Articles Posted in Retaliation

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by Peter M. LaSorsa

Windmill Farms Nurseries, Inc., pays $40,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). The EEOC charged the company with subjecting a female employee, Sheila Aguilar, to sexual harassment and retaliation by her immediate supervisor Alvaro DeSantiago.

According to published accounts, DeSantiago sexually harassed female employees who worked as planters at the nursery under his direct supervision. The EEOC claims that the harasser sexually propositioned Aguilar and offered favors if she agreed to be his girlfriend. The supervisor allegedly fired Aguilar less than a month after she rejected his sexual advances.

“It is critical for employers to take diligent steps to prevent and adequately address sexual harassment,” said EEOC Tampa Director Georgia Marchbanks.

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Cordia Senior Living Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $40,000

by Peter M. LaSorsa

Cordia Senior Living pays $40,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a former employee who had complained about sexual harassment. Under the law, if you complain about sexual harassment, the company can’t take a negative job action against you to try and shut you up. It is unfortunate but many times a company will just fire the employee rather than investigate a discrimination claim.

In this case, the company could have just investigated the sexual harassment complaint and taken the appropriate action. By refusing to take action and firing the employee, the company still has to deal with a potential sexual harasser and had to pay money to settle this case.

“We at the EEOC are encouraged that this decree not only remedies the retaliation that occurred, but will prevent retaliation in the future,” said EEOC attorney Hendrickson.

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Sexual Harassment By The Boss

by Peter M. LaSorsa

So my office gets calls all the time from employees who are in sexual relationship with the boss. Is this sexual harassment in Illinois or under federal law? In order to be considered sexual harassment, the sexual contact must be unwanted. So is what seems like a consensual relationship sexual harassment? Well the answer is it could be. Just like any decision to have sex, if the employee says I don’t want to have a sexual relationship anymore, the relationship must stop without any negative job action.

Also, an employee may feel pressured to enter into a sexual relationship with the boss for fear of losing her job is she doesn’t. This too would be sexual harassment under the law. And if after ending the sexual relationship, the boss fires the employee, this would be retaliation and liability would attach to the company and the boss. In Illinois, an employee could file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR“) and they will cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). Protect your employment interests and contact an employment lawyer if this is happening to you.

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Jury Awards Three Employees $500,000 In Sexual Harassment Case

by Peter M. LaSorsa

A federal court jury returned a verdict awarding almost half a million dollars to three former employees in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The case was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) against EmCare. According to published accounts, the women had to ensure constant lewd sexual comments and behavior of former AnesthesiaCare CEO Jim McKinney. Additionally, several other management-level employees in that Division also harassed the women.

In this case the jury also found that Human Resources did not respond to the women’s complaints about the misconduct. In what is even more shocking McKinney made an inappropriate remark to one of the women’s then-15-year-old daughter at a “Bring Your Child to Work Day” event. It is hard to believe the company took this case to trial and didn’t try to settle the matter.

“Ms. Stokes, Ms. Shaw, and Mr. Trahan spent their time at EmCare working diligently to do their jobs well despite the pervasive sexual environment that human resources allowed Jim McKinney to create and perpetuate,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Meaghan Shepard.

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DSW Inc. Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $900,000

by Peter M. LaSorsa

DSW Inc., pays $900,000 to settle an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). According to published accounts DSW, formerly known as Designer Shoe Warehouse, discriminated against seven former management employees. The details of the discrimination include the firing of employees over the age of 40 years old during a “reduction in force.” The company terminated older employees because of their age and retaliated against certain employees who opposed orders to discriminate against older workers.

“Age discrimination is a real problem in employment today.” said the EEOC district director in Chicago, John Rowe

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Bertolini Corporation Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $92,500

by Peter M. LaSorsa

Bertolini Corporation pays $92,500 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). The EEOC is tasked with investigating violations of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to published accounts, the company unlawfully retaliated against two employees after they complained about discrimination. Under the law, an employee may not have a negative job action taken against him or her, simply because they are complaining about discrimination in the workplace.

Many times companies get in trouble by not handling a discrimination complaint the right way. The company should properly investigate the claim and not treat the complainers as the problem. However, all too often, companies take the easy and lazy approach and just fire the people complaining. This usually results in a retaliation complaint and the payout of money. As you can see by this case, that approach doesn’t work.

“Federal law provides that employees have a right to complain about practices they believe are unlawful without repercussions, and the EEOC will continue to act forcefully to protect this right.” said EEOC Attorney Faye Williams

by Peter M. LaSorsa
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Turner Machine Company Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $80,000

by Peter M. LaSorsa

Turner Machine Company pays $80,000 to settle a retaliation a lawsuit. The federal lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). According to documents, which were made public, Ken Woodard was hired by Turner in June 2011, and worked as a mechanical engineer. The legal issues began for Woodard when he voiced concerns about mandatory employee meetings called “huddles,” which occurred every morning. During these huddles, employees would discuss milestones occurring in their personal lives including their religious affiliations and church activities. Woodard opposed this practice, and subsequently filed a religious discrimination charge.

The charge with the EEOC was resolved through an informal mediation process, but Turner Machine later retaliated against Woodard by firing him. You may not take a negative job action against an employee who complains about discrimination. In this case, the original complaint about religious discrimination is what triggered the retaliation by the employer.

“Employers have a duty under the law to ensure that their work environment is free of retaliation.” said EEOC attorney Faye Williams

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Goodwill Industries Pays $100,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

by Peter M. LaSorsa

Goodwill Industries pays $100,000 to settle a

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Metro Special Police & Security Services, Inc. Pays $155,000 To Settle A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

by Peter M. LaSorsa

Metro Special Police & Security Services, Inc., pays $155,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) on behalf of a group of male employees. According to published accounts, employees James Pedersen, Eric Steele, Daniel Griffis and a class of similarly situated male employees were subjected to sexual harassment by a male captain and a male lieutenant employed by the company. When the harassment is from a supervisor, there is strict liability on the company–as in this case.

The male employees were subjected to a variety of misconduct, including: the captain making offensive sexual comments to his male subordinate employees; soliciting nude pictures from them; asking a male employee to undress in front of him; and soliciting male employees for sex. The captain sounds like a real mad man. I can’t imagine working for a person who behaves this way. The captain and lieutenant also allegedly forced male employees to accompany them to a gay strip club while on duty. The Captain also offered promotions to certain male employees in exchange for sex.

“All workers have the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment.” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes

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Basta Pasta Settes Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $200,000

by Peter M. LaSorsa

SPOA, LLC and Marathos, LLC, which run the Italian restaurants Basta Pasta pays $200,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). According to published accounts Basta Pasta’s owner repeatedly subjected female employees, including at least one in her teens, to rampant sexual harassment. The harassment included rubbing his genitalia against the buttocks of some of them, engaging in other unwelcome touching, and frequently making sexually suggestive remarks and crude sexual innuendos.

The restaurant retaliated against a manager who had complained to upper management about the owner’s sexually offensive behavior. The restaurant warned the manager to “keep her mouth shut” and then fired her in retaliation for her opposition to the abuse. The restaurant also threatened the manager when she participated in the EEOC investigation, including pressuring her to recant her testimony, according to the lawsuit.

“It is always shocking when a company owner engages in blatant and outrageous sexual harassment,” said EEOC attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.