January 8, 2012

Being Discriminated Because Of Religion In Chicago

My Chicago offices gets emails and visits from people who are the victims of religious discrimination at work. So what exactly is discrimination based on religion? You can't be treated different at work based on your religious beliefs. And the employer must make changes to the schedule that don't create a hardship on the business if your religion requires it. So if you can't work on a certain day because of your religious beliefs and it doesn't create a burden on your employer he must give you that day off. If this doesn't happen and your employer continues to treat you this way, you are in a hostile work environment and you have a right to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the complaint and gather documents from your employer.

If the IDHR finds that you are in fact being discriminated against you will have a right to file a complaint directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The actual procedure is the IDHR sending you a letter stating that they found substantial evidence and you now have 90 days to file your complaint with the IHRC. This is where the actual trial will take place and you will have an opportunity to confront your employer and his witnesses. The trial will take place in front of an administrative law judge and the remedies available to you include, back wages, future wages, money for medical care, lost benefits, attorney fees and money for emotional distress. You can also ask for your job back. All of this puts pressure on the other side and the chances of settlement if you have a decent case are good. Don't let your employer discriminate against you because of your religious beliefs.

January 7, 2012

Illinois Human Rights Commission Pre-hearing Memo

My Chicago offices gets calls all the time from people who are representing themselves in front of the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). They may have a claim of sexual harassment resulting in the creation of a hostile work environment or some other form of discrimination. The first step of course is to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). After the IDHR issues its' report and finds substantial evidence you then have 90 days to file directly with the IHRC. Now the case really starts. Do you know what to do next? Are you going to be able to proceed on your own? Chances are the answer is no. But if you insist on proceeding on your own you should know the basics.

You will be given a trail date. This usually just acts as a first status with the Judge. The reason for this is both parties usually want to engage in discovery. So the first trial date is not really a trial date. When you do get your first trial notice you will see that there is a statement about a pre-hearing memo being filed 10 days prior to the start of the trial. What is this and how should you approach it. An experienced trial lawyer will be able to handle this for you and will have filed this document many times. It is very important that you fill this out properly or it could affect your trial. I suggest you don't fill this out alone. If you are going to fill it out alone read the rules on the IHRC website and follow their instructions. Remember this memo is very important, will list your witnesses you will call, and the evidence you produce at trial. Don't list an important piece of evidence and you can't use it at trial.

December 27, 2011

Chicago Hostile Work Environment Facts

I get many calls from people in the Chicago area about their work place and what they believe is a hostile work environment. So what is a hostile work environment in Illinois? Well from a legal perspective, it is being treated different based on a protected category and then this treatment resulting in a work environment that is untenable. So for example if you are the victim of sexual harassment at work and this creates a situation that makes going into work too much for you to handle this would be considered a hostile work environment. You can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

Many people call my office and tell me about what they think is a hostile work environment but under the legal standard it is not. There is no general harassment law in Illinois and if you just have a personality conflict with a boss or co-worker, you have no case. There has to be an underlying case of discrimination. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to discover the underlying discrimination.

December 24, 2011

How Do You Prove Your Sexual Harassment Case?

So you are at work minding your own business and another worker or supervisor starts to engage in sexual harassment. What are you going to do to stop it? If you come forward and complain to human resources and the other person deny's it will your complaint end there? These are all good questions and issues to consider when trying to decide what to do if you are the victim of sexual harassment at work. So what types of evidence may you utilize to prove you are being sexually harassed? Well there are the obvious ones like text messages, email and voice messages. The problem is many times the person doing the harassment doesn't leave this type of evidence. To make matters worse, sometimes the sexual harassment takes place one-on-one and there are no witnesses. So how can you prove you are being harassed? How can you prove the creation of a hostile work environment?

Well one technique is to send an email or text to the person doing the sexual harassment memorializing what was said and see what type of response you get. For example you can text, do you really want to go out with me for dinner and perhaps more? If the person responds yes, you have proof that he said that to you in person. If the person doesn't respond, you have circumstantial evidence that something is going on, because the person didn't deny the message. This is just one technique that can help you become successful if you go forward with your sexual harassment complaint. If you do go forward you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). By the way if you file with the IDHR they automatically cross-file with the EEOC.

December 19, 2011

M. Slavin and Sons Pays $900,000 To Settle Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit

M. Slavin & Sons, Ltd., pays $900,000 to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit the was filed on behalf of over 30 black employees. According to published accounts the company created a hostile work environment for the workers based on sexual harassment, national origin, racial discrimination and retaliation.

The company owners and managers harassed the employees making explicit sexual comments and using offensive racial terms such as “n----r” and “African b-----d.” Many of the men endured this treatment because they desperately needed the work.

“Thanks to Kevin Pierson’s EEOC charge and this lawsuit, employees at M. Slavin will now be able to work in an environment free from discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Sunu P. Chandy.
December 5, 2011

Hostile Work Environment Needs Underlying Discrimination

In Illinois the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") protects employees from discrimination based on a number of categories. My Chicago office gets many calls from people who think they have a claim based on the creation of a hostile work environment. However, in Illinois the hostile work environment only exists from a legal perspective if there is an underlying charge of discrimination. The discrimination may be sexual harassment or any other form of protected category under the Act.

It is unfortunate that there isn't a general harassment law in Illinois but there isn't. There is currently a bill that is working its' way through the legislature that would make the creation of a hostile work environment illegal and actionable. Now it is helpful to speak with an employment lawyer regarding your work related issues because perhaps you are being singled out based on your gender or religion and you just don't realize it. Just remember that unless there is an underlying basis for the creation of the hostile work environment, you don't have a case that can be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

December 3, 2011

Age Discrimination In The Recession

Unemployment ranges between eight and nine percent in Chicago. As the fight for jobs increases many people over the age of 40 find themselves under more scrutiny. In Illinois it is a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA") to discriminate against someone because of their age. Under the IHRA the age is 40. Another words, if you are 40 or over you can file a charge of age discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") if you believe you are being treated different than younger workers. Many times a review of all the employee files including education, experience and pay can be utilized to prove age discrimination.

Age discrimination in the workplace can also create a hostile work environment for all employees because of the message it sends. If an person is able to show substantial evidence with the IDHR, he can then file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for a trial in front of an administrative law judge. Remember that people over 40 are starting to near the end of their work career so any negative job action against them can really ruin their career.

December 1, 2011

Sexual Harassment Involving The CEO

What happens when the most powerful person in a company is engaging in sexual harassment? Who are you suppose to complain to? Lets face it, if the Chief Executive Officer ("CEO") is sexually harassing you, the options may be limited. If you complain to human resources, they are in a terrible position. They now face the task of confronting the person who can hire and fire. Are they going to put their own job and career on the line for you? You can see that when an important and powerful person engages in sexual harassment it creates a hostile work environment for all employees.

I would recommend in this situation to complain to the human resources representative in writing. Let the human resource person worry about it and handle it--after all that is what they get paid to do. Don't put your own career at risk and do nothing. If the CEO is harassing you he isn't going to just stop on his own. And don't forget he can always come up with some excuse to fire you and then what are you going to do? If you get fired and then complain it will seem like you are now complaining because you have been fired. Take the initiative and file first.

November 29, 2011

What Is A Constructive Discharge In Chicago?

What is a constructive discharge in Illinois? A constructive discharge occurs when an employee is put in a position because of discrimination that a reasonable person in the same position would quit. Under the law a constructive discharge is treated as a termination by the employer. If a person is subjected to a hostile work environment because of discriminatory behavior, the person can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Under the law the person would have 180 days from the last date of the discrimination to file such a complaint.

After a complaint works its' way through the system with the IDHR two things will happen. Either a finding of substantial evidence or lack thereof. There is actually a third option, the IDHR doesn't complete its' investigation within one-year and a right to file directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The IHRC is where the actual trial will take place and where remedies occur. It is very important to consult with an employment lawyer early in the process to maximize your chances of getting either a good settlement or judgment.

November 28, 2011

Sexual Harassment Case At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

The Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") is the place where a sexual harassment complaint will be heard after you file your complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and get a finding of substantial evidence. You also have the option of filing your case in the local circuit court. My Chicago office handles many sexual harassment cases at the IHRC and people are foolish to not hire an experienced attorney when proceeding at that venue.

The IHRC has its' own rules and procedures which many attorneys are not familiar with. If you have an attorney who is experienced with these, it puts you in much better shape of settling your case or winning your case. Remember that sexual harassment usually creates a hostile work environment for you and other employees and you may be still working even while your case goes to trial. Taking steps to maximize your chances of winning is the best course of action. The first such step is to hire a good, aggressive and experienced employment lawyer.

November 26, 2011

Sexual Harassment And Holiday Parties

Well it's getting close to the holiday party and my office will be getting a few calls, directly after the parties. You may wonder why I can be sure I will be getting calls after company holiday parties. The reason is simple, when you combine alcohol with poorly trained managers, and women you get a sexual harassment case. What happens is people are under the mistaken belief they can act poorly and do things outside of work that they wouldn't do in a normal work place. Managers will made crude comments or attempt to have sex with employees and generally make asses out of themselves.

Try to imagine the hostile work environment that gets created for the employee after the boss tries to have sex with her at the holiday office party. How is she suppose to go into work the next day and act like nothing happened? It is amazing how often this type of activity takes place and the lack of training companies provide to management prior to the parties. If you want to ensure a good holiday party make sure your management employees know that sexual harassment isn't something that belong at the party.

November 25, 2011

Who Pays Attorney Fees At The Illinois Human Rights Commission?

A big question my Chicago offices gets is when a case gets filed at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial who pays the attorney fees. As you can imagine, attorney fees can get very expensive and most people can't afford them. My office takes cases before the IHRC on contingency fee only for the client. However, that doesn't mean that the losing party is off the hook for attorney fees. My offices hourly rate is $250 per hour and I always ask for attorney fees from the Respondent in the case. Attorney fees can easily run $30,000-$60,000 in an average hostile work environment case by the time the case goes to trial and the judge issues a decision.

There are many reasons for such high fees. First, the case starts at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and that process takes over a year. Most cases especially those involving sexual harassment have email, text messages and other detailed information. Next, the parties usually try to settle and if not there is a good deal of discovery at the IHRC. Discovery is very expensive in both time to process the information and then at trial to prepare that information for the actual trial. The good news for Complainants is that most of the time plaintiffs don't have to pay for the attorney fees of Respondents even when they lose.

November 20, 2011

Garfield Medical Center Pays $530,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Garfield Medical Center pays $530,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of several of the female victims of the sexual harassment. The female workers were either retaliated against or compelled to quit after their complaints were ignored by hospital management. When an employee quits because of the creation of a hostile work environment it is known as a constructive discharge.

According to published accounts a male emergency room admitting representative engaged in sexual harassment of female employees by subjecting them to inappropriate touching and propositions for sex. But the sexual harassment didn't stop there, it also included graphic discussions of sexual activities, and obscene pictures. Many of the female victims had to quit because they couldn't take the harassment anymore. What is really remarkable is that the company took over two years to fire the employee who was doing the harassment. Just think of how many woman had to endure this type of behavior because the company wouldn't take immediate action.

“In order to be productive, employees deserve a workplace free from sexual comments, repeated propositions and inappropriate touching,” said EEOC attorney Anna Y. Park.
November 13, 2011

Trial At The Illinois Human Rights Commission Or?

Does it makes sense to file your sexual harassment case with the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC”) after you get a finding of substantial evidence from the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”)? Well there is no standard answer to that question. In general, a case filed with the IHRC will be less expensive to pursue and will go to trail faster than a case filed with the circuit court in your particular county. However after the administrative law judge hears the case at the IHRC, it can take years before a written decision is made. If you have a case go to trial in the circuit court the verdict is made that day or a day later for the most part. So what is the advantage of filing with the IHRC? Well, most cases settle prior to trial. Because the IHRC will hear the case quicker, it logically follows that the case will settle quicker once you file with the IHRC. So one big advantage of filing with the IHRC is you may get actual money in your pocket quicker.

On the down side of filing with the IHRC, an administrative law judge and not a jury will hear your case. Juries are known to award higher amounts and sometimes having that wildcard can increase settlement amounts. And in sexual harassment cases that involve a hostile work environment juries can really award large amounts. But remember there is no rule and this varies on a case-by-case basis. Another factor to consider are the facts of the case. Sometimes a case is better off being filed in an employee friendly venue like the IHRC rather than in the local circuit court—which can be very company friendly. Remember local judges for the most part are elected and companies contribute large amounts to these elections. Administrative judges are appointed and may not have that much influence from big business. So the question of which venue should I choose will depend on the facts of your case and your goals.

November 12, 2011

Text Messages In A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

In a sexual harassment case many times the person being harassed receives text messages that are sexual in nature. In many instances the person’s supervisor, or someone in authority is sending these messages. When the sexually suggestive text messages first start it puts the employee in a very awkward position. When they get the first text message they don’t know what to do. Should they immediately confront the harasser and jeopardize their job? Should they just text something back hoping the harasser will be satisfied with the response and let things go at that? There is no playbook to follow and it puts the employee in a very difficult position. A position they should not be in. This type of activity puts an employee in a hostile work environment and can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. And the real issue is the supervisor has no business putting an employee in this position. Additionally, they company should do a better job training management so they realize they can’ do this to employees.

Once a sexual harassment complaint is filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) the company will usually try to explain the inappropriate and sexual text messages as consensual. They do this because how else can they explain the boss sending sexual messages to an employee? It is too bad they take this approach and don’t instead admit some liability and try to resolve the case at this point. My Chicago office sees case after case of employers not owning up to the sexual harassment and instead either blaming the victim or trying to concoct some story about it being consensual. The good thing about Illinois law is that under the Illinois Human Rights Act a company has strict liability if the supervisor engages in sexual harassment. This means reporting this type of behavior to human resources isn’t required before liability attaches to the company. The bottom line for victims of sexual harassment is don’t be too concerned if you happen to have responded via text message to the person harassing you.

November 2, 2011

Sexual Harassment And Politics

The recent woes of Presidential candidate Herman Cain are a good example of how rampant sexual harassment is in Illinois and the country. Of course now that it is convenient for him he is doing what most do—blaming the victim. He claims the lawsuit was frivolous and the only reason the company he worked for paid the money was to put the matter behind them. But the reality is, you don’t give someone a year’s pay if there is nothing behind the charge. And in this case not just one woman came forward but a second one did as well. I realize two victims don’t fit into the 9-9-9 plan of Mr. Cain. This kind of action creates a hostile work environment for every employee.

In the second case there was apparently an after work party and people were having drinks and appetizers. This is a great place for sexual harassment to take place. First you have alcohol and people. Second you have people in a social setting with alcohol. I think that before companies allow their employees to gather for such events they should give extra training on sexual harassment to prevent this from happening or to put employees on notice of what behavior is appropriate. In the end it cost the company money and now negative publicity.

October 20, 2011

What Is A Constructive Discharge In Illinois?

A constructive discharge is treated in Illinois as a termination. Generally what happens is an employee is the victim of sexual harassment or another form of discrimination, complains to management about it and nothing is done. The situation at work gets so unbearable that any reasonable person would quit. The courts have held that a person does not have to continue working in a hostile work environment once management is aware of the situation and refused to remedy the situation. In Illinois I filed constructive discharge cases with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they are automatically cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission("EEOC").

There are very strict time limits for filing such complaints and it is very important to not miss the filing deadline or else your case will be lost forever. Many times management will say they are investigating the complaint and they will drag their feet and waiting until the 180 days is past. By doing this, the company will have prevented you from filing with the IDHR because the statute of limitations will be in affect. It is very important to speak with an employment lawyer so you can learn your rights and not let the company push you around.

October 19, 2011

Chicago Sees Increase in Sexual Harassment Cases

Chicago is seeing an increase in the number of sexual harassment cases being filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). My office in Chicago is mirroring this fact as well. There are many reasons for the increase in cases being filed. Many employers are feeling powerful because of the current job market. They believe they can get away with thing and conduct they normally wouldn't try to get away with. They also believe employee are too afraid of losing their jobs to complain if they are the victim of sexual harassment. They seem to be wrong on both counts. People are sticking up for their rights and they are not letting these companies push them around.

I believe that as long as people fight for their rights and don't let these companies push them around the workplace will become better for all employees. Every employee in Illinois has guaranteed rights which are not only granted by the Illinois Constitution but also by the Illinois Human Rights Act. Usually there are other forms of discrimination taking place along with the sexual harassment. The most common are retaliation and the creation of a hostile work environment.

October 18, 2011

Chicago Employers Creating Hostile Work Environments

Whow just when things looked like they couldn't get any worse for employees, the big bad companies and corporations are stepping up their discrimination and creating even more hostile work environments. Now in Illinois there is no such thing as general discrimination or bullying. But if the hostile work environment is created because of sexual harassment, sexual orientation discrimination or other forms of discrimination you will have a case. Even though the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") is laying off workers, a case can still be filed with them for discrimination.

It is very important to conduct an employment attorney early in the process to protect your rights. In illinois you only have 180 days from the date of the last harassment to file with the IDHR. The big companies have plenty of people working for them and making sure they don't have to pay money to you if you have been wronged. Make sure you don't let them drag out an internal investigation past the 180 days. The big companies are very sneaky and you must be vigilant in protecting your rights.

