Posted On: February 13, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits On The Rise

It looks like 2011 is starting off with an increase in the number of sexual harassment complaints filed with the Illinois Department Of Human Rights ("IDHR") and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), at least by my office. There are probably good reasons for the increases, including the fact that employers are feeling with a high unemployment rate, they can treat employees in a poor fashion. Many times along with filing a complaint of sexual harassment, I also file a charge of retaliation. This happens because the employor will fire or take other negative action against an employee when they complain of being the victim of sexual harassment.

It is very important for people to realize that in Illinois they have 180 days from the last date of the sexual harassment or retaliation to file with the IDHR. They do have 300 days from the last date for file with the EEOC, but in my experience it is better to file with the IDHR as they actually investigate the charge. In any case it is very important to speak with an attorney and discuss the details of your case. Even if you just wish to settle the case quickly, you probably won't be taken seriously if you are not represented by counsel.

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Posted On: February 11, 2011

EEOC Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit With Hussey Copper For $85,000

Hussey Copper settled its American With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $85,000. According to published accounts Hussey Copper refused to hire a job applicant because of his record of a disability and because they regarded him as disabled. Apparently Donald Teaford applied for a job as a production laborer and was offered the job but later Hussey Copper rescinded the job offer based on his disability.

Like most companies the job offer required Teaford to pass a physical examination. As a result of the post-job offer examination, the company’s doctor learned that Teaford was receiving methadone as part of a clinically supervised chemical dependency treatment program--normally given to heroin addicts. The company then rescinded the job offer, mistakenly concluding that Teaford was a safety risk due to his methadone treatments. Teaford was qualified for the position, was not experiencing adverse side effects from the methadone treatments, and the treatment program provided the company’s doctor with information verifying Teaford’s successful and compliant participation in the program.

“Methadone treatment is one of the most monitored and regulated medical treatments in the United States,” said EEOC attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. “This case should remind all employers that the ADA requires employers to make individualized assessments about an individual’s ability to do the job instead of acting out of speculative fears or biases.”

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Posted On: February 9, 2011

EEOC Files Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Against Presrite Corp.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against Presrite Corporation claiming it engaged in a pattern of unlawful discrimination by refusing to hire a class of female applicants for certain jobs. The lawsuit says Presrite rejected women for laborer and operative jobs because of their gender since at least 2005.

In gender discrimination lawsuits proof of the discrimination usually lies in comparing males and females regarding their hiring, pay, promotions and discipline. In this case, the EEOC will look at the qualifications and reasons why the females were not hired.

“Title VII makes sex discrimination in employment clearly and plainly illegal,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence

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Posted On: February 8, 2011

King Cones Ice Cream Shop Serving More Than Ice Cream

Rachelle Gray and Brianna Harvey, both former employees of King Cones ice cream shop claim its co-owner repeatedly made unwelcome sexual advances toward them and they both filed sexual harassment complaints. According to accounts which have been published, co-owner Eric Gavinsky propositioned both women while they worked for King Cones. Both women claim the sexual harassment was repeated and that Gavinsky would not take no for an answer.

The final straw came when their hours were cut after they refused to attend a swingers party. If they can prove this, they would have an additional claims of retaliation for refusing the sexual harassment and also a claim of constructive discharge. If an employee quits because the discrimination is to bad to continue working, it is called a constructive discharge. The other co-owner, Gavinsky’s wife, Pamela, observed some of the incidents and did nothing to stop it so she is also named in the lawsuit.

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Posted On: February 7, 2011

Student Files Sexual Harassment Complaint Against Ohio University Professor

A female student filed a sexual harassment complaint againt an Ohio University ("OU") professor. According to the published account of the allegations, the professor has been placed on paid leave after taking a former student to his home and buying her a $600 diamond ring. The professor, Regis Noroski, 61, a health administration professor set up a meeting with the student under the guise of getting a calculator back to him but instead turned it into a date.

Once the student arrived, Noroski made her have ice cream with him and then drove her to his house where he gave her a half dozen gifts including the diamond ring. He also told her she was the type of person he could have married. A university investigation concluded in December and found the meeting and gifts were a violation of OU's sexual harassment policy. The female student graduated from high school last spring and fall was her first quarter of college making her at least 40 years younger than Noroski.

"I was absolutely scared for my life," the student told OU officials in a Dec. 3 e-mail.

Continue reading " Student Files Sexual Harassment Complaint Against Ohio University Professor " »

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Posted On: February 6, 2011

Pacific Seafood Group Settles Retaliation Lawsuit With EEOC For $85,000

Pacific Seafood Group pays $85,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed on behalf of Jesus Perez. According to published accounts Pacific Seafood Group, Inc. illegally fired warehouse worker Jesus Perez after he complained to management about racial discrimination. Perez told his supervisor that he feared he had received a smaller raise than his non-Hispanic co-worker because of his race, he was told that if he was going to accuse the company of discrimination, they should part ways.

Perez was fired the same day he complained of alleged discrimination. This is the basis for his retaliation claim. If the company takes a negative job action against you based on your complaint of discrimination it is retaliation. In this case the evidence was clear, Perez was fired the same day he complained about a difference in pay based on race. The settlement amount is proof the company believed it did something wrong. Good job for Mr. Perez and his ability to hang tough and fight the company.

“I was shocked when they fired me.” “After working there for several years with a good record, I thought they would at least hear me out when I raised my complaint -- not fire me on the spot." Perez said.

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Posted On: February 4, 2011

School Bus Company Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

First Student which operates a school bus company pays $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of four women. According to published accounts a male supervisor sexually harassed at least four women, including bus drivers and a human resources assistant The four female employees also the victims of retaliation and some were forced to quit,which would be a constructive discharge.

Details of the lawsuit include the supervisor maing constant explicit remarks about the employees' body parts and the sexual acts he wanted to perform on them. It got progressively worse and the sexual harassment turned physical when the supervisor exposed himself, grabbed the breasts of a bus driver and rubbed his private parts against her body.

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Posted On: February 2, 2011

Female Sheriff Gets $211,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Tera White a female sheriff's sergeant was awarded $211,700 today by a jury in her sexual harassment lawsuit. According to published accounts White was subjected to sexual harassment by the county which employed her and by her supervisor Lt. Patrick Valdez. The sexual harassment included being asked out on dates to unwanted physical touching to two kisses.

White complained to management but nothing was done to stop the sexual harassment. In fact White was transferred to a job normally held by interns after she complained of the sexual harassment. This large amount of money by the jury sends a clear message that she was in fact the victim of sexual harassment and that the county should change its policies.

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Posted On: February 1, 2011

Two Bloomington-Normal Public Transit System Workers File Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Two Bloomington-Normal Public Transit System employees filed sexual harassment complaints against General Manager Jeffrey Logan with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). According to published accounts one employee alleged that Logan touched her arms during a meeting and her lower back while she was at a copier. The second employee said she complained of being sexually harassed on three separate occasions prior to filing her complaint with the IDHR.

Both employees said that when they complained, they were placed on administrative leave. If a company or organization takes a negative job action against an employee who complains about sexual harassment it could form the basis for an additional claim of retaliation. The case seems to be getting interesting as now Logan has been placed on administrative leave following a board meeting. Usually at this point the parties would explore settlement discussions and hopefully settle the case prior to a fact-finding conference by the IDHR.

Logan said he had no comment about the complaints.

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