps to rectify the hostile work environment that persisted at Mercury Air Centers,” said Anna Park, EEOC attorney.

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Posted On: August 11, 2010

Illinois Human Rights Act Trumps Title VII On Sexual Harassment

In Illinois it is better to file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") rather than the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The reason is because the Illinois Supreme Court held that the plain language of section 2-102 (d) of the Illinois Human Rights Act imposes strict liability on employers for the hostile environment sexual harassment of employees by supervisory employees. The strict liability applies even if the supervisor has no authority to affect the terms and conditions of the employee's employment.

The Court held that it is not unfair to hold employers responsible for sexual harassment by supervisory employees because not only are supervisors the public face of the employer, but employers are in the best position to train supervisors and make them aware of the laws prohibiting sexual harassment. If you file a complaint with the EEOC, federal law will apply and you will be held to the standards of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is a much better approach to file with the IDHR and have more employee friendly standards.

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Posted On: August 10, 2010

Filing A Sexual Harassment Complaint With The Illinois Department Of Human Rights

I get questions all the time on whether to file a complaint for sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I believe there are great advantages in filing with the IDHR for certain cases and advantages for filing with the EEOC on others. First, in cases that large verdicts or settlements are unlikely due to the facts of the case, I file with the IDHR. The reason is the IDHR does a faster and more thorough job of investigating cases and bringing the case to the point where it will either settle or get set for a hearing with the Illinois Human Rights Commission.

The EEOC on the other hand does a poor job of investigating charges of sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination and in my experience it takes years for them to work the file. The advantage of filing with the EEOC is if you plan on asking for a right to sue letter and filing a lawsuit in federal court. I would only do this with the cases with the best facts. As an aside when you file with the IDHR they automatically cross-file with the EEOC. The bottom line is each case has to be evaluated on its' own merits and a determination made based on the facts of the case.

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Posted On: August 9, 2010

Two Male Police Officers Receive $300,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The city of New York will pay $300,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by two male police officers against another male police officer. According to published accounts, Leutenant Kieran Crowe was accused to fondling himself in front of two male sergeants. Both police officers agreed to the settlement which was broken down as follows: Sgt. Dominic Coppola will receive $175,000 and Sgt. Sean Gallagher will get $125,000.

Crowe retired from the NYPD in 2008 after he was found guilty of harassing the men. According to documents which were published as part of the investigation Crowe rubbed his crotch, simulated masturbation and wagged his tongue at the sergeants. The incredible defense for Crowe was that he had jock itch.

Crowe said, “It is possible because of medical conditions, but never in the way that these complainants have said.”

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Posted On: August 8, 2010

Five Police Officers Receive $900,000 In Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

A jury awarded $900,000 to five black police officers in a retaliation and racial discrimination lawsuit. The jury believed the officers version of events that they had been punished for complaining about racial discrimination. According to testimony at trial the officers who worked in the vice unit, complained twice about alleged discrimination in the vice unit. However, after they complained management labeled them troublemakers and their real problems began.

Management began to retaliate by withholding information needed to do their jobs, such as the presence of armed suspects in their vicinity. Within weeks of the officers' formal complaint, all five were removed from the unit and given lesser posts which the jury viewed as retaliation. I am glad to see these officers stick up for themselves and pursue this matter until the end. Before filing their lawsuit they first had to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

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Posted On: August 4, 2010

Danger Of Making False Sexual Harassment Claim

There is a real danger to making a false sexual harassment claim against somebody. A jury this month rejected the sexual harassment and retaliation claims a paralegal made against her former boss, lawyer Thomas Ostly, instead awarding him $1.55 million in damages in his defamation counter-suit. That is a serious amount of money and should make people think long and hard about making up false information in an attempt to get some fast money by filing a sexual harassment lawsuit.

The jury after hearing testimony determined paralegal Allison Moreno, acted with malice and oppression, laying the groundwork for awarding Ostly punitive damages. Morena claimed Ostly fired her when she refused to continue a sexual relationship with him. She said she felt pressured to have sex with her boss, and that she did so to protect her job and her plan to attend law school. The jury did not believe her and instead ruled in favor of Ostly.

"The system is not to be used improperly," Ostly said.

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Posted On: August 3, 2010

Female Police Officer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $100,000

Female police officer Jennifer Gentile settles her sexual harassment lawsuit for $100,000. According to published accounts, Gentile claims she was subjected to repeated and degrading sexual harassment after she moved from the day shift to the night shift. She claims it continued after a move to the detective bureau. Gentile said officers made commnets about her breasts and one manager even said he wanted to get in her pants.

Gentile went to great lengths to avoid coming into contact with co-workers who were sexually harassing her. She eventually asked to be moved to a different shift so she could avoid being around these men. The city did not take effective steps to stop the harassment after it was reported to top management. Now that the taxpayers have to pay this large amount I am sure management wishes it stopped the sexual harassment. In Illinois a case like this would be first filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

A police dispatcher told her he would like to "bend her over."

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Posted On: August 2, 2010

Restaurant Pays $170,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A Korea-based food company, which owns a restaurant called Chilbo Myunok agreed to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $170,000. The sexual harassment allegations were against a former restaurant manager by many women who worked as waitresses.

According to the EEOC, their investigation found a class of waitresses were sexually harassed at the Chilbo Myunok restaurant. The accused manager was fired which was a good first step. However, the manager was not fired until after the EEOC got involved. In addition to the $170,000 settlement, the agreement also stipulates that all employees will receive anti-discrimination training.

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Posted On: August 1, 2010

Six Female Police Officers Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit For Over $200,000

Six female police officers in Detroit settled their pregnancy discrimination lawsuit for over $200,000. As an additional term of the settlement, no employee or applicant will be asked if she is pregnant or anticipates being pregnant. Additionally the department cannot assign an officer to desk duty because she is pregnant unless she requests it or force her to go on unpaid leave.

The police officers alleged they were forced to go on sick leave, even if they could perform other duties. Five of the female officers said they were stuck at home without pay after exhausting sick leave. Many times it takes a case like this to change policy at a large corporation or government agency. In the future females who become pregnant will not have to endure this type of treatment.

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