October 12, 2011

Chicago Hostile Work Environments At Work

In Chicago the number of hostile work environment complaints seems to be on the rise. The reason for the hostile work environments seems unclear but one reason may be the current state of the economy. There is no general hostile work environment in Illinois so the hostile environment must be based on a form of discrimination. The Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") investigates violations of the Illinois Human Rights Act which covers over 15 categories of discrimination. The most common form in Illinois seems to be sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

There must be a good understanding of your rights as an employee in Chicago. The rights you have cannot be taken away by the company and unless you understand the rights and take affirmative steps to protect them, they will be lost. There are strict time limits for filing a complaint with the IDHR so it is important to speak with an employment lawyer who is skilled in this field.

October 11, 2011

Sexual Harassment And Human Resources

There is a dirty little secret regarding sexual harassment investigations within corporations. Let's take the following example to illustrate what I mean. Suzy the secretary gets sexually harassed by Bob the boss. The sexual harassment includes comments about how sexy she looks, and about her body. It is obvious the boss wants to have sex with her. Suzy reports this conduct to human resources under the corporations sexual harassment policy. Now here is what Suzy doesn't know but should. In Illinois she has 180 days from the date of the last sexual harassing incident to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or 300 days with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Those are strict time limits also known as statutes of limitations. Miss those deadlines by even one day and Suzy's case is lost. No matter how much of a hostile work environment was created she will be unable to pursue her case once the 300 days has past.

You ask why that is important? The answer is simple, many times corporate human resource departments know about the strict time limits and use them to their advantage by dragging out investigations. The human resource department will say they have to interview witnesses, gather documents, meet with various people. They may claim people are out of the office or on vacation. All the while the clock is ticking. They may make an initial report and ask Suzy to comment on it or submit other information and before you know it the 300 days has past and Suzy is out of luck. This is why it is very important to get an employment lawyer involved early in the process. The preferred method for Suzy would be to file a complaint with the IDHR--and they will cross-file with the EEOC. The corporation can still conduct their investigation during this time, but Suzy will have protection and leverage.

October 7, 2011

Does Yelling Create A Hostile Work Environment In Illinois?

My Chicago offices gets many calls from people inquiring into whether they can file a discrimination complaint based on what they perceive as a hostile work environment. The facts are usually the same. The boss is always yelling and screaming at everyone including the person who contacted my office. The yelling may include profanity and humiliating words. Although this behavior should not take place in the workplace it does. The question is does this conduct rise to the level of discrimination in Illinois? The short answer is no. In the past year the Illinois legislature defeated a bill that would have created a general harassment or bullying law. Under that law this type of activity would have resulted in a discrimination complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”). But as I said that proposed law was defeated.

Now I said the short answer to the question was no but that can turn into a yes under certain circumstances. For example if the boss yells and screams at you and no other workers, perhaps you are being singled out because of your gender, race, national origin etc. Or if the boss only yells at females there could be a gender discrimination case. The point being there may be other facts that could turn general yelling and screaming into a valid discrimination case. Remember that in Illinois there is no general harassment law and therefore more directed type discrimination must take place before you can file a complaint with the IDHR.

October 4, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settles For $250,000--Cheaper Than Legal Bills

Former City Hall secretary Fulya Metin Capanelli will get $250,000 to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit with the city of Methuen. According to published accounts Capanelli was sexually harassed by Maurice Lariviere, the former city solicitor and Capanelli's boss. When the sexual harassment started Capanelli complained to police and detectives captured Lariviere on videotape kissing and making advances toward Capanelli in his City Hall office. In what is a common ploy once there is damning evidence of sexual harassment Lariviere said his relationship with Capanelli was consensual.

One issue with settling sexual harassment cases is the cost to the other side to defend the case. In this case the city spent $364,461 in legal fees. As you can see, it would have been much smarter to settle the case early and save all of the money in legal fees. It is always in the best interest of a company to settle a case quickly and quietly. In this case all of the drama with investigators and publicity may have created a hostile work environment for other employees.

October 3, 2011

Hostile Work Environments Created During Investigations

Many times in the workplace an employee will go to human resources and file a sexual harassment complaint. As part of the investigation, human resources will contact other employees and try to determine what is going on. But often human resources has an agenda. They don't want to find out what is really going on, they want to make the whole thing go away. Employees who cooperate with the investigation may be subjected to a hostile work environment by telling the truth. This happens when the employee suddenly finds herself being targeted by the company.

Any employee who cooperates in a truthful manner with management during an investigation is protected from retaliation or any negative job action. It is very important for employees to understand their rights in this regard. Remember the company is always looking out for itself, they aren't necessarily looking out for your best interests.

September 30, 2011

Subtle Evidence In Sexual Harassment Cases

Many times there isn't a smoking gun as far as evidence is concerned in a sexual harassment case. The supervisor who is harassing you may not leave an email or text message as evidence. Instead the sexual comments may be said in a private setting without witnesses. So how is one suppose to prove a sexual harassment case in such circumstances? The answer is through subtle evidence of the harassment. For example, if you are a secretary and the boss invites you to a "business" trip so he can sexually harass you that may be utilized as evidence. If you have no real reason to be on the trip, it infers another motive in the supervisors request to have you accompany him on the trip.

Perhaps you have phone records showing the supervisor is calling you after hours at home or late at night. Even though the phone records won't show what was said on the phone, they are a subtle indication that something is amiss. Why does the supervisor have to call you late at night? Is he calling other male workers that late? This type of activity by the supervisor can show sexual harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment. Don't give up hope regarding your case if you have been sexually harassed. A good attorney can find ways to help prove your case.

September 29, 2011

Smile Brands Pays $175,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Smile Brands of Texas, L.P., pays $175,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of Deanna Chaney and Jan Pawelek. According to published accounts both females were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment. The sexual harassment included unwanted sexual comments and sexual touching. The women told the dentist to stop this conduct but it fell on deaf ears. The women then went to management to complain about the sexual harassment but nothing was done to stop it.

Some of the more disturbing aspects of the sexual harassment included the dentist telling unsolicited sexual stories, touching the women's breasts and he even attempted to kiss them. This type of behavior is well over the top and I am glad that the EEOC held them accountable. The money the company paid to settle this case it could have put to more productive use like training people properly.

"This was an outrageous case of sexual harassment in which an educated dental professional was enabled to abuse his power and subject his female employees to ongoing, unwanted, sexually vulgar comments and touches," said EEOC Attorney Devika Seth.
September 28, 2011

Aqua Tri Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $462,000

Aqua Tri settles a sexual harassment lawsuit for $462,500. The lawsuit also alleged retaliation and constructive discharge. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of hispanic workers. According to published accounts, supervisors subjected at least eight Hispanic female employees to a sexually hostile work environment which included inappropriate touching, pressuring them for dates and sex. This kind of behavior is not acceptable and will cost a company a great deal of money each time.

The female workers reported the sexual harassment to management but nothing was done to stop it. Some of the females were even told if they had sex with the supervisors they could be promoted. Several employees were either laid off or discharged following an Aqua Tri internal investigation in 2009 due to their perceived support of the victims’ claims. It is illegal to take a negative job action against any employee who participates in a discrimination investigation.

“We commend Aqua Tri for implementing aggressive injunctive relief measures to ensure this will not happen again,” said EEOC attorney Anna Park.
September 25, 2011

Sexual Harassment Investigations

Here is a scenario that is all to familiar. An employee reports sexual harassment to management or to human resources and as a result starts to get treated in a hostile manner. What will generally happen is management will let the complaint leak out to the other employees and the employee who reported the sexual harassment will now start to experience a hostile work environment from the other employees. Of course in order to do a proper investigation it may be necessary to give details including the reporting employees name. But in many cases a discreet investigation can take place protecting the identity of the employee who is reporting the sexual harassment.

Another issue that comes up with people who report sexual harassment in the workplace is the person doing the harassing may be friends with other managers or employees. In this instance the other employees or managers start to treat the person reporting sexual harassment in a negative way because they view this as an attack on their friend. When this type of activity occurs it is very important to file a complaint with either the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I prefer to file with the IDHR because they cross-file with the EEOC so you can get two for one. Additionally, the IDHR is mandated by law to complete their investigation within one-year and the EEOC is not. So for my money, the IDHR is the way to go.

September 23, 2011

Text Messages and Sexual Harassment

A question that I get often is what should I do with my text messages that are sexual in nature? Many times a supervisor or other worker will start texting with an employee. Sometimes the text messages start innocent but then turn sexual in nature and end up forming the basis of a sexual harassment lawsuit. The text messages as evidence are very important and damning. They show the number called from and the number called and the content of the message speaks for itself. The sexual text messages also create a hostile work environment for you.

So the big question is how do you get the text message off the phone. There are a few easy ways. First you could forward the text as an email and then print it off. Depending on the model phone you could hook the phone up to your computer and download it. You could pull the storage chip out of the phone and insert into a computer and download the messages. You could also forward the message to another phone that has the capabilities listed above. Even text messages that have been deleted may be able to get retrieved using special software. The important thing is to save the text messages because they will become your best evidence in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

September 18, 2011

What Is A Constructive Discharge In Illinois?

My Chicago office gets many calls about what constitutes a constructive discharge. Lets first look at what may lead you to quit your job. Lets say you are the victim of sexual harassment at work and you complain to management. If management does not take action to stop the sexual harassment or if they claim their investigation does not confirm the sexual harassment you are left with two choices. First, keep putting up with the sexual harassment or to quit your job. Generally, the sexual harassment would have to be so bad that no reasonable person in your position would continue working.

Another words, the conditions at work are so bad that you have to quit and this is treated under the law as a firing. It is very important for you to make it clear to management that you are being sexually harassed, that you consider a hostile work environment to be in place and that you want it to stop because it is interfering with your ability to do your job. I recommend doing this in writing so you have proof that you put management on notice. Remember at the end of the day, management will usually try to protect the company and if you only complain verbally, you may have a hard time proving your case.

September 17, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits In Chicago

I often get asked about what to do if you are the victim of sexual harassment at work? There are several options that are available to you. First you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Second, you can file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Lastly, if you are in Chicago, you can file with the Chicago Department of Human Rights. I always file with the IDHR because they cross-file with the EEOC so you get a two-for-one. And the IDHR is mandated by law to complete an investigation within one year. It is always in the best interest of the employee to have the case settled sooner rather than later so the IDHR helps with the settlement process because the investigate the complaint quickly.

There are many things to keep in mind that will affect your case. First, don't talk about your case with anyone. Second, don't post things about your case online. Many times people post things on Facebook or Tweet about their case. This is not a good idea and something said online could be used against you in the case. If you are complaining that the sexual harassment created a hostile work environment and then you engage in similar activity online, it will hurt your case. The bottom line is to keep quiet and just talk about your case with your attorney.

September 12, 2011

Cake Shop Sued For Sexual Harassment

ABC Cake Shop & Bakery is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment. The sexual harassment took place at work and involved a large group of female workers including teenagers. According to published accounts one of the owners would make sexual comments and engaged in unwelcome touching which created a hostile work environment for the female workers.

Some of the women who could not tolerate the sexual harassment were forced to quit their jobs which is commonly referred to as a constructive discharge. I will be following this case and I believe the women will receive a nice settlement as a result of what took place. It is very tough on employees when the person doing the harassment is the owner. Who do you report that to? The answer is you file a complaint with the EEOC or other state agency and proceed that way. In Illinois you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR does a better job of quickly investigating complaints of discrimination.

"Employers of all sizes have an important responsibility to maintain a workplace that is free of sexual harassment.” said EEOC attorney Elizabeth Cadle
September 10, 2011

Grays Harbor Community Hospital Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

Grays Harbor Community Hospital pays $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of four pharmacy technicians. According to published accounts regarding the lawsuit a supervising pharmacist was sexually harassing the technicians.
The sexual harassment consisted of offensive sexual comments which included details of his own sex life. If that wasn't bad enough he even provide details of how he masturbated.

This guy sounds like a real creep. He would even grab the females and make them feel very uncomfortable. You can see how much money and the bad publicity it costs a company when they fail to properly supervise an employee. Not only the money but think of the impact this had on the females. I am glad the EEOC stuck with this case and made the company pay.

“Employers have a duty to promptly and effectively respond to complaints of sexual harassment. When employers fail to take such reports seriously, the EEOC will take action to make sure women are not treated this way in the workplace,” said EEOC attorney Michael Baldonado

Continue reading "Grays Harbor Community Hospital Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000" »

September 9, 2011

Arizona Logistics Pays $175,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Arizona Logistics, Inc. will pay $175,000 to five former employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the former employees by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC is one of the places you can file a sexual harassment lawsuit. The other place in Illinois is the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR").

According to published accounts former Regional Director Mark Berault sexually harassed the five former employees. What is even worse, Berault sexually assaulted several of the women. That is incredible that this was taking place during business hours. Berault also engaged in unwelcome touching and indecent exposure. Of course this also created a hostile work environment for every employee. Glad the company had to pay and hope it smartens up and institutes some good sexual harassment policies in the future.

“This was an outrageous case of sexual harassment involving a supervisor who preyed upon vulnerable female employees, subjecting them to some of the most extreme forms of sexual harassment,” said EEOC Attorney Mary J. O’Neill.
September 6, 2011

Hostile Work Environment Can't Be Based on General Harassment

I get many calls at my Chicago office about general harassment type questions. The boss yells at everyone or the boss is always slamming things around the office. In short, people call and say the boss is just an ass. The problem in Illinois is there is no general harassment law. People think that if the boss acts this way it is the basis of a hostile work environment. In Illinois it is not. In order to have a hostile work environment you need a basis of discrimination. For example, the boss is yelling at me because I am female--gender discrimination, or the boss is yelling at me because I am black--racial discrimination. If the boss is just a jerk, there is no case. Your only option at that point is to quit. The legislature tried to pass a law that would have covered this type of behavior but it failed.

What I suggest you do is evaluate whether or not there is some other reason why the boss is always yelling at you or throwing things. Is it because you are female? Are you the only person in your office that this is happening to ? So even though it may seem like he is just being a jerk, perhaps he is really discriminating against you based on a protected category. It is free to call my office and discuss the issue so why not ? You should work hard to protect your rights and not let the boss get away with this type of behavior.

Continue reading "Hostile Work Environment Can't Be Based on General Harassment" »

September 5, 2011

Sexual Harassment and College Professors

Well it's time for college students to head back to school. This could present problems for both students and the college. There are more cases of sexual harassment directed against Universities than most people think. The reason for this is that many college professors have sex with their students. You would think the colleges and universities would have strict policies against this type of behavior, but they only seem to give it lip service. There are many college professors that get caught having sex with students and they are still allowed to teach. It is amazing that this practice continues, but it does. When a college professor has sex with a student it could create a hostile work environment for all students if the students are involved with a work type program.

My Chicago office is constantly getting calls from students who had sex with their college professor. Many times the relationship is deemed consensual by the university administration but how can you have a truly consensual relationship with the teacher/student dynamic? I alway file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") instead of with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The reason for this is that the IDHR cross-files with the EEOC and the IDHR is mandated by law for complete an investigation within one-year. Also, the IDHR seems to do a better job at conducting a timely investigation.

September 2, 2011

Sexual Orientation and a Hostile Work Environment

There is no general harassment law in Illinois. This means if you are just being treated badly by the boss--too bad. However, if you are being treated in a discriminatory way that is a different story. So for example if the boss is treating you terrible and also calling you gay and making anti-homosexual comments that would form the basis for a sexual orientation discrimination claim. The claim could be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I prefer to file with the IDHR because the are mandated to investigate within one year and they are required to cross-file with the EEOC.

Along with the person being discriminated against, other employees may also be in a hostile work environment as a result of what is taking place. The reason for this is when conduct is taking place that is discriminatory it affects all employees. Also, if there is an investigation, other employees can get dragged into it and then have negative job actions taken against them for cooperating during the investigation. Even though we are at a point in time where the state of Illinois allows for civil unions between same sex couples, there is still a great deal of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Continue reading "Sexual Orientation and a Hostile Work Environment" »

August 30, 2011

Hostile Work Environment Can't Be Based On General Harassment In Illinois

In the State of Illinois there is no such thing as general harassment. The legislature tried unsuccessfully to pass a bullying in the workplace law but it was defeated. What that means is if your boss is just a general jerk and yells and screams there isn't much you can do other than quit. Unless the hostile work environment is created because of sexual harassment, age discrimination or other forms of recognized discrimination you can't file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). If the hostile work environment is being created based on a discriminatory category you can file directly with either the IDHR or EEOC--although I recommend hiring an employment lawyer on contingency to file on your behalf and to protect your rights.

My Chicago offices gets many calls from employee who are the victims of general harassment and unfortunately there isn't much I can do. However it is always a good idea to call my office or the office of an employment attorney to discuss because sometimes even though the boss is being a jerk and it seems like a general harassment case, he may only be yelling at you because you are the only female or only gay employee in which instance you may have a case.

August 29, 2011

Sexual Harassment Cases In Illinois And Text Messages

Are text messages a good form of proof in sexual harassment cases? Yes, they are very good forms of evidence. The text message will show the phone numbers of both people involved in the exchange as well as the content and date. In Illinois my office files cases of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). When filing I will attach copies of the text messages to show the actual sexual harassment that was taking place. Many times the person doing the harassment will deny that any sexual harassment took place so it is important attach copies of text messages so the company management or company attorney can see what has actually taken place.

My Chicago office is also seeing more hostile work environment cases where instant messages are being used to sexually harass someone. Again, it is very important to print out these messages and save them--saving them electronically is also good. The amount that is paid by a company to settle a sexual harassment or hostile work environment case will increase greatly if there is proof of the discrimination. Technology is working to the advantage of employees and it is important to protect your rights by saving incriminating evidence.

August 26, 2011

Briggs Equipment Inc. Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $112,000

Briggs Equipment, Inc. pays $112,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged that Bobby Wysong was subjected to racial discrimination when he was terminated from his position as a technician because of his race, black. A company cannot take an adverse action against an employee based on his race or other protected category. In Illinois this type of activity could result in a complaint being filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") as well as the EEOC.

According to published accounts Briggs subjected Wysong to a hostile work environment by employees calling Briggs various derogatory names. The main culprit was management employee Mario Rodriguez who referred to Wysong as a “n----r,” “slave” and “dark horse” in conjunction with expressly stating he wanted Wysong fired. The amazing thing was Rodriguez admitted to the comments and other employees also came forward to corroborate the story.

EEOC attorney Eduardo Juarez said “Not only have we obtained significant financial relief for Bobby Wysong, the employment practices that Briggs uses will be greatly improved. No one should have to put up with racial abuse in their place of work – or, even worse, losing his livelihood because of racism.”

Continue reading "Briggs Equipment Inc. Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $112,000" »

August 22, 2011

Hostile Work Environments Need Basis Of Discrimination

In Illinois the basis for the hostile work environment needs to be some form of discrimination. Usuallly a claim of sexual harassment will form the basis of the hostile work environment. There is no such thing as general harassment in Illinois so it isn't enough if the boss is just a jerk and yells at you. The pool treatment needs to be based on some form of protected category like gender, race, age, national origin, etc. I know this doesn't sound fair or right but in Illinois it is the law. The legislature tried to pass a general harassment type law called the bullying law but it did not pass earlier in the year--so write your legislator if you want it passed.

Many times even though it may seem like the boss is just a jerk, he may be picking on you because he didn't like females or minorities. It is very important to speak with an employment attorney early on so that you can learn your rights and how best to proceed. In Chicago there are many options for someone who is the victim of discrimination. I believe the best option is to make a plan and to try and obtain as much evidence as possible before doing anything. Remember that the call to my office is free and it is better to get an opinion than to go it alone. The company has people working on their behalf so should you.

August 21, 2011

Sexual Harassment May Be Subtle

Many times in sexual harassment cases the evidence may be subtle in nature. There may not be a smoking gun. It is very important to try and remember the names of people who may have been witnesses to what is going on. If possible try to never be alone with the person harassing you. If the person wants to talk on the phone, try and have someone in the room with you and put the harassor on speaker. Another thing you may do is to send the harassor an email confirming what they said to you in person and see how they respond. This can confirm the hostile work environment and help you in the future.

I believe it is very important to think ahead and try to get as much evidence as possible before going forward with a sexual harassment claim. Remember once you go to human resources the harassor will be extra careful and if you can't back up your claim the company may take action against you for filing a false claim. It is very important to get the advice of an employment lawyer before doing anything. Remember the company is going to have people on their payroll protecting them, you should have somone too.

August 17, 2011

New York University Pays $210,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

New York University ("NYU") pays $210,000 to settle a national origin discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit alleged that NYU violated federal law by subjecting an African-born employee from Ghana to a hostile work environment that included degrading verbal harassment. When an employee is subjected to hostile comments it not only affects that employee but it can have a negative impact on all employees.

Published accounts reveal that the supervisor of the mailroom regularly addressed the employee with slurs such as “monkey” and “gorilla” and insults such as “go back to your cage” and “do you want a banana?” It is unbelievable that this type of conduct was taking place at an institution of higher learning. It took NYU a very long time to investigate the employee’s many complaints and then took virtually no corrective action. To make matters worse, NYU was even aware that the supervisor made up stories to get the man in trouble and to discipline him. I am glad the man hung in there and made the University pay.

“This suit shows that ugly harassment and retaliation can happen anywhere, even at a prestigious university,” said EEOC Gillian L. Thomas
August 16, 2011

Marital Status Inquiry A Form Of Discrimination

In Illinois it is a violation of the law for an employer to inquire as to your marital status. Many people will say that this sounds odd and what is the big deal? Well the problem with asking about the marital status is two fold. First, an employer may decide that a single person may be less stable or may have a harder time juggling home and kids with work. Second, and employer doesn't have a need to know your personal business. Whether you are married or not doesn't have anything to do with your job.

If you are being asked these types of questions or if you are not being promoted because you are a single mother you can contact my office and we can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Any claim filed with the IDHR will be cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") but the IDHR will take the lead in investigation. Any form of discrimination also creates a hostile work environment for workers and should be addressed. Other forms of discrimination get more headlines and are more familiar to people but marital status discrimination is actionable in Illinois.

August 15, 2011

Are Rude Comments A Hostile Work Environment?

My Chicago offices gets many calls regarding a hostile work environment. Many callers ask if there is a hostile work environment based on the boss yelling at them or otherwise treating them poorly. Unfortunately in Illinois there is no general harassment law. Another words, in order to have a hostile work environment in Illinois there must be an underlying basis of discrimination. So for example if you are the subject of sexual harassment then there could be a creation of a hostile work environment.

However if the boss is just a jerk and yells and screams there isn't much you can do about it. Unless the boss is treating you different because of your gender or race or other protected class you just have to take it. Perhaps in the future the legislature will pass a general harassment law but until they do, there isn't one. However, sometimes after talking to employees I can determine that the boss is picking on the person and perhaps the person is the only female at work so perhaps it is really a gender discrimination case. The bottom line is to speak with an employment attorney.

August 14, 2011

Sexual Harassment Evidence

Companies are getting very clever and in this economy they are getting rid of any employee who rocks the boat. What will typically happen is the employee is getting sexually harassed and speaks with management or human resources. The company does not want to rock the boat and really just wants to sweep the whole matter under the rug so they try and minimize what took place. Unless the employee is educated about the facts of a sexual harassment case, chances are they can be tricked by management. It is very important to learn your rights regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. Remember that the company has lawyers and people in place protecting their rights--so should you. Remember sexual harassment could create a hostile work environment for all employees.

There are usually three types of evidence in a sexual harassment case. First there are other employees who would be first hand witnesses. Second would be written evidence such as email. And lastly, voice mails. Most harassers are not stupid enough to say things in front of other employees or leave damning voice messages so email my be your best source of evidence. Even if the harasser does not email you but instead says stuff to you one-on-one you can still capture what was said via email. I suggest memorializing what the harasser said to you in person by resending it to him via email and getting him to respond. The key is to do it in such a way that he responds.

August 13, 2011

Woodman's Settles ADA Lawsuit For $35,000

Woodman’s Food Market’s, Inc. filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. In its lawsuit, the EEOC contended that Woodman’s unlawfully fired employee because of her back condition.
Woodman’s store settled an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $35,000. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after Woodman's terminated Kimberly McMillan-Goodwin, a long-term Woodman’s employee who worked as a clerk at its gas station. The reason for her termination was because she had a back condition that kept her from lifting more than ten pounds. Under the law a company must make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or be in violation of the ADA.

According to details in the lawsuit McMillan-Goodwin had successfully worked in that position with the lifting restriction for many years. The problem was Woodman’s placed McMillan-Goodwin on medical leave and then terminated her. This type of blatant activity will always result in the company paying money for discrimination. I am happy to report that the company will undergo training and the EEOC will make sure the company puts better policies in place in the future. This type of behavior also creates a hostile work environment for all employees because they can see the harmful treatment of a fellow employee.

“This case might never have arisen if Woodman’s had had clear policies and training to guide its management and human resources employees on the requirements of the ADA,” said EEOC Attorney John Hendrickson.
August 12, 2011

Williams Country Sausage Pays $60,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Williams Country Sausage ("WCS") pay $60,000 to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accoutns WCS was paying an African-American maintenance worker less than white counterparts and subjecting him to a hostile work environment. The worker had to work just as hard as the other employees for a lower wage--that isn't right.

WCS gave raises and paid higher salaries to all maintenance department employees except the department’s lone African-American employee and allowed a supervisor to regularly use racially offensive language toward the employee because of racial animus. This type of activity is not right and I am glad the employee stood up and did not take it. WCS should be embarassed by the actions that took place and hopefully this won't happen in the future.

“Sadly, race discrimination continues to exist in the workplace where workers are paid less and forced to endure a racially hostile work environment,” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams.
August 1, 2011

Hostile Work Environments In Illinois

In Illinois a hostile work environment exists for all employees if the atmosphere is so negatively charged that the employee cannot perform his or her work properly because another employee has been subjected tot sexual harassment or another form of discrimination. Many times employees get caught up in a sexual harassment investigation and as a result of the investigation, something negative happens to them. For example, after truthfully telling their version of events, the employee is then targeted by a manager or perhaps fired. This would be a form of retaliation and in Illinois it is a form of discrimination.

I suggest that all employees contact an employment law attorney if they are involved in a sexual harassment investigation and believe they are being targeted by human resources or management. Remember you have a short time period from the date of the harassment or discrimination to file a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). My office handles claims at both locations and I offer a free consultation. Make sure you protect your rights.

July 31, 2011

Sexual Harassment Cases Create Hostile Work Environment

When a person at work is subjected to sexual harassment, it creates a hostile work environment for all employees. I know you are wondering why all employees would be affected by this. Consider the message this sends to other employees. First, you can be treated this way and management does not care enough to intervene. Second, you could be the next victim. And lastly, you may be not getting the promotion you deserve or you may be getting treated different because of the sexual harassment of another person.

A hostile work environment is very hard on all employees and reduces productivity among other things. I think one of the most important things a company can do is to ensure discriminatory conduct is not taking place at work and to make sure a hostile work environment does not exist. Training of all employees is a must and especially the training of supervisors and management. My chicago office continues to see an increase in the number of cases involving both sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

July 26, 2011

Sexual Harassment Investigations

Once an employee makes a complaint to human resources or management about sexual harassment, the company usually engages in some sort of investigation. It is very important to speak with an attorney prior to the investigation because the company will have its' rights protected. And the company will have a strategy in place for conducting the investigation. Remember the company is more focused on protecting its' assets--read that as its' money. They don't want to pay you anything or as little as possible. It is important to keep this in mind as you move forward.

So what can you expect from a sexual harassment investigation? The company will want statements from you first. Once you give the statement, the company will want the names of witnesses and any other evidence you have (i.e. emails, text messages, phone voice mails etc.). Once the company has that information it will usually bring in the harasser for his side of the story. Depending on how the company handles the investigation, the company could create a hostile work environment for you based on the investigation.

July 23, 2011

Request Your Personnel File When Filing A Sexual Harassment Complaint

My Chicago office gets this question all the time. Do I have a right to request my personnel file from human resources? The answer is yes. It is very important to request the file as soon as possible because you don't want anything to happen to job evaluations or to have your employer suddenly put negative things in your file. When people ask me to file a sexual harassment complaint on their behalf I always ask them to request the personnel file. Many times the employee file can help show there was a hostile work environment taking place at work.

I recommend you file the personnel file in writing and by email is possible. Usually if you make the request by email you will get a response and you can save that as prove that you made the request. Once you get the file, check it very carefully to ensure it is accurate and if it is not, put the discrepancy in writing. Again, it is very important to do this as soon as possible. In many cases, the personnel file can make or break your claim.

July 14, 2011

Bell Company Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $230,000

The Bell Company pays $230,000 to settle a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Elaine Cusato. According to published accounts the Bell Company subjected Cusato to a hostile work environment while she was employed as a skilled equipment operator. The EEOC said that Cusato was subjected to daily criticism by her supervisor, the plumbing crew foreman, with a vehemence, aggression and profanity that was not directed at male workers which would be the basis for her gender discrimination lawsuit.

When mechanical foreman Timothy Shultz refused to fire Cusato solely because she was considered a “troublemaker” for complaining about the gender discrimination, both were fired as retaliation. This type of activity is not acceptable and will result in a lawsuit every time. I am glad Mr. Shultz stood up and refused to follow the company line. The company should change the way it does business and the way it treats employees.

“Employers have a responsibility to maintain an environment free of gender-based harassment and retaliation, which are clearly and simply illegal,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
July 9, 2011

Sexual Harassment, Retaliation and Human Resources

Corporations are losing their collective minds these days. Not only are claims of sexual harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment on the rise but when the employee reports the sexual harassment to human resources they are being terminated at an alarming rate. This is commonly referred to as retaliation. As mentioned in previous posts, the purpose of human resouces for many companies is to run interference for and eliminate troublemakers. Who does human resources belieave to be the troublemakers ? People who complain about sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination.

I know this sounds counter intuitive but the facts seem to bare this out. It is very important to do several things before going to human resources. First gather and save any evidence of the sexual harssment you may have. This will include emails, text messages, voice messages and any witnesses. Next notify human resources in writing and include copies of your evidence--so you can prove that you complained to human resources and gave them the evidence you had. This will prevent them for denying that you complained about sexual harassment at a later date. Remember in the war that is being waged against employees, human resources isn't your friend.

July 4, 2011

What Is A Hostile Work Environment?

First, happy 4th of July. Well a hostile work environment in Illinois can consist of a few things. There has to be an underlying type of discrimination before you can have a hostile work environment. For example, if you are being subjected to sexual harassment by your boss, he is also creating a hostile work environment for you and also for your co-workers. That is right your co-workers could also make a claim for discrimination based on you being sexually harassed.

My chicago office hears many types of discrimination cases and I often see the creation of a hostile work environment as a result of sexual harassment. The employee rejects the bosses advances and is then treated coldly. Maybe the persons hours are cut, projects and responsibilities taken away or the promotion is not given. It is very important to speak with an attorney to find out all of your rights and to protect yourself.

July 2, 2011

Sexual Harassment and Text Messages

There are many ways that a person can prove they are being preyed upon in the workplace. The burden of proof in a sexual harassment case is on the complainant and there usually has to be evidence to support the claim. One of the best forms of evidence is of course witnesses. However, in many cases no one is willing to come forward or the harassment is done one-on-one. Another powerful piece of evidence is the text message. Texting is very common these days and even in the workplace. If you are the victim of sexual harassment and your boss or co-workers sends you a text message that is inappropriate, save it.

If you have deleted your text message all is not lost. There is software available that allows you to retrieve the deleted text messages. There are time limits and data limits involved and you should consult my office to determine the best course of action. I recommend you get an attorney involved early in a sexual harassment or hostile work environment situation.

July 1, 2011

A Dollar General Pays $50,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Dolgencorp, LLC, doing business as Dollar General pays $50,000 to three former female employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the three workers after the company would not help them. According to published accounts Amanda Strickland, Maria Strickland and Tina Baxley were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment while employed at Dollar General.

The women were sexually harassed by a male Dollar General store manager which means there is strict liability to the company. The alleged sexual harassment included offensive sexual comments, requests for sex and unwelcome touching of the women’s breasts and buttocks. As is typical in these types of cases, management became aware of the activity and did nothing to stop it. You can see how much money it cost the company when this takes place.

“We are pleased that this settlement provides training to managers and supervisors about Title VII’s requirements against discrimination and harassment,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
June 24, 2011

Finish Line Settles ADA Lawsuit For $38,000

Finish Line, Inc. settled an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $38,000. The ADA lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Emma Armon. According to published accounts Armon had a right shoulder injury and wanted a transfer to an available customer service representative position as a reasonable accommodation to her disability. This would seem to be a very reasonable accommodation and under the law should have been granted especially since Armon was qualified for the open position.

However, Armon was not given the position and instead no accommodation was made for her which violated the ADA which requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities as long as this poses no undue hardship. As a result, the company had to pay money and now has a record of discrimination. This is such a waste, I will never understand why companies just don't do the right thing and follow the law. This type of activity also creates a hostile work environment for all employees because the other employees can see this type of discrimination and it sets a negative tone for the workplace.

“As the statute makes clear, failure to provide a reasonable accomodation for disabilities is in violation of federal law,” said EEOC attorney Laurie Young
June 23, 2011

Sexual Harassment Evidence

I get many calls to my Chicago office about what constitutes evidence of sexual harassment. There are many types of evidence. Direct testimony, where a person testifies about what he or she heard. There are email, text messages, and voice messages (it is illegal in Illinois to record someone without their permission, but if a person chooses to leave a voice message they are consenting). Sometimes the person doing the sexual harassment will give gifts, send cards or letters via the post office and may call the person during non-work hours. I can get the telephone log to show the calls were made and there usually isn't a business reason to call someone at home late at night or after work. This would constitute a hostile work environment.

If your boss or the person committing the sexual harassment only does it one on one, a good technique to utilize is to send the person an email, memorializing what he said to you and see if he responds. So if he said he would like to take you out and do xyz to you, send him an email and say something like you caught me off guard in the hall today, do you really want to go out with me and do xyz? You are not entrapping him but rather just memorializing what he said and seeing what his response is. At the end of the day if you file a complaint of sexual harassment, the burden is on you to prove your case so it is very helpful if you have some evidence.

June 21, 2011

LensCrafters Pays $192,500 To Settle A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

LensCrafters pays $192,500 to settle a female-on-male sexual harassment lawsuit. This type of lawsuit is unusual but becoming more common as more females are in leadership positions in companies. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the male employee. According to published accounts LensCrafters subjected a male employee to a sexually hostile work environment while he was at work.

The male lab technician was subjected to sexual harassment and then he complained to management about it and they did nothing to stop the harassment. The sexual harassment included the female employee touching the male and making inappropriate comments about his appearance. The company did not take the complaints seriously because the person was a man. This type of behavior by the company is no acceptable and ended up costing them a good deal of money.

“This is a favorable resolution for everyone,” said EEOC attorney Nedra Campbell. “Sexual harassment is always unjust and illegal, regardless of the gender of the perpetrator or the victim.”
June 12, 2011

What Is A Hostile Work Environment?

My office in Chicago gets this question often-what is a hostile work environment in Illinois? There are two types of hostile work environments. First, there is what is called a quid pro quo which is Latin and means this for that. In essence, if the boss says have sex with me and I will let you keep your job. This type of hostile work environment happens in sexual harassment cases. The second type is a culmination of acts the violate one of the categories of discrimination. For example people at work keep looking at porn and you keep seeing it on the computer screens. Or you are the subject of sexual commenets at work. These activities would create a hostile work environment.

Right now in Illinois there is no general harassment law or bullying law. Which means that the hostile work environment can only be claimed if it is based on acts that violate the Illinois Human Rights Act or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Bascially, there has to be some category of discrimination that is violated--like sexual harassment or gender discrimination. If you are unsure of whether or not you have a legitimate case, you should contact my office to get an opinion. It is very important to do so early because there are strict time limits for filing claims and if you miss them, your case is lost.

June 7, 2011

True North Inc. Pays $103,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

True North Inc. which operates a shelter for women who have been victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse pays $103,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two employees who were punished by True North, Inc. for reporting sexual harassment by the shelter’s executive director. The two women, Gause and Lawson claim Executive Director Leigh Voltmer touched staff members inappropriately on several occasions.

Less than two weeks after making the complaint, Gause was terminated and Lawson was demoted and her salary was cut. Both women had received positive feedback regarding their performance during their tenure as employees, but were terminated without warning, allegedly for poor performance. Following the board’s actions, other employees came forward and complained about a hostile work environment created by Voltmer.

“Nancy Gause and Tracie Lawson came forward at great personal risk to report complaints they had received from the shelter’s staff. Comprehensive Human Services is an organization that purports to shield women from abuse. These women should have been supported in reporting sexual harassment, not punished for doing the right thing." said EEOC attorney Barbara Seely.
June 6, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Often Settled

There is a myth out there that most sexual harassment cases go to trial and there is a large verdict. One reason for this myth is the fact that most big cases get publicity and are reported in the various medias. Cases that settle for millions often make the news and give people a false sense of the true value of most sexual harassment cases. The average case does not settle for big money but settling the case is often good for a number of reasons. First, it gives closure to the victim and helps the person get on with her life. Second, it gives a guarantee of some money and lasty it can be taken as a victory-the fact that the other side paid some money. Most sexual harassment cases also involve retaliation and the creation of a hostile work environment.

The danger in taking a sexual harassment or other type of case to trial is that by the time the case goes to trial, the company could be out of business or bankrupt. The reason it takes so long is that if you file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") they cross file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The IDHR has up to one-year to complete its' investigation and that only gives you the right to file directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") if the IDHR finds substanial evidence. It will take another year with the IHRC before the actual trial and a decision by the judge after trial can take another two-years. If the EEOC investigates instead of the IDHR, it can take even longer. So if you can setttle.

June 5, 2011

Hostile Work Environments On The Rise

The number of cases involving the creation of a hostile work environment in Illinois seems to be on the rise. My Chicago office is reporting an increase in the number of hostile work environment cases based on sexual harassment. If you are the victim of such a case my office will file a complaint on your behalf with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and that complaint will be automatically cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). There are many reasons for the increase but the biggest is probably the lack of respect employers seems to convey to their employees.

The economy has been down for so long that employers believe they can do whatever they want to employees and nothing will happen. The employers believe they can easily replace the employee and therefore they falsely believe they are untouchable. I am here to tell you they are not. If you believe you are the victim of a hostile work environment based on sexual harassment or another form of discrimination please contact either of my offices. I hold many companies responsible for their actions and I can help you.

May 26, 2011

Chrysler Group Pays $60,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Chrysler Group, LLC pays $60,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Chrysler’s second-shift supervisor at the Milwaukee facility removed one of the women from the coveted position of driving a power sweeper and assigned her to gather parts in the back order release area. A male with less seniority was placed in the position which would go against normal policy. The female questioned why this was taking place as it seemed to be a form of gender discrimination. The manager called the female a troublemaker and threatened to fire her--which is retaliation.

Retaliation for opposing gender discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The female worker stuck up for her rights and would not let the company push her around. You can tell by the settlement amount that the company realized it made a mistake and wanted to put this matter behind it. This type of activity also creates a hostile work environment for all workers and can hinder production. Hopefully better processes and training will be in place for the future and employees can have a discrimination free work place.

said EEOC attorney John Hendrickson “Any adverse job action that might deter an employee from pursuing his or her rights is unlawful. Title VII protects employees who oppose discrimination even when their complaints do not take the form of an EEOC charge or written grievance."
May 24, 2011

ERA Helicopters Sued For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Alanna Taylor Berthelot who is a former employee of ERA Helicopters alleged she was fired after reporting that male co-workers subjected her to sexual harsasment and a hostile work environment. The allegations include sexually suggestive comments and inappropriate touching. Just as an aside, there is no appropriate touching in the workplace. As if that weren't bad enough Berthelot reported the behavior to human resources but was told to "suck it up and move on." And then the company fired her which is considered retaliation.

As is typical in most cases like this Berthelot is seeking damages for emotional distress, front pay, back pay, loss of benefits, attorney's fees and court costs. This type of activity at work is troubling if proven and shows what human resources is all about for most companies--a department that cares about the company not the employee.

May 20, 2011

Anthem College Pays $260,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

High-Tech Institute, Inc., doing business as Anthem College Online, pays $260,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged Anthem College subjected female employees to repeated sexual harassment by supervisors. According to published accounts three male supervisors sexually harassed six female admissions representatives. The sexual harassment included touching and unannounced visits to the homes of the females.

According to the lawsuit Anthem College knew or should have known about and tolerated this sexually hostile work environment caused by its supervisors. One of the men that was doing the sexual harssment would socialize with upper management and the females were hesitant to come forward at first for that reason. At the end of the day, the College did not do anything to stop the sexual harassment and for that reason the settlement amount was large.

“Employees who have an official or strong duty to communicate to management are considered part of management,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill
May 16, 2011

Dillard's Pays $50,000 To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Dillard’s, Inc. pays $50,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of 61 year old manager Virginia Keene. According to published reports about the lawsuit, Keene was fired from her position as an area sales manager and replaced with a 24-year-old employee who only had four months of experience as an area sales manager. This is unusual and would indicate that age is playing a factor in the employment decision. Keene successfully worked as an area sales manager for over four years and right before she was fired had ranked second out of six area sales managers.

To make matters worse for the company Keene received positive reviews in her two most recent performance appraisals and had twice been recommended for promotion. When you hear this kind of evidence it makes it obvious that the company was engaging in age discrimination. Throughout the course of her employment with Dillard’s, Keene’s managers made repeated references to her age, telling her she was too old for a sales job and that it might be time for her to let the younger managers take over. I am glad Keene hung in there and made the company pay her for the discrimination. This type of activity also creates a hostile work environment for all employees.

“Older workers have experience and skills that are too often overlooked,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
May 7, 2011

Western Washington University Pays $135,000 To Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Western Washington University pays $135,000 to Shannon O'Dwyer to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. O'Dwyer was a dispatcher in its police department who alleged she was fired after complaining about co-workers making racist and sexist remarks. Fired for complaining about discrimination is known as retaliation. This type of behavior is uncalled for and will cost a University money every time it happens. I am glad Shannon stuck in there and did not put up with it.

The hostile work environment type remarks included men saying that Western was only hiring minorities to fill quotas, claiming a woman only kept her job because she performed sexual favors, and that an African-American co-worker was only promoted because he's black. Western Washington University would do well to train its' employees to act better and to understand how comments like these can affect other employees.

According to the University O'Dwyer was fired during her probationary period and that it did not violate state law. However, I think the settlement amount speaks to what really took place. That is a great deal of money for a justifiable firing. I am seeing an increase in the number of University related claims of discrimination and retaliation. My Chicago office is especially busy with these types of claims.


May 5, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With Marina Materowski Settles For $305,000

Hudson County will pay $305,000 to Marina Materowski to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by Materowski, against the county and two correctional officers. According to published accounts Materowski alleged her two male colleagues made repeated derogatory comments, including calling her a "damn hussy" and "ho."

Additionally, Materowski claims that one of the men grabbed her off an office chair, pulled her onto the floor and physically restrained her by straddling her and grabbing her wrists. The other employee just sat and didn't intervene and try to stop what was taking place. This type of behavior in the workplace is no acceptable. This type of activity can also create a hostile work environment. Regardless of what paid mouthpieces say, the large settlement amount speaks for itself.

"The settlement should not be interpreted as an admission of guilt", county spokesman Jim Kennelly said.

May 4, 2011

Retaliation Lawsuit With Eclipse Advantage Settles For $60,000

Eclipse Advantage, Inc. pays $60,000 to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Rodney Williams. According to published accounts, African-American employee Williams endured racial discrimination and when he reported it, the company engaged in retaliation. Williams began working in a supervisory position with the company and shortly thereafter was subjected to racial epithets from his superiors.

In a remarkable event, on his first day, Williams was asked if he was a “black man or a n----r.” The lawsuit alleged management frequently used racial slurs, most notably the N-word in the workplace. And Williams was demoted from supervisor to team lead and then discharged from his position as a team lead after complaining about a hostile work environment. This type of behavior is unacceptable and as you can see it will cost the company money and bad publicity every time.

“ The settlement not only provides monetary compensation for the discrimination victim, it also provides significant injunctive relief to prevent and eliminate further harassment and retaliation.” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence
May 1, 2011

Warehouse Company DB Schenker Sued For Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment

Angela McDonald and nine other warehouse workers filed a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against DB Schenker alleging sexual harassment, the creatiion of a hostile work environment and racial discrimination. The problems include co-workers flying Confederate flags, KKK scrawled in the bathrooms and swastikas drawn on the coffee machine and walls. McDonald complained to management but nothing was done to take down the offensive material or to put a stop to it.

The warehouse is located in Joliet Illinois and there is an increase in Illinois in the number of discrimination claims filed with the EEOC and the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The sexual harassment included one woman being chased around the warehouse by a male co-worker who was trying to have sex with her. Not only was the male not disciplined but he was promoted into another job. This is the type of behavior by management that makes people file charges of discrimination. This blog will follow the lawsuit and report as information becomes available.

“When I’m leaving at one in the morning, there is no security and I know there are people who are hateful and prejudiced in the building,” McDonald said. “I’m afraid of someone hurting me.”

Continue reading "Warehouse Company DB Schenker Sued For Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment" »

April 28, 2011

Sexual Harassment and Reporting It To Human Resources

My chicago office gets calls all the time regarding sexual harassment and what to do about it. Many times the person calling wants to know if they should report it to the Human Resources Manager or tell someone else. Before we go any further you should realize that in most instances, Human Resources ("HR") is there to help the company not you. They may act like they are concerned but at the end of the day, they will do what is in the best interest of the company. In many cases, sexual harassment creates a hostile work environment for all employees and it should be in the best interest of the company to stop it, but sadly many companies choose to shoot the messenger.

I suggest that before going to HR you get as much evidence as possible together and keep it in a safe place (i.e. not at work). If you think a co-worker witnessed some of the sexual harassment send the co-worker an email and ask about it in a non-intimidating fashion. By getting a response, you are locking the co-worker into a position. If the co-worker later feels threatened by HR and changes his story, you have the saved email to show a different side of the events. I believe it is important to speak with an attorney and have a plan in place before speaking with HR. The company has people looking out for its best interest, so should you.

April 25, 2011

Morgan & Morgan Law Firm Sued For Sexual Harassment

Michelle Burman a former employee of the Morgan & Morgan law firm filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court against the firm. Burman filed her claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and then received a right to sue letter. Burman claims she was exposed to sexual comments, sexual jokes, and sexual stories while working for the firm as a client service intake specialist. Burman claims her supervisor was the source of the sexual harassment. Burman also claims her supervisor was often intoxicated and that female employees had to provide sexual favors in order to get ahead at the firm.

Burman alleges when she rebuffed her supervisor's advances he became more and more hostile toward her and he treated her differently from co-workers. If her claims turned out to be true, Burman would have been subjected to a hostile work environment. Burman also alleges that the firm's Human Resources department did not properly investigate claims. The firm is disputing both her claim and that fact that the Human Resources department did not investigate. One of the founders Mr. Morgan said there was a large file regarding Burman and her complaint.

"That's a lie," said Morgan. "The HR department conducted a full investigation. There's a large file."
April 24, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settles For $79,000

Prestige Home Centers, Inc. pays $79,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of several man. According to published accounts male employees were subjected to sexual harassment from a male supervisor. The sexual harassment included touching, requests for sexual favors and sexual comments.

When the men complained about the sexual harassment the supervisor retaliated. This type of behavior also creates a hostile work environment for all the workers and could lead to additional complaints. In this case, the men would not take the abuse from the supervisor any longer and filed directly with the EEOC. I am glad to see the case resolved in a favorable manner.

“Employees should not be subjected to this type of harassing behavior in the modern workplace,” “Employers must act swiftly to correct hostile work environments and prevent employee exposure to such outrageous conduct and retaliation.”said EEOC Attorney Robert Weisberg.
April 23, 2011

Ralph Jones Sheet Metal Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $160,000

Ralph Jones Sheet Metal, Inc. pays $160,000 to former African-American employees to settle a racial harassment lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on their behalf. According to published accounts a white supervisor and other employees subjected African-American employees to racially offensive comments. The comments included the use of the N word and other such slurs.

This type of activity creates a hostile work environment for all employees. I am glad these employees decided to contact the EEOC and not let this supervisor get away with what he was doing. I know most people don't think this type of activity still takes place but it does. As you can see by the amount the company had to pay to settle this lawsuit, having a mouthy employee can cost a good deal of money.

“Employees should not have to endure a racially hostile work environment as it is a violation of federal law.” said EEOC attorney Faye Williams
April 20, 2011

Deputy Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $900,000

Deputy Robert Lyznick settled his sexual harassment lawsuit with the county that employed him for $900,000. According to published accounts Lyznick claims his supervisor asked him to come into the bathroom for a rectal probe. Additionally Lyznick said his supervisor wanted to get him drunk so Lyznick would perform oral sex on him. In an effort to stop the sexual harassment Lyznick even posted sexual harassment awareness posters around the office, but the harassment continued.

The Supervisor involved was Sgt. Charles Dery and he said some pretty troubling statements, if true. For his part Dery denied he sexually harassed anyone, however he ended up resigning after an internal investigation and the county paid almost a million dollars to settle this case so the facts make a pretty strong statement. This type of activity creates a hostile work environment for the employees. Things got so bad for Lyznick that he bought his wife a weapon and posted pictures of Dery around his house so his family would know if he was around. The following quotes show the mindset of this man.

"If someone rolls over on me, I'll put a bullet in his head," Dery was alleged to have said. "I'll drag him out to the desert and bury him in the desert. The desert is a big place and there are lots of places to hide a body."
April 16, 2011

Charlene Miles Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With EEOC

Charlene Miles, who is a former county worker filed a sexual harassment lawsuit alleging former county commissioner David Ridley forced her to have oral sex, constantly subjected her to sexual harassment and viewed pornography on her office computer. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on Miles behalf. Ridley resigned from his position shortly after news of the allegations became public.

According to published accounts Miles said that Ridley continuously made sexual advances and remarks to her for more than a year. In probably the most outragous claim Miles said Ridley forced her to give him oral sex at her trailer. Other forms of sexual harassment included Ridley removing his penis from his pants and taking his hand and reaching up her skirt. This type of behavior also created a hostile work environment for Miles.

April 15, 2011

Sam's Club Settles Hostile Work Environment and National Origin Lawsuit For $440,000

Sam’s Club pays $440,000 to settle a national origin harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of nine employees. The employees of Mexican descent endured ethnic slurs and derogatory remarks by a fellow co-worker who is Mexican-American. The nine victims complained about the hostile work environment to management but nothing was done to stop it. In fact the harassment only intensified and led to intimidation.

The comments about the Mexican's included being called wetbacks and references to Mexicans only being good for cleaning the harasser’s home. The person that was making the comments even threatened to report three of the victims to immigration authorities despite their legal status. The person doing the harassing was finally fired by Sam's Club but only after the EEOC filed the lawsuit.

“A work environment that is free of harassment ensures a more productive and vibrant workplace for all.” said EEOC attorney Anna Park
April 10, 2011

Illinois Firm Pays $8 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

International Profit Associates ("IPA") which operates as a business-development firm will pay $8 million to 82 female employees as part a settlement in a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the female workers. This case has been ongoing for ten years and is a good illustration of how long it can take a case filed with the EEOC to reach settlement.

The EEOC claims the company filed motions intentionally to stall the case and drag it out. Sometimes companies take a strategic position that it is better to drag cases out and wear down their opponents. In this case the EEOC hung tough and the workers stuck around and will receive a nice payday. When this type of activity takes place in the workplace, it also creates a hostile work environment for all workers. IPA is located in Buffalo Grove Illinois and according to its' website has over 1500 full-time workers.

“The decree and the fact that sizable checks are going out to the victims of IPA’s discrimination are signal achievements,”said EEOC attorney Diane Smason and she added “It’s going to be a better day for all the women covered by the decree.”
April 9, 2011

Age Discrimination Lawsuit Settles For $467,165

The Minnesota Department of Human Services ("MDHS") pays $467,165 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of 29 workers. According to published accounts the 29 workers were denied employer contributions for retiree health and dental insurance because they were older than age 55 at the time that they retired. Once a person reaches the age of 40 they become a member of a protect class due to age.

If older workers are treated in a different manner, it may become age discrimination, like it did in this case. You can see how expensive this type of behavior is for a company or in this case state agency. Like the state didn't have anything better to do with taxpayer dollars. In the future I am sure a new plan will be formulated that is not discriminatory in nature.

“The EEOC litigated and won on the issue of the illegality of this incentive plan.” said EEOC attorneyJohn Hendrickson.

Continue reading "Age Discrimination Lawsuit Settles For $467,165" »

April 5, 2011

Jackson Public Schools Settles Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit

Jackson Public Schools settled a federal lawsuit that was based on allegations that former security chief John Coleman creating a hostile work environment. The person making the claim was Debra Robinson who was the former office manager for Coleman's department.
Robinson initially accused Coleman of creating a hostile work environment based on sexual comments even though he was not engaged in sexual harassment with her. Robinson also accused him of gender discrimination and retaliation, but those claims were dismissed for lack of evidence.

In cases like this, the hostile work environment is created because of some other discriminatory conduct. In this case the conduct was sexual comments directed at other female workers. The amount of the settlement is confidential at this time but because it involves a public entity I am sure it will be released in the future. I am glad that Robinson stuck to her guns and did not let the school disctrict get away with the discrimination that took place.

April 4, 2011

Murphy Healthcare III, LLC Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit For $30,000

There has been a rise in the number of pregnancy discrimination lawsuits my office is seeing. It seems like I am getting calls every day about women having adverse job actions taken against them at work once it becomes known they are pregnant. Here is a recent case that I wasn't involved with but it is interesting and illustrates my point. Murphy Healthcare III, LLC. agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Myesha Kerr.

Published accounts indicate that Kerr was fired after her supervisor learned that she was pregnant. Kerr worked as a housekeeper for the company and during discovery in the case the supervisor said he never would have hired Kerr had he known of her pregnancy, because he believed Kerr might injure herself by working. Sorry to break the news to you Mr. Supervisor but that is illegal and will cost the company you work for money every time you do it.

"The result of the employer’s actions in this case was to deprive a working mother of an income.” said EEOC atttorney Meaghan Shepard


Continue reading "Murphy Healthcare III, LLC Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit For $30,000" »

April 3, 2011

Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit Settled For $25,000

The city of Attleboro paid $25,000 to settle a hostile work environment and racial discrimination lawsuit with Vincent Bailey, an African-American firefighter. Because of the allegations against the city and specifically against the supervising officer, Bailey will not have to report to him in the future. The Sun Chronicle reports there is a gag order in affect and neither side is commenting, however a freedom of information request did get some information. The case was filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ("MCAD") which is similar to the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"), and the federal counterpart the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

According to reports in the Sun Chronicle, allegations include supervisor Perkins making racially based derogatory comments, such as:

"Vinny, while you're here, why don't you shine my shoes?"

These types of comments are not acceptable in the workplace and I am glad to see Mr. Bailey hold the city accountable. There were also five witnesses to the comments so it wasn't just a case of one person's word against anothers. This type of behavior not only makes work difficult for the person who is the target of the comments but it creates a hostile work environment for the other employees. You can imagine how uncomfortable it makes everyone at work.

April 1, 2011

Jury Awards $451,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Kerrry Woods is a happy man today because a jury awarded him $451,000 for his sexual harassment lawsuit against Boh Bros. Construction Co. The iron worker first filed his complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to documents and statements produced during the lawsuit the superintendent flashed him and routinely taunted him about seeming feminine. Most of the time sexual harassment lawsuits involve male-female or female-male harassment, but in this instance the sexual harassment was male-on-male.

Woods first filed an internal sexual harassment and hostile work environment complaint with the company. The company did not take the complaint seriously and after receiving his complaint, the company engaged in retaliation according to Woods. He claims the company transferred him to its another facility where he earned less and had a longer commute. The company laid him off a short time later. As is typical in these types of cases the company said they laid Woods off for business reasons--but the jury wasn't buying it.

Woods said "I knew it wasn't right that the company should be able to treat people this way," "No one should have to put up with that kind of abuse day after day."
March 23, 2011

Former Grayville Illinois Mayor Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $17,500

Former Grayville Illinois Mayor Henry S. Kijonka paid $17,500 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit involving former city employee Shelly Osborne. The city ended up paying the settlement amount which is common in these types of cases. According to published accounts Osborne alleged that on a number of occasions Kijonka came up behind her and kissed her on the neck, massaged her shoulders and reached his hands down the front of her sweater.

A problem that can arise in a case like this is witnesses. Many times the person doing the harassment will do it one-on-one and there won't be anyone to witness what took place. I suspect because of the low settlement amount, that is what happened here. I am glad to see Osborne file a complaint and hold the Mayor accountable. Hopefully, the city puts in place a sexual harassment policy and better supervises its' employees.

Continue reading "Former Grayville Illinois Mayor Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $17,500" »

March 13, 2011

Chiropractor Has Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Him By Two Former Employees

Chiropractor Paul Basile had a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by two former employees. According to the lawsuit Chrisine Gensey and Rosangela Doyle claim he groped them, made sexually suggestive comments and retaliated after they complained. Basile made remarks about Doyle's figure and placed his crotch against her hand when he was giving her a chiropractic adjustment.

According to published accounts both women complained about the sexual harassment but since he was the boss and owner the complaints fell on deaf ears. The lawsuit also has a count for retaliation but from the documents it is unclear what the retaliation is. The complaint does say the sexual harassment created a hostile work environment and the women's careers were negatively impacted and they both ended up losing money.

The lawsuit alleges Basile asked Doyle "where her remote control for her underwear was."
March 12, 2011

University of Cincinnati Sued For Sexual Harassment

Sandra Smith filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the University of Cincinnati ("UC"). Smith was fired last year and was the former Executive Director to The President. Smith is not just suing he University, she is also suing two of its top officials alleging sexual harassment, retaliation and a hostile work environment. According to published accounts, Smith claims UC Executive Vice President Fred Reynolds hugged and kissed her, and made unwanted advances toward her in the office.

Smith first filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") which is required prior to filing a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court. Smith says Reynolds tried to make her look crazy and blamed her allegations of sexual harassment on a "distorted mind" from medication after back surgery. Smith alleges she complained to UC President Greg Williams about the sexual harassment and creation of a hostile work environment but he did not take her allegations seriously. What he did do is give her a negative performance review and fired her.

The University issued a statement which said " We will defend ourselves vigorously in court."
March 8, 2011

Gala AZ Holdings Inc. Sued For Sexual Harassment

A fast food restaurant has been charged with sexual harassment and retaliation. According to published accounts, Gala AZ Holdings, Inc. subjected a female employee to sexual harassment and retaliation according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Andriana Lopez was employed by the restaurant and allegedly she was sexually harassed by an assistant manager. The sexual harassment consisted of the assistant manager fondling himself in her presence, grabbing her buttocks, and attempting to grab her breasts.

Lopez complained to her managers but not only was nothing done to stop the sexual harassment but remarkabely she was suspended and then fired in retaliation for her complaint. This type of behavior seems to be increasing and some employers just don't seem to understand how important it is to properly address a sexual harassment complaint. In this instance, the woman was subjected to a hostile work environment and the company just made things worse.

“Employers who subject people to harassment based on sex are violating federal law,” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O’Neill, "We have seen an alarming increase in retaliation charges, and we are very concerned that employees know that they can report discrimination without repercussions.”
January 25, 2011

United Bank Sued For Hostile Work Environment

Kathy Williams filed a lawsuit against her former employer, United Bank, claiming she was subjected to a hostile work environment. The basis for her lawsuit is that the co-pastor of the church who also worked with her at United Bank treated church members different than non-church members. Williams alleges she and Sammons, who was the co-pastor at the church, often discussed church business at work. Sammons described the other bank employees who also attended the church as protected employees.

The trouble started in May 2009 when Williams quit attending services at the church and in October 2009 she withdrew her membership at the church. Within a very short period of time after withdrawing her membership she was terminated. She is claiming religious discrimination based on her quitting church and then being fired. Prior to being fired, Williams complained to management but nothing was done to correct the hostile work environment.

Williams alleges Sammons said that she was "no longer protected."
January 23, 2011

Trial At The Illinois Human Rights Commission Not The Only Alternative

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment or retaliation you have options after your case has been found to have substantial evidence by the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). You can proceed to trial before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") or you can file a complaint in the circuit court of the county where the discrimination took place. There is an additional tactical consideration. If the basis for the sexual harassment were say events that can also be alleged in a complaint of intentional infliction of emotional distress, you could file a complaint with the IHRC and a separate complaint in the circuit court for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.

The basis for being able to file this additional complaint is found in a variety of court decisions. In Pavilon v. Kaferly, 561 N.E. 2d 1245, 204 Ill. App. 3d 235 (Ill. App. 1 Dist. 1990), the court held that the tort of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress required proof of more than was required for sexual harassment and served a different policy than that served by the Human Rights Act, therefore the claim was not preempted by the Human Rights Act. For this reason one could give consideration to whether there are facts sufficient to file a complaint for trial with the IHRC and also a claim in circuit court for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. Such a claim needs to prove, the conduct involved is truly extreme and outrageous; second, the actor must either intend that his conduct inflict severe emotional distress, or know that there is at least a high probability that his conduct will cause severe emotional distress; lastly, the conduct must in fact cause severe emotional distress.

January 22, 2011

Paul Big M's Grocery Store Must Pay $1.2 Million After Losing Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Big Paul M grocery store must pay $1,260,080 after a jury ruled against them in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to testimony at trial a class of female employees, many of whom were teenagers still in high school at the time, was subjected to a hostile work environment by the store’s general manager for more than 10 years. Details of the sexual harassment included egregious acts of verbal and physical sexual conduct by the company’s general manager, Allen Manwaring.

As an example of the sexual harassment Manwaring suggested a sexual threesome with one teenage cashier’s mother, stuck his tongue in another teenage cashier’s mouth and grabbed and touched the breasts and buttocks of other women. It didn't stop there, Manwaring would also make propositions for sex, make lewd gestures to employees and refuse to stop when asked to do so. Many of the young females could not take it anymore and quit their job. This is often called a constructive discharge.

EEOC attorney Ami Sanghvi said, “The harassment at the store was especially egregious because many of the employees were teenage girls who were harassed by the General Manager, who was engaged to the owner, and felt they had no where to turn for help."
January 19, 2011

EEOC Says Firefighter Sexually Harassed

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") completed its investigation and found a female Houston firefighter was subjected to a hostile work environment based on gender discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation. According to published accounts firefighter Jane Draycott found sexual slurs scrawled on her locker after she complained about workplace conditions. The fire department has denied allegations of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation and the fire department has been unable to find those responsible.

In this case Draycott is not only fighting the city but also the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association ("HPFFA"). The HPFFA is criticizing the EEOC's investigation saying not enough firefighters were interviewed. You would think the union would rally around one of its members when she is being treated in a discriminatory manner. I am glad the EEOC is sticking around and not letting this type of behavior stand. My guess is both parties will want to settle the case at this point and a settlement is probably near.

"There is reasonable cause to believe that the charging party was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her gender and was retaliated against for engaging in a protected activity," the EEOC said.
January 16, 2011

Argentine Township Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $400,000

Argentine Township settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Blythe Amenson for $400,000. According to published details in the lawsuit Amenson was a former lieutenant with the Argentine Township Fire Department working for a little more than two-years. Amenson claimed Fire Chief William Harvey made unwelcome comments that were sexual in nature. The unwelcome conduct and communications created a hostile work environment for Amenson. There obviously was some good evidence or the township would not have paid this large amount of money.

On the retaliation count of the lawsuit Amenson was discharged from her position as lieutenant of the fire department by the fire chief and Argentine Township after being sexually harassed. The reason given for the discharge was for not reaching the fire run count, yet a male firefighter who had a lower run count, remained employed. When an employee complains of sexual harassment and then is discharged for a reason that seems dishonest, a retaliation complaint will usually follow. In this case, the discharge was within a short period of time of the sexual harassment complaint and the motivation for the discharge seemed obvious.

Amerson said "Not wanting to put any negative light on the fire department, as a whole, I miss all those people. The guys have been phenomenal and like family to me.”

January 10, 2011

Fulton County Illinois Treasurer Files Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Fulton County Illinois Treasurer Victoria Harper filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and is seeking to recover lost wages and collect damages in excess of $750,000 from the county. According to published accounts, Harper's salary was set by the board at $58,300 and frozen for the next four years. However, both the Fulton County Clerk and Fulton County Circuit Clerk were both given increases over the same period. Harper is also alleging that various men in management positions treated her in a hostile fashion by yelling at her and making unreasonable demands.

According to the lawsuit demands were made of Harper that were not made of other individuals and that fell outside of the scope of her position. In a case like this, Harper will have to show that she is being treated differently than others because she is a female. The other two clerks in this case are both females which in my opinion will make the issue harder to prove. From what was alleged it sounds like the conduct of the men who yelled at Harper could have also amounted to a hostile work environment.

January 8, 2011

Terry Pearson Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $91,000

The City of Greensboro will pay $91,000 to Terry Pearson to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on his behalf. According to published documents in the case the city failed to hire then 58-year-old Pearson and instead hired three younger candidates. The job was an electronic processes specialist within the city’s 911 Division. The job involved maintenance of the city’s radio communication systems for first responders. Pearson previously owned an electronics repair shop and had other substantial experience in electronics repair and maintenance through various technician jobs. Remarkebly, the city selected three substantially younger applicants, all under age 40, who were not as qualified as Pearson.

The lawsuit was filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") after the city failed to hire Pearson. Additionally several individuals in the case testified that Pearson was rejected because of his age, and specifically, that the hiring manager was concerned Pearson might retire soon after being hired. There was another twist in this case as well. There was an additional claim against the city for failure to preserve records related to hiring for the position. Federal law requires all employers to keep documents related to personnel decisions for at least one year.

This type of behavior exhibited by management can also lead to a hostile work environment for other workers because of the signal it sends to them. When a work force believes management does not want to hire older workers, it must make them wonder what will happen to them once they turn 40.

January 7, 2011

Nancy Lopez Former Parking Authority Clerk Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $300,000

Nancy Lopez who worked as a clerk for the Jersey City Parking Authority settled her sexual harassment lawsuit for $300,000. She alleged that she was sexually harassed by three senior members of management including a director and the assistant CEO. She also alleged that the Director of Enforcement Fernando Picariello engaged in sexual harassment by repeatedly touching her, making sexual advances, touching her buttocks and legs and suggesting that she had nice boobs.

The sexual harassment was bad enough but then Lopez reported the conduct to Chairman Michael Holloway he did nothing to stop the sexual harassment. The other two men involved were Raymond Manzo and David Lerner." Lerner is the assistant chief executive officer and Manzo is an enforcement officer. This type of behavior is scary for a low level worker especially when the men engaging in it are all senior executives. You can tell by the settlement amount that her story was believable. This type of behavior also created a hostile work environment for Lopez and she probablly did not see any way out. As part of the settlement she was forced to resign her position.

"I can't help that people make allegations," Holloway said. "There are two sides of the story."


January 6, 2011

Chicago Area Jewel Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $3.2 Million

Jewel-Osco stores settled a disability discrimination lawsuit for $3.2 million resolving the case which was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s ("EEOC"). The lawsuit stemmed from a store policy of terminating employees with disabilities at the end of medical leaves of absence rather than bringing them back to work with reasonable accommodations. This policy affected almost 1,000 employees in the greater Chicago area who were allegedly terminated under this policy since 2003.

For various reasons not all of the 1000 former employees are eligable to collect part of the money--only 110 former employees will share in the money. The conduct of the company violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). As a result of the lawsuit the policy at Jewel will be revised and this type of activity should not occur in the future. The EEOC did a great job enforcing current law and making sure a large employer did not continue discriminating against its' workforce. This type of behavior by a company also creates a very hostile work environment for employees.

“This very important settlement underscores the EEOC’s commitment to vigorous enforcement of the Americans With Disabilities Act and to ensuring that all workers receive fair and equal treatment in the workplace,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.
January 5, 2011

Car Dealer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

David Chevrolet settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with three employees for $125,000. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the employees who claimed the dealership created a hostile work environment for the salespeople. According to published accounts because of the sexual harassment the two women quit and the man was fired in retaliation when he complained about the hostile work environment.

Details of the sexual harassment and hostile work environment include exposing the two women to pornography, photos of topless women and lewd comments. The male employee claimed he was sexually harassed based on stereotypes of how a man should act, including assigning him a derogatory e-mail address and subjecting him to comments about highlights in his hair and crude sexual comments when it was learned he had a girlfriend.

Chevrolet attorney Hugh Carlin said "the company agreed to settle the claims because of the anticipated substantial expenditure of time and money necessary to successfully defend itself through trial.”
January 1, 2011

Illinois Wal-Mart Sued For Sexual Harassment

Roben Hall filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Wal-Mart and it is headed for a trial before the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") on February 11, 2011. Hall claims she was subjected to sexual harassment while working as an overnight stocker for Wal-Mart. To make matters worse for Wal-Mart they fired Hall and according to published reports have threatened additional legal action against her if she continues with this lawsuit--claiming she is acting in bad faith.

In this case the sexual harassment alleged was between two women. Any sexual harassment can cause a hostile work environment for all workers not just the one being harassed. Also in Illinois one must first file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") before the case ever makes it to the IHRC. Even though the case is scheduled for trial soon, unless a pre-trial statement is filed in advance and neither party files a motion for discovery, the case trial date will only act as a first status hearing and the Judge will set discovery deadlines.

According to Hall, "one manager told her that he didn't have to investigate Hall's complaint because it involved two women."
January 1, 2011

Sexual Orientation and Hostile Work Environments

My Chicago office is getting more and more calls from employees who are being discrminated against based on their sexual orientation. You would not believe the types of comments some employees have to put up with. Many gay employees take a tremendous amount of abuse from some immature and just plain mean people. This type of activity creates a hostile work environment for every employee not just the person being discriminated against.

It the past most of the hostile work environment cases revolved around sexual harassment issues but more and more sexual orientation seems to be taking center stage. It is extremely important for a gay person to realize they don' thave to take this type of treatment. In fact many times the person being called gay and having these types of comments directed at him isn't even gay.

December 30, 2010

Glancy Binkow & Goldberg Sued For Sexual Harassment

Law firm Glancy Binkow & Goldberg is being sued by Ashlee IIewicz, a former employee for sexual harassment and wrongful-termination. According to published accounts right after the holiday party, founding partner Lionel Z. Glancy took employees to a bikini bar named Fantasy Island, paid for their admissions and bought a lap dance for at least one employee. The allegations include claims that female employees at the firm were subjected to a hostile work environment because senior attorneys were always discussing sex in the workplace and making sexual comments.

In what seems to be a remarkable claim, apparently one lawyer posted photographs of naked women on the wall of his office. Ilewicz worked as an investigator at the firm for 14 months before she was fired for complaining about the performance of an attorney and complaining about the hostile work environment. Being fired for complaining about this type of behavior would also rise to the level of retaliation.

"Glancy declined to comment"
December 29, 2010

Subway Franchise Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $55,000

SKMATCH, Inc a franchise for a Subway restaurant pays $55,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC also alleged the creation of hostile work environment because of what happened to two female employees. Published accounts allege that the male assistant manager at the Subway store where Helena Miller worked, subjected her to repeated sexual comments, sexual propositions and name calling and sexual touching.

Miller was only 18 years old at the time she was sexually harassed, and the assistant manager who harassed her was 28. Miller complained to other managers about the sexual harassment but no action was taken in response to her complaints. The harassment was so intolerable that Miller was forced to quit her job in order to avoid being harassed. When an employee quits their job because of discrimination or sexual harassment it is referred to as a constructive discharge. This type of behavior by a member of management not only cost the company money but also bad publicity which will probably cost it customers.

“All workers have the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment,” says EEOC attorney Lynette Barnes, “No one should have to put up with sexual comments or touching in their place of work.”

Continue reading "Subway Franchise Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $55,000" »

December 28, 2010

Cobra Pavers Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

Cobra Pavers pays $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to details which were published Cobra managers subjected female office employees to a hostile work environment and engaged in sexual harassment by telling stories of sexual exploits, making inappropriate sexual comments, and engaging in unwelcome sexual touching.

Sometimes in traditionally male dominated work places this type of activity seems normal, but in fact it is sexual harassment and will cost the company money every time. It is wise for companies to make sure all of their employees are training in what type of behavior is proper and legal under the law. It has been my experience that the more senior managers are the ones that need the most training of discrimination in the workplace.

“Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in any workplace, and the construction industry is no exception,” said EEOC Attorney Robert Weisberg.
December 28, 2010

Crothall Healthcare Pays $88,000 To Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

Crothall Healthcare, Inc pays $88,422 and reinstates a fired employee to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to court documents Crothall Healthcare fired a housekeeping employee after discovering that she was pregnant. This type of behavior is illegal and will usually result in a lawsuit. Employers seem to think that a pregnant employee can't do the same level of work that was performed prior to being pregnant.

In this case, the amount of money is probably double what the housekeeping employee was making per year so you can see how expensive this type of behavior is. Not only will Crothall have to pay over $88,000 but they will have to submit reports to the EEOC for two-years showing they are not engaging in discriminatory behavior. They will also have to provide training for employees and management so this type of activity does not happen in the future. Engaging is this type of treatment of an employee also forms a hostile work environment to all employees.

“Employers cannot refuse to allow women to work based on discriminatory stereotypes about pregnancy. They must treat pregnant women just as they would any other employee,” said Faye Williams, EEOC attorney.
December 27, 2010

TSA Employee Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

John Arndt a former Transportation Security Administration ("TSA") worker was fired by the TSA and filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against the agency--the lawsuit was dismissed because of procedural errors and is being appealed. The thrust of his allegations are that he was fired because he complained about sexual harassment from a female boss and as a result the agency engaged in retaliation against him. Of course there are two sides to every story and the TSA tells a different story. According to published court documents Arndt was a troublesome employee who was fired because he engaged in “harassing,” “irresponsible” and “confrontational” workplace behavior.

In court papers Arndt claims Buffalo TSA managers drummed him out of the agency because he had an affair with a high-ranking Buffalo TSA official and then broke off the affair. This makes up the majority of his retaliation claim in the lawsuit. Arndt said he broke off the affair because he was about to get married. After he told the women it was over she repeatedly called him, seeking to resume the affair. He refused, and the supervisor was promoted to a position above him. He claims this caused a hostile work environment for him and resulted in his termination.

“I filed a complaint of sexual harassment, and the TSA investigator who interviewed me told me, ‘Men don’t get sexually harassed, be a real man,’ ” Arndt said.
December 24, 2010

Kaplan Higher Education Corp. Sued For Discrimination

Kaplan Higher Education Corporation is being sued because it participated in a pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination by refusing to hire a class of black job applicants nationwide. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the class of workers after a lengthy investigation. It a common practice but is one that usually doesn't result in a lawsuit, Kaplan rejected job applicants based on their credit history. This practice has an unlawful discriminatory impact because of race and is neither job-related nor justified by business necessity.

As a result of this practice the company engaged in racial discrimination. This can also create a hostile work environment because of the impact this has on the workplace in general. In order to deny someone a job because of their credit score, one would have to show that a person with poor credit would have a negative impact on their job performance. For example in the banking industry it would probably be okay to not hire a person working with money all day if they had a poor credit score because of the involvement with money.

“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was intended to eliminate practices that serve as arbitrary barriers to employment because of a job applicant’s race,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence.
December 23, 2010

CasaBlanca Casino Pays $60,000 To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

CasaBlanca Casino settled an age discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two sales manager who were over the age of 40. According to documents this office obtained, the two sales managers working at the CasaBlanca Resort & Casino, ages 67 and 55 were informed that their positions were being eliminated.

The problem with that story was the two older sales managers were subsequently replaced by two younger new hires within approximately two months of eliminating their positions. Because they were replaced within a short period of time they were discriminated against due to their age, a direct violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). This type of behavior is not only illegal but it creates a hostile work environment for other employees.

“Notwithstanding, employers should be proactive in reviewing their own procedures and training staff accordingly so that older workers are not treated differently simply because of their age.” said EEOC attorney Anna Park
December 22, 2010

Omnicare Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $195,000

Omnicare, Inc. pays $195,000 to five female workers to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on their behalf. According to published accounts a pharmacy manager engaged in repeated, egregious acts of sexual harassment toward female employees, such as unwelcome touching that included approaching female employees from behind and grinding his crotch on them, and making sexually explicit and demeaning comments to female employees.

The women came forward to reported the conduct to management but nothing was done to stop the sexual harassment and it only got worse. This type of conduct created a hostile work environment for the five women. You would think in a professional atmosphere like a pharmacy this type of behavior would not take place but it seems all to common in todays work environment. I am glad these females came forward and the EEOC was able to settle the case.

“One would think that if any workplace would be free of egregious sexual harassment, it would be a workplace connected to health care -- like a pharmacy,” said EEOC Attorney John Hendrickson.

Continue reading "Omnicare Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $195,000" »

December 19, 2010

Spud Seller Inc. Sued For Sexual Harassment

A Monte Vista potato company, Sput Seller Inc. is being sued for sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment for female employees. Five women claim they were the victims of sexual harassment.Spud Seller denied the allegations and is taking the case to trial. The case was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

According to published accounts the supervisor, Mauricio Gaytan tried to kiss female employees and also engaged in other activity the elevated the claim to sexual harassment. The lawsuit alleges that five female workers are victims of sexual harassment by the supervisor, at least as far back as 2004. It alleges the supervisor physically assaulted one female and propositioned her for sex in 2007. Also Spud Seller created the hostile work environment by purportedly allowing Gaytan to harass women and by failing to prevent and correct the situation.

December 18, 2010

Cheesecake Factory Sued For Sexual Harassment

The Cheesecake Factory is being sued for sexual harassment after Michael Knight claims other male line chefs sexually harassed him and the Factory punished him when he complained. Punishing someone because they report sexual harassment is referred to as retaliation and is illegal. According to details in the lawsuit, Knight claims line chefs continually grabbed each others' buttocks and genitalia and simulated sexual intercourse in front of him.

For his retaliation claim he alleges that the company punished him and then fired him after he expressed his discomfort and complained. In what is the most disturbing allegation, somone put a sanitary pad on a serving of meatloaf that Knight was about to prepare for a customer. When Knight showed this to a person in charge, the person just smiled. This type of behavior creates a hostile work environment and obviously resulted in this lawsuit. The Cheesecake Factory settled a similar claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $345,000 last year. In that case the EEOC conclued the evidence:

"overwhelmingly showed that the men suffered sexually abusive behavior, including abusers directly touching victims' genitals, making sexually charged remarks, grinding their genitals against them, and forcing victims into repeated episodes of simulated rape."


December 17, 2010

The EEOC Has Record Number of Discrimination Claims

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") said it received a record 99,922 charges in FY 2010, the highest number of charges in the agency’s 45-year history. The EEOC secured more than $319 million in monetary benefits for individuals which represents the highest level of relief obtained through administrative enforcement in the EEOC’s history. It is clear the EEOC is stepping up enforcement of discrimination throughout the country.

In Illinois if you are the victim of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, or many of the other types of discrimination that create a hostile work environment, you can contact my office to file a charge with the EEOC or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") which automatically cross-files with the EEOC. I prefer to file with the IDHR because they have fewer cases and more staff to handle the cases. Also the state route in my opinion is a much faster way to proceed and have your case resolved. The EEOC does a good job, but just not as good as the IDHR when it comes to a speedy resolution.

“The EEOC is on the path toward rebuilding and on track to make further progress in the upcoming fiscal year to more efficiently and effectively enforce the federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.

Continue reading "The EEOC Has Record Number of Discrimination Claims" »

December 15, 2010

Patton Archery Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $21,000

Patton Archery Manufacturing, Inc. will settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $21,000. According to published settlement details, the owner of Patton subjected three female bow sanders, Brenda Maynard, Julie Roberts and Leslie Querio, to a hostile work environment and engaged in sexual harassment of the females. The sexual harassment included telling and disseminating detailed sexual jokes and unwanted physical touching.

Under the terms of the agreement, Patton will also be prohibited from retaliating against any employees for filing a charge of discrimination or participating in the investigation of any charge of discrimination. Because the industry is dominated by males it makes it even harder for females to break into the field. In this case the owner was doing the sexual harassment which puts the employees in a very tough spot. It is always hard to go against the owner of a company but these women hung in there and fought until the end.

“Although the company closed after the EEOC filed its lawsuit, we continued to pursue this case because these three women were harmed and were entitled to relief,” said EEOC attorney Trek Carethers.
December 13, 2010

Waterford Township Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $95,000

Waterford Township settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a female employee in the police department for $95,000. The employee Arlene Hampton, an administrative specialist in the police records division, filed the lawsuit alleging that male supervisors routinely made sexually suggestive statements to her and commented on her body.

According to the lawsuit female employees were referred to as the bra brigade and the bra corps. This type of behavior will always get the employer in trouble and cost them money. It is hard to believe this type of behavior continues. As part of the settlement, Hampton will remain with the police department. Because she is remaining with the department, the payout is lower. It is very important for an individual to come forward immediately if experiencing discrimination or a hostile work environment. This type of activity would form a hostile work environment in Illinois.

Township Director Robert Seeterlin said about training the township will undergo, "That training included how to address a complaint, and how they have to be taken seriously."


December 11, 2010

Securitas Security Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $65,000

Chicago-based Securitas Security Services will pay $65,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Sheilandra Walker. According to published accounts security guard Walker was subjected to sexual harassment by two male guards; one of whom was her supervisor. If someone is sexually harassed by their supervisor there is strict liability to the company.

The two guards subjected Walker to unwelcome sexual comments, gestures and sexual touching. In probably the most troubling details one of the guards engaged in conduct such as licking his lips and grabbing his crotch while staring at Walker’s breasts, and he would physically touch Walker by blocking the door of the guard shack when she tried to leave so that she had to brush up against him. Once the conduct was reported to management nothing was done to stop it. In fact, the company took a negative job action against Walker and this was the basis for the retaliation claim.

“Employees must be free to report harassment without fear of reprisal,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes

Continue reading "Securitas Security Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $65,000" »

December 9, 2010

Sahara Casino Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $100,000

Sahara Hotel & Casino will pay $100,000 to settle a national origin discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").
According to details which were published as part of the settlement, Sahara 's supervisors and coworkers continuously belittled and harassed Ezzat Elias, whose job entailed maintaining and delivering food to the hotel buffet, because of his Egyptian heritage. Mr. Elias had to endure many hostile work environment type commnets while doing his job. The commnets included, “Go back to Egypt,” “f-----g Egyptian,” and often referred to him as “Bin Laden.”

Elias also endured graffiti in the men’s locker room and elsewhere, targeting him with phrases such as “sand n----r” and “the Taliban must die.” You can imagion how difficult it would be to go to work every day under these types of conditions. Elias made repeated complaints to management about what was going on and management did nothing to stop it. Instead supervisors retaliated against Elias shortly after his initial complaint by increasing his workload, subjecting him to closer scrutiny, formally disciplining and ultimately suspending him.

“Under federal law, employees of all national origins are protected from this type of harassment,” said Anna Park, EEOC attorney.

Continue reading "Sahara Casino Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $100,000" »

December 8, 2010

Steakhouse Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $250,000

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar pays $250,00 to settle a same-sex sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts male employees who worked at Fleming’s were sexually abused by the head chef, Tod Rawson. Rawson frequently pinched or squeezed his subordinates’ private parts, flicked their genitals with his bare hands, and groped them from behind. Employers have a duty to immediately stop sexual harassment when it occurs and in this case not only was it not stopped but it continued for over a year.

Even more shocking details emerged of the hostile work environment as Rawson even used kitchen utensils from the restaurant to touch his victims’ genitals through their clothing. A damning piece of evidence was that several managers at Fleming’s knew what was happening well before formal charges were filed but did nothing to stop it. This leaves management in a position of full liability. Hopefully paying this amount of money will make the company take a hard look at their sexual harassment policy and make the needed changes.

Rayford Irvin, EEOC attorney said, “We want the public to know that sexual harassment isn’t just about misconduct between men and women. It includes sexually abusive behavior between people of the same sex also. Regardless of your gender or anyone else’s, you don’t have to tolerate sexual harassment.”
December 7, 2010

Sexual Harassment and Christmas Parties

Oh tis the season to be jolly, but don't get too jolly at the Christmas (holiday) party. For some reason otherwise good employees get a little liquor in their system and act like damn fools at the Christmas party. I guess some can't handle their liquor or some just don't care. Remember at a Christmas party, lewd and sexual comments are not okay and can form the basis for a sexual harassment complaint. Probably the most damning thing that people do at these parties is sexually harass their co-worker in front of everyone. Talk about leaving some nice evidence.

It is probably a good idea for the boss to remind people that the rules and conduct apply to parties and also the boss should make sure a limited amount of alcohol is available--if any. My office sees a spike in sexual harassment cases after these types of parties and it always amazes me that a better job isn't done by management in that regard. Remember the conduct at a party can also create a hostile work environment. Complaints about sexual harassment or a hostile work environment can be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

December 6, 2010

Custodial Supervisor Settles Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit For $250,000

The Schenectady school district settles a hostile work environment lawsuit for $250,000 with former custodial supervisor Ronald Kriss. According to published accounts Kriss alleged years of on-the-job harassment by his boss, Steven Raucci which resulted in health problems and drove him to an early retirement. Raucci, 61, was arrested and charged with multiple offenses and was found guilty of all but four of 22 counts, including arson, conspiracy and weapons offenses.

The lawsuit alleges Raucci several times attempted to grab Kriss' genitals in what came to be known as the man game. It sounds like Raucci was a very disturbed individual and the fact that the school district employed him for so long had a lot to do with the settlement amount. This type of behavior is well past the norm and ended up costing the district a good deal of money. This type of activity could also have been categorized as sexual harasment.

December 5, 2010

Akai Security Pays $1.62 To Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuits

Akal Security pays $1.62 million to a class of 26 female security guards, settling a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of them by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Details which have been published claim Akal began a nationwide pattern and practice of forcing its pregnant employees, working as contract security guards on U.S. Army bases, to take leave and discharging them because of pregnancy. Akal also engaged in retaliation against one female by filing criminal charges against her because she filed a claim with the EEOC. That type of activity by a company is scarey and I am glad that the EEOC pursued this matter in an agressive fashion.

In addition to that type of behavior, Akal also created a hostile work environment by subjecting the women to less favorable terms and conditions of employment because of pregnancy, including preventing them from completing their annual physical agility and firearms tests or forcing them to take such tests before their certifications had expired. This type of large settlement should send a message to management that this type of behavior will not be tolerated and will be costly. To other companies that wish to hire Akal Security, I hope they will demand that any discrimination does not take place in the future.

“This is a very important settlement that will help protect an entire class of women from discrimination on account of pregnancy,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.
December 1, 2010

LAZ Parking Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit With EEOC For $46,000

LAZ Parking pays $46,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a Muslim woman. According to accounts with have been published LAZ Parking unlawfully subjected a practicing Muslim woman to discrimination when it terminated her because of her religious beliefs and refusing to remove her head covering (hijab).

This type of activity is taking place more and more and there has been a real increase in religious and national origin discrimination. Both of these types of discrimination cause a hostile work environment for employees.

“LAZ Parking worked diligently with the parties in this case to come to a speedy resolution,” said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins. “Going forward, we believe LAZ Parking is sincerely committed to avoiding these types of problems.”
November 30, 2010

Marlow 6 Theater Settles ADA Lawsuit With EEOC for $20,000

Innershore Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Marlow 6 Theater, pays $20,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company unlawfully fired a concession manager because of her disability, Human Immunodeficiency Virus ("HIV"). The theater fired Robin C. Adams when the company became aware that she was HIV-positive. The Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") makes it unlawful to discriminate against a qualified individual because of an actual disability or because he or she had a record of disability or was regarded as disabled.

This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and usually results in a company paying money to settle the lawsuit. It was be good of companies stopped being ignorant about HIV and instead educated management about the facts and allowed employees to do their job without fear and intimidation.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said “It is illegal to treat employees or applicants based upon myths, fears and stereotypes about HIV and AIDS.”
November 16, 2010

McDonald's Pays $50,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

McDonald’s pays $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The case involved an assitant manager sexually harassing a teenage female worker. According to published reports an assistant store manager made lewd comments to a teenaged crew member and touched, spanked and hugged him in a way that made him very uncomfortable.

The crew member was only 16-17 years of age when these incidences took place. This type of behavior can create a hostile work environment for all employees not just the one being harassed.

EEOC attorney Elizabeth Grossman said, “The EEOC takes very seriously allegations of sexual harassment involving teenagers because many of them are in the workplace for the first time and don’t know how to complain, especially when the harasser is their supervisor.”
November 14, 2010

Sexual Harassment Cases Increase In Illinois

My office is seeing an increase in the number of sexual harassment cases in Illinois, particularly in my Chicago office. There may be several reasons for the increase including the downturn in the economy and the pressure employees are feeling to go along with whatever is happening at work or else get fired. Because more of the sexual harassment takes place face-to-face and without witnesses it be extremely frustrating for those getting harassed. This harassment also creates a hostile work environment and can lead to a person quitting.

In Illinois you can file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illiniois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). I prefer the IDHR as they are required by statute to complete their investigation within one year and seem to be better staffed and focused on investigating the complaint. Remember there are very strict time limits for filing and it is very important to contact my office at once to review the facts of your case.

November 13, 2010

Police Officer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $750,000

The city of Concord California settles a sexual harassment lawsuit and will pay $250,000 to former police officer Lisa Capocci and $500,000 in legal fees to her attorney for a total settlement of $750,000. According to published accounts one of Capocci's supervisors, then-Cpl. Michael Hansen, made inappropriate sexual advances toward her. When she complained, Hansen and his colleagues in the department retaliated by filing a half-dozen groundless internal affairs investigations against her.

In probably the most troubling aspect of the case Capocci alleged other officers were slow to back her up on calls. Doing something like that could put her life in danger. After being stripped of her position as a K-9 officer, Capocci quit the department because of the hostile work environment. For the cities part they claim that the internal investigations against her were all legitimate. They point to the fact that Capocci posted pictures on Facebook of a trip to the county fair while she said she was out sick. I think paying that large amount however says it all.


November 12, 2010

Construction Company Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

Cobra Pavers & Engineering, Inc. and Cobra Construction, Inc., pay $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Published reports indicate that Cobra subjected female office employees to a hostile work environment and to sexual harassment. The sexual harassment included telling stories of sexual exploits, derogatory remarks about females, inappropriate sexual comments and engaging in unwelcome touching of a sexual nature by Cobra's managerial agents.

Even though there is constant publicity about sexual harassment and what not to do, there seems to be a never ending stream of cases. Industries that are dominated by males seem to have a hard time adjusting to females and to treating females with respect in the workplace. This type of settlement should send a message and make the owners and management take notice.

"Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in any workplace, and the construction industry is no exception," said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg.
November 11, 2010

Guardsmark Pays $52,500 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Guardsmark LLC pays $52,500 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Danielle Jones and other female guards. According to published accounts Jones was not treated like the males guards because the company listened to customer preferences for male security guards and reassigned Jones and the other female guards to inconvenient, lesser-paying security guard posts.

Even though the company is in business to make money and to serve the needs of its' clients, the company may not engage in discriminatory conduct. This type of behavior is illegal and will end up costing the company cash and goodwill. It is very important to contact an employment lawyer if you believe you are the victim of discrimination in Illinois. This type of behavior can also create a hostile work environment and make the employees life miserable.

“This settlement serves as reminder to businesses that a customer’s preference to be staffed or served by workers of a particular gender is never an excuse to engage in illegal sex discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Jim Sacher.
November 10, 2010

Days Inn Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $50,000

Days Inn Hotel pays $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a spanish speaking female housekeeper. According to published accounts, a supervisor sexually harassed the housekeeper and when she complained to management they did nothing to stop it and even cut her hours.

The sexual harassment created a hostile work environment for the housekeeper. In the complaint it was alleged that the housekeeper was sexually assaulted, including being subjected to an attempted rape by a supervisor. This was a very serious sexual harassment case and I am glad the EEOC was able to help this woman and hold the company and supervisor accountable.

"The EEOC takes extreme forms of sexual harassment, like the attempted sexual assault in this case, extremely seriously," said Nedra Campbell, the EEOC attorney assigned to handle the case.
November 9, 2010

Cactus Grill Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

The Cactus Grill will pay $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit involving a former teenage employee. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the female employee. According to published reports, an assistant manager asked the 18-year-old female server for sex, touched her and made unwelcome sexual advances toward her. It is also alleged that the Cactus Grill had received complaints about the assistant manager before and did nothing to correct or stop his behavior.

After the female reported the sexual harassment, she claims it did not stop and resulted in a hostile work environment. She felt unsafe and uncomfortable at work so she quit. When this happens it is called a constructive discharge and can be a separate discrimination complaint. Cactus Grill is owned by Northstar Inc.

“The young woman told the restaurant that she did not want to return to work,” said Paul Pautler, Northstar’s attorney.
November 1, 2010

Northern Illinois Based Maxwell House Sued For Gender Discrimination

The Maxwell House Coffee headquartered in Northern Illinois is being sued for gender discrimination for subjecting a female employee at its Jacksonville, Fla., coffee plant to discriminatory terms and conditions. The company allegedly also disciplined and terminated Francena Smith on the basis of her gender. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Smith. According to published accounts Smith was disciplined more harshly that her male co-workers when they were involved in incidents where coffee was damaged, and was then fired because of her gender.

An arbitrator ordered Smith reinstated in March 2010, however she did not receive any monetary damages. This can happen with arbitration and it does not affect the ongoing litigation. It puts the company in a tough spot because they are being sued by a person who is working for them. This also can create a hostile work environment and can be tricky for the person who was just ordered back to work.

“Subjecting a person to different standards and discipline simply because of the person’s gender is just plain wrong,” said EEOC Acting District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas.
October 28, 2010

Rally's Hamburgers Settles Teenage Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

Rally's Hamburger's will pay $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published reports at least one former Rally's Hamburger's manager violated federal law by sexually harassing teenage females. The manager subjected teenage female employees to unwelcome sexual comments, advances and groping. The manager did not stop there, according to published accounts the manager also assaulted one teenage female.

This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and makes working tough for all employees. When there are female teenage workers and older male supervisors, the owners of the company must take extra steps to ensure there is not sexual harassment going on. Because the teenage workers are not experienced, they may be more apt to not report the sexual harassment or to go along with it.

October 26, 2010

Calista CEO Matthew Nicolai Sued For Sexual Harassment

Former Calista CEO Matthew Nicolai is being sued for sexual harassment. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by employee Emily Davenport and alleges Nicolai stalked her and used his position to professionally harm her after she broke off their year-long relationship in 2009. Davenport held a high ranking position and was the former president of Calista subsidiary Solstice Advertising. According to published accounts she was put on leave a week after she complained about the sexual harassment and then fired. Being fired for reporting sexual harassment is retaliation and it is illegal if proven.

Davenport said the company fired her under false pretenses, citing lackluster job performance. She also alleged that other members of Calista management were aware of Nicolai's relationship with her and that she broke it off. This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and is also part of the lawsuit. The fact that the company fired Nicolai shows the board must feel Nicolai was doing something wrong.


October 25, 2010

County Auditor Sued For Sexual Harassment

Leanna Fannon, a Platte County worker is suing the county auditor for sexual harassment,creating a hostile work environment and retaliation. Fannon worked in the county’s human resources office for fourteen years and currently works as a payroll specialist. According to published accounts she claims Auditor Siobhann K. Williams, a female, began making unwanted sexual advances toward her three years ago. The sexual harassment included comments about Fannon’s clothing and appearance. Additionally Williams at one point sent her flowers.

Fannon rejected the advances and told Williams she was married. For his part Williams is denying the claims. The claim of retaliation is based on the fact that Williams questioned Fannon's job performance and the Platte County Commission demoted Fannon. This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and resulted in the County Commission getting named in the lawsuit as well as Williams. Williams is also up for re-election.

“The allegations she is making are absolutely untrue and I am not a lesbian,” Williams said. “The timing is interesting because it is two weeks before I am up for re-election.”


October 23, 2010

Sony Settles Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuit For $20,000

Charles Morgan IV, will receive $20,000 from Sony Music Holdings Inc to settle a sexual harassment and sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit. Morgan worked at the compact disc and digital media manufacturing facility for about 1.5 years and filed his lawsuit alleging he had been the target of comments from co-workers because he is homosexual. This type of discrimination is called discrimination based on sexual orientation.

According to published accounts of the lawsuit Morgan alleged co-workers made offensive comments about his sexual preference on more than one occasion and he was the subject of graffiti written on machinery and a men's room wall. Morgan alleged he was denied a promotion from his part-time status to full-time as a result of retaliation from his employer for making a complaint over discriminatory treatment. Morgan also claims all of these actions resulted in the creation of a hostile work environment.

A short time later Morgan claimed a co-worker told him "you're too gay to sit here."
October 21, 2010

McDonald's Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $50,000

McDonald’s pays $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to details that are published, McDonald’s unlawfully subjected an employee to sexual harassment. The details include an assistant store manager making lewd comments to a teenaged crew member and that he touched, spanked and hugged him in a way that made him very uncomfortable. The employee was only 16-17 years of age at the time.

This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and is illegal. I am glad the EEOC held McDonald's accountable for the actions of its management team. At fast food restaurants, many employees are young and may seem easy to take advantage of. McDonalds needs to put better protections in place so this doesn't happen in the future.

Adela Santos, the EEOC trial attorney assigned to the case, added, “We are very pleased that McDonald’s agreed to settle this case without protracted litigation and that it is taking steps to prevent future workplace discrimination."
October 20, 2010

Austin Foam Plastics Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $600,000

Austin Foam Plastics pays $600,000 to settle a racial discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Austin Foam subjected African-American employees to a racially hostile work environment, subjecting two male employees to a sexual harassment and fired one employee for opposing and reporting the discrimination and harassment.

The pubished accounts allege the harassment included black employees being routinely subjected to discriminatory intimidation, racially offensive comments, insults, cartoons and jokes. A female manager sexually harassed male employees by subjecting them to unwelcome sexual comments and unsolicited physical contact of a sexual nature. She also offered more favorable terms of employment to those males who went along with her sexual harassment and punished those that didn't.

“The law requires employers to take reasonable steps to prevent and to correct racial and sexual harassment,” said David Rivela, EEOC attorney.
October 18, 2010

Forrest City Grocery Sued For Gender Discrimination

Forrest City Grocery Company is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for gender discrimination for not promoting a female worker, Amanda McMillan because of her gender. McMillan worked as a clerical employee then applied to an outside salesperson position but was denied solely because of her gender. Additionally, the company refused to pay her what it paid male employees performing comparable duties.

In cases like this, it is easy to determine the facts as far as pay is concerned. One only need to review the checks of the males and Amanda McMillan and they were either paid more than her or they weren't. This type of discrimination can lead to a hostile work environment.

“Remarkably, some employers still believe women should be excluded from certain types of work simply because of their gender,” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, EEOC attorney. “This is not just bad business, it is illegal.”
October 17, 2010

Hostile Work Environment In Illinois

My office gets many calls from employees who believe they are working in a hostile work environment and need advice. In Illinois the hostile work environment needs to be based on a protected category. Another words if the boss is just a jerk or a loud mouth and isn't discriminating based on a protected category, there is no protection. On the other hand if you are the victim of sexual harassment, or being discriminated against based on race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, marital status, veteran status, or citizen status, and you believe a hostile work environment exists as a result, you have protection.

The important things to do are first follow your company policy on reporting discrimination which will include reporting it to human resources or other management. Second, cooperate with any investigation. Third, speak with an attorney to make sure your rights are protected. Depending on what the company does will affect your next steps. In all cases however make sure you continue to come to work on time, be a good employee and do your job. Don't give the company a legitimate reason to fire you.

October 16, 2010

Former Human Resource Manager Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $600,000

Debbie McPherson, human resource manager for the County settled her sexual harassment lawsuit for $600,000. According to the lawsuit she claimed top officials knew or should have known about sexual harassment directed toward her that was occuring in the Planning Department. The sexual harassment included the deputy director who sent pornography from his work computer and bragged about his supply of a sexual-performance drug.

Once McPherson came forward with her complaint, she was laid off from her $101,000-a-year position. Prior to being laid off and in what she believes was retaliation for complaining , her entire staff was moved to another floor, then reassigned. This type of behavior is usually not coincidence. In her lawsuit she claimed the formation of a hostile work environment and this type of settlement shows the other side agreed.

McPherson is now working in a similar job in Las Vegas.

"I have a marvelous job to go to. I can put this behind me. I couldn't be more delighted," McPherson.
October 7, 2010

Concrete Company Pays $325,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Concrete company Bardon, Inc. pays $325,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Bardon created and maintained a hostile work environment for Ora L. Borrell -- the only female quality control technician employed at the company.

The sexual harassment included repeated public urination in her presence, overt and explicit sexual comments and requests, touching and grabbing against her will and other sexually offensive conduct while on the job. This type of activity at work is against the law and will cost a company money each and every time. Borrell’s managers were aware of the sexual harassment because they witnessed some incidents. Borrell was subsequently fired by the company’s human resources department in retaliation for opposing these discriminatory practices.

“Sexual harassment continues to be a persistent problem 45 years after the enactment of Title VII, which prohibits gender discrimination in employment,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
October 6, 2010

Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit Because Of Race-Based Preferences

The United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit issued a ruling regarding what constitutes a hostile work environment. In Chaney v. Plainfield Healtcare Center, the 7th Circuit ruled a nursing home which had a policy of honoring a patient's racial preferences is not required to do so by law and therefore can be sued for creating a hostile work enivornment for it's workers. It is crazy that in this point in our country's history we still have companies and people who are acting like it's 1700. You would think people have evolved to the point where they don't have to discriminate like this.

The problem started when black nursing assistant Brenda Chaney did not help a patient because the patient did not want any black people helping her. Chaney claimed that the healthcare center rules on racial preferences caused her to become depressed. Chaney sued the healthcare center but the district court dismissed the case after granting summary judgment in favor of the healthcare center. The 7th Circuit reinstated the lawsuit and my guess is the parties will now settle. Aside from creating a hostile work environment, the company probably engaged in racial discrimination from the behavior as well.

"The policy puts Plaintfield at risk of violating duties of medical care that it owes its residents" Judge Ann Claire Williams said.

Continue reading "Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit Because Of Race-Based Preferences" »

October 3, 2010

Williams Sausage Sued For Hostile Work Environment and Racial Discrimination

Williams Sausage sued for racial discrimination by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of an African-American maintenance worker who was paid less than others. The EEOC also alleged that Williams Sausage subjected him to a hostile work environment because of the discriminatory acts and this led to him quitting. What an employer forces an employee out of a job it is referred to as a constructive discharge.

According to published documnets, Williams Sausage gave raises and paid higher salaries to all maintenance department employees except the department’s lone African-American employee and allowed a supervisor to regularly use racially offensive language toward the employee because of racial animus. It is hard to believe that this type of behavior still exists but sadly it does. It takes vigilence and hard work to ferret out these types of companies and to protect the rights of all employees.

“Sadly, race discrimination continues to exist in the workplace where workers are paid less and subjected to harassment. Addressing such conduct remains a priority for the Commission,” said Katharine W. Kores, EEOC attorney.

Continue reading "Williams Sausage Sued For Hostile Work Environment and Racial Discrimination" »

October 1, 2010

Human Resource Manager Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $600,000

Former human-resources manager Debbie McPherson who alleged sexual harassment by male managers in the Planning Department settled for lawsuit for around $600,000. McPherson, a 27-year county employee, filed her lawsuit alleging top officials knew or should have known about misconduct in the Planning Department, including a deputy director who sent pornography from his work computer and bragged about his supply of a sexual-performance drug. McPherson was making $101,000 per year and was laid off shortly after complaining to upper management about sexual harassment in the office.

After being laid off McPherson was only able to find a job paying half of what she was earning at the County. The lawsuit not only alleged sexual harassment but also the creation of a hostile work environment. The details of this case really get weird. Then Planning Director Craig Ladiser allegedly exposed himself on a golf course to a female and he wasn't fired. McPherson claims this shows how the County feels about Ladiser and how they treat women.

"I have a marvelous job to go to. I can put this behind me. I couldn't be more delighted," McPherson said.
September 28, 2010

Roberts Truck Center Sued For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Roberts Truck Center is being sued for sexual harassment and retaliation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")on behalf of a class a female workers. According to published accounts of the sexual harassment, a co-worker employed by Roberts subjected Katherine Abernathy and a class of women, including at least three others, to sexual harassment. When the EEOC files a lawsuit based on a class of discriminated workers, there is usually a very good case. In this instance I believe this case is going to cost Roberts a great deal of money to settle.

Published documents allege the women were subjected to sexual comments, sexual innuendo and unwelcome touching of their bodies, which created a hostile work environment for them. Additionally, Abernathy suffered retaliation with respect to sales opportunities and in the terms and conditions of her employment because she opposed the sexual harassment. Abernathy was fired because she opposed the unlawful employment practices which is referred to as retaliation.

"Our investigation revealed that a co-worker of these women was permitted to harass them and Roberts Truck Center managers did not act promptly to provide corrective relief,” said EEOC attorney Rayford Irvin
September 26, 2010

IHOP Pays $105,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Two waitresses who were sexually harassed by a manager when they worked at the International House of Pancakes ("IHOP") were awarded $105,000 by a jury in their sexual harassment lawsuit. Both women were teenagers when they worked at IHOP and their manager Rosalio Gutierrez sexually harassed them. According to their testimony at trial both women complained about comments, touching and sexual propositions by the manager. Gutierrez has since left IHOP and his current occupation is not known.

The restaurant did nothing to Gutierrez and fired one of the females. This type of behavior is not only wrong but ended up costing the company a great deal of money. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the two females. This type of behavior also creates a hostile work environment for all employees.

September 23, 2010

Dentist Sued For Sexual Harassment

Smile Brands a dental company was sued for sexual harassment by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit two female employees were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment and to sexual harassment by the lead dentist David Mikitka. The lawsuit claims dental hygienist Deanna Chaney and dental assistant Jan Pawelek were subjected to unwanted sexual conduct shortly after they started working.

The sexual harassment included unwanted sexual comments, touching and making sexual comments about female patients. Pawelek and Chaney repeatedly told the dentist to stop his unwanted sexual behavior but he ignored their multiple requests. Once the dentist refused to stop the sexual harassment both women complained to management but management failed to conduct a proper investigation and to stop the harassment. This type of behavior is not appropriate in the workplace and will probably result in a settlement that will cost the dental company a substantial amount of money. Also the negative publicity will cost the dental company business as most females will not want to have their dental work performed in such an environment.

“A medical or dental office is a place where both employees and patients should feel safe from sexually-charged comments or assessments,” said EEOC Attorney Robert Canino
September 20, 2010

Sooner Copy Machines Pays $97,000 in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Joy Savoia won $97,000 this week from a federal jury in her sexual harassment, and hostile work environment lawsuit against Sooner Copy Machines Inc. and owner John Miller. According to published records, Savoia accused Miller of making repeated sexual advances to her at work. She only worked 13 days on the job, because she confronted Miller about his inappropriate actions. It turns out that was an expensive 13 days for Sooner Copy Machines.

Cases like this are usually supported with witnesses who can back up the statements of the person complaining of sexual harassment. In this case there were others who came forward and supported the claim. I hope Sooner Copy Machines learns a valuable lesson and puts better policies in place. I am sure they could have settled this case for less money before trial and should have.

"We established a pattern of behavior,” said attorney Gowens
September 17, 2010

Illinois Company Roadway Express Pays $10 Million To Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Roadway Express and YRC, Inc. will pay $10 million to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to details which have been published, the company subjected black employees at its Chicago Heights, Ill., and Elk Grove Village, Ill., facilities to a racially hostile working environment and racial discrimination in terms and conditions of employment. There seems to be an increase in discrimination cases in the Chicago area and in Illinois.

The EEOC claimed black employees were subjected to multiple incidents of hangman’s nooses, racist graffiti, racist comments, and racist cartoons. Additionally black employees were subjected to harsher discipline and scrutiny than their white counterparts. Discipline for employees should be the same and when an entire class of employees is disciplined differently, it usually means there is some discrimination taking place.

“No one should have to endure degrading racial harassment in order to earn a living,” said P. David Lopez, General Counsel of the EEOC.
September 14, 2010

Television Station Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

A gender discrimination and age discrimination lawsuit against television station KMBC has been settled. The lawsuit was filed by Kelly Eckerman, Peggy Breit and Maria Albisu-Twyman alleging a pattern of discrimination and harassment of veteran female reporters. According to documents filed in the lawsuit the station’s atmosphere has transformed over time, from one of cooperation into a hostile work environment, permeated with threats, intimidation and disrespect.

The lawsuit paints a pretty nasty picture for the work environment at KMBC. Another claim in the lawsuit was that even unaffected newsroom employees have commented about the publicly humiliating and degrading treatment of women over 40. Sounds like KMBC has a lot of work to do internally. It is unusual for a high profile television show to have these sorts of employment issues. The three woman in this case stood up for their rights and didn't back down to the big corporation. The details of the settlement are unknown but the woman continue to work at the station.

A statement issued by KMBC described the resolution as “amicable” and said that it had come “after some open and frank conversation” between the women and station management.
September 4, 2010

Chrysler Pipefitter Awarded $4.2 Million In National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit

A Rockford Illinois federal court jury found in favor of pipefitter Otto May and ordered Chrysler to pay $4.2 million to the 60-year-old. According to court testimony May endured years of harassment based on his national origin. The harassment included hateful graffiti and death threats over his Jewish and Cuban-American ethnicity. Additionally, May had his tires shredded in the parking lot by co-workers as part of the ongoing harassment. He was even denied the same overtime opportunities as other similarly situated employees.

The jury listened to the evidence for a week and awarded May $709,000 in compensatory damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages. It is nice to see someone stand up and fight back when they are being discriminated against at work. This type of discrimination at work creates a hostile work environment and makes it difficult to function.

Mr. May showed extraordinary courage and determination which paid off in the end. This case should act as a warning to companies who refuse to protect workers when they are being subjected to harassment of any kind. Congratulations Mr. May.

"I'm glad the jury believed me," said May


Continue reading "Chrysler Pipefitter Awarded $4.2 Million In National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit" »

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.”
July 29, 2010

ServiceMaster and Terminix International Sued For Sexual Harassment

Terminix International and Service Master are being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment. In addition to the claims of sexual harassment the EEOC is also alleging the companies subjected their employees to a hostile work environment. In the lawsuit it is alleged that Terminix and ServiceMaster permitted a class of female employees to be repeatedly sexually harassed by a supervisor. The sexual harassment included repeated sexual comments by a supervisor directed at a class of female employees. Lawsuits like this tend to settle for big amounts because of the number of people involved.

According to published accounts a supervisor suggested to the female employees that they come to work not wearing a top. The same supervisor told the women to wear nothing but Vaseline. When you make comments like that, it is hard to plan a good defense. This supervisor also made repeated comments to female employees telling them that they could be strippers and could give him lap dances.

“Employers who subject individuals to harassment based on sex are violating federal law,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC.
July 22, 2010

Construction Company Sued For Hostile Work Environment

Mike Enyart & Sons, a construction company is sued for racial discrimination and illegally firing an employee who complained about the conduct. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed the lawsuit on behalf of Mareo Allen an African-American. According to accounts that were published, Allen was subjected to a hostile work environment based on his race, when he worked for the company on a sewer line installation project. While working on that project co-workers and a foreman repeatedly used racially offensive slurs and epithets to Allen and other black persons, including n----r, black boy and colored boy.

The company failed to stop the discrimination and prevent the hostile work environment. In a crazy statement the company told Allen he could only stay employed if he agreed not to pursue his discrimination claims. When Allen refused to withdraw the discrimination claims, the company terminated him in retaliation for his opposition to the racial harassment.

“It is appalling that the company not only condoned the vile and offensive racial epithets made to Mr. Allen, but actually warned him that he had to drop his complaints about the racial harassment in order to keep his job,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence
June 25, 2010

Oak Tree Inn Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $75,000

Lodging Enterprises LLC of Arizona, which does business as Oak Tree Inn in Yuma, will pay $75,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawuist Oak Tree Inn threatened employees with reprisals of reducing their hours or otherwise forced them to engage in a particular religious prayer ceremony in spite of their personal different religious views. The defendant, through its general manager, Carlos Paredes, derided certain religious beliefs of some of the employees, the EEOC said. He also attempted to impose his personal religious beliefs on employees. The unlawful discrimination created a hostile work environment and denied employees reasonable accommodation for their religious beliefs.

The lawsuit involved twelve employees and they will all share in the settlement amount. Theresa Hurtado was one of the employees and she was one of the driving forces behind filing the discrimination complaint with the EEOC. There seems to be more employers engaging in crazy conduct in the workplace. I believe some of this may have to do with the bad economy and a feeling that employees will put up with any behavior to keep their jobs. Good for these twelve employees.

EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill said, “Employees have a right to their own religious beliefs or no religious beliefs. Employees should never be subjected unwillingly to a supervisor’s religious views."
June 22, 2010

Four Points Sheraton Sued For Discrimination Based On National Origin

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a lawsuit against the Four Points by Sheraton in Phoenix, of discriminating against an employee by subjecting him to a hostile work environment because of his Iraqi national origin. According to details of the lawsuit the man was subjected to continued and escalating workplace harassment and he was forced to resign as a result of the discriminatory conduct.

The employee Basil Massih was subjected to harassment which included mimicking Massih’s accent, ethnic slurs such as “camel jockey,” mocking Arab ululations, and taunting and jeering at Massih relating to news stories about Iraq and the capture of terrorists. The lawsuit alleges that Massih complained to a number of managers about the national origin harassment, but that management failed to take corrective action, and that the continued harassment resulted in intolerable working conditions for Massih.

“Employers have an affirmative duty to protect employees from discrimination and harass­ment,” said Mary Jo O’Neill EEOC attorney.“
June 16, 2010

Lumber Supplier Biewer Cutting More Than Wood: Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $55,000

Biewer sawmill will pay $55,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that took place as a result of inappropriate behavior at its Wisconsin sawmill. According to the lawsuit Biewer failed to prevent a sexually hostile work environment and sexual harassment. The sexual harassment occured to two female employees who will split the money. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")on behalf of the two women.

The lawsuit alleged a Biewer supervisor repeatedly exposed himself to female employees over several years. The company didn't fire the supervisor until prosecutors charged him with lewd and lascivious behavior. It is really crazy that the company would allow a man like this to continue working even after he behaved in this fashion. It took criminal charges to finally make the company see the light. It was good the female employees hung in there and fought for their rights.

June 13, 2010

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

My website lasorsalaw.com generates many inquires about sexual harassment cases in Illinois and throughout the country. Even though I have videos on the website to walk people through the steps of filing a lawsuit or complaint regarding sexual harassment, people still have many of the same questions. I hope to answer a few here with this general post. The first decision a person must make is whether to file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). With the IDHR, a person has 180 days from the date of the last sexual harassment to file a complaint, with the EEOC the person has 300 days to file a complaint of sexual harassment.

Another factor to consider is whether or not you wish to file a lawsuit in state court, federal court or have an administrative law judge at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") decide your case. Having the IHRC decide the case is the least expensive but may take the longest. Federal court is the quickest route to take but it is also the most difficult, expensive and employment law on the federal level favors employers in my opinion. It is important to discuss all options with attorney Peter LaSorsa and see which one works best for your situation. Sometimes the amount of time since the last date of sexual harassment will dictate which way to proceed. For example if you wait 200 days to contact my office, we will have no choice but to file with the EEOC.

Continue reading "Filing A Sexual Harassment Complaint With The Illinois Department of Human Rights" »

May 22, 2010

Cactus Grill Sued For Sexual Harassment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of Amanda Heschmeyer against Cactus Grill Inc. According to the lawsuit an assistant manager at the restaurant asked 18-year-old Heschmeyer for sex, touched her and made unwelcome sexual advances toward her. Those types of actions create a hostile work environment and because of that type of environment, Heschmeyer was forced to quit her job which is known as constructive discharge.

The assistant manager no longer works for Cactus Grill Inc. and that will be bad news for the Cactus. The reason it is bad news, is because since he no longer works for the company, he is in a position to tell the truth and not worry about losing his job, since he already lost it. Many times companies end up in a bad position because the person who did the sexual harassment gets terminated and becomes a good witness for the complainant.

“Sexual harassment in the workplace is always wrong, but harassment of teenage workers, who are often in their first ‘real’ job, is even more egregious,” said James Neely, EEOC district director.


May 21, 2010

Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders Sued For Sexual Harassment

Colleen Vesper filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Gary Moore and the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation. According to the lawsuit Moore and the Foundation made Vesper work in a hostile work environment after she refused Moore's sexual and romantic advances. Vesper had been the business manager of Fairmount Park until she lost her job last year. She claims the underlying sexual harassment issue led to the loss of her employment.

Prior to filing a lawsuit in either federal or state court, a person must first file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). It is nice to see people stand up and take a position and not let their bosses push them around. We wish Colleen Vesper the best.

April 12, 2010

Mayors Administrative Assistant Gets $50,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The administrative assistance to former Mayor Gary Becker’s will receive $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit she filed. According to the discrimination complaint she worked in a hostile work environment because of the sexual harassing nature of the comments and acts of the Mayor. She also claimed retaliation because she was terminated for filing a complaint about the sexual harassment.

The settlement amount includes $20,000 for compensatory damages, $5,000 for past wages and $25,000 for attorney fees. In cases like this, where one man has so much power, lawyers will often advice the party to settle. If this case were to go to trial and if the facts alleged were proven, the damages would easily be in the six figure range.

April 8, 2010

Male Deputy Awarded $350,000 In Sexual Harassment Case

Deputy Robert Lyznick was awarded $350,000 in his sexual harassment lawsuit after complaining that his male supervisor sexually harassed him for several months. In the lawsuit Lyznick sued the county and former Sgt. Charles Dery who was the supervisor of Lyznick. In a strange twist to the story, Dery countersued Lyznick and two others but he did not prevail in his lawsuit. Some of the allegations in the lawsuit include Dery asking Lyznick if he had ever engaged in oral sex with a man and told him to bend over for a rectal examination. This type of behavior would create a hostile work environment.

The final straw for Lyznick happened when he was getting dressed in the locker room and Dery slipped a finger into his underwear and touched the deputy's rear end. There were other officers who came forward and also complained about Dery and the Judge believed the testimony of them in this case. The sexual harassment lawsuit started in a wierd manner as it was originally a jury trial but both sides were having trouble picking a jury and agreed to have a bench trial and let the Judge decide the issue.

"He wanted to sue the county for money and get rid of Dery," The County's Attorney said.
April 4, 2010

Dona Ana County Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit for $150,000

Dona Ana County settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with five women for $150,000. The women sued the county under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 claiming they were subjected to a hostile work environment by the county. All of the women worked as custodians and had male supervisors who would allegedly make derogatory and sexual comments to the women. The women complained about the conduct of their supervisors and the discrimination continued.

The women first filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and then the EEOC referred to case to the United States Justice Department for investigation. You can see how much money agencies and companies have to pay because of the behavior of their workers when they act in such a foolish fashion. Until companies and organizations properly train their employees on what is acceptable behavior these types of cases will continue.

"It is critical that employers understand what constitutes sexual harassment, and that they take allegations of harassment seriously," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
March 30, 2010

IRS Agent Seeks $6 Million In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Sarah Klein, an Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") agent filed a sexual harassment lawsuit and is seeking $6 million. She claims her manager Richard Cook created a hostile work environment by making sexual advances toward her. She also alleges her manager suggested they share a hotel room at conferences, flirted with her and made sexual comments.

In her lawsuit she claims that she complained about Cook's behavior and the IRS answer was to transfer her. Instead of accepting the transfer she stayed put and was assigned to another manager. There was never any discipline to Cook and Klein believed she was not having her complaints taken seriously. This case shows that management would rather just shuffle the deck and hope things go away, rather than address the problem head on.

It is nice to see someone stand up for themselves and not let management push them around. Lets see if a jury things the IRS handled the situation properly.

March 16, 2010

Boeing Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $380,000

The Boeing Company will pay $380,000 to settle two lawsuits involving gender discrimination and retaliation. The lawsuits were filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two female engineers. In the first lawsuit Antonia Castron complained of gender discrimination based on sexist remarks which resulted in a hostile work environment. After she complained to management, she was moved to a new location and two months later she found herself without a job. The lawsuit filed by the EEOC alleges Boeing engaged in retaliation for terminating Castron.

In the second case Renee Wrede twice complained of gender discrimination and remarkably both times Boeing’s own investigators substantiated her complaints. This is the remarkable part of this case. Even though Boeing was able to agree that Wrede was suffering from gender discrimination, Boeing allowed her harassers to influence her layoff evaluations and reduce her scores. It should be no suprise that Wrede was also layed off. Even though Boeing tried to manipute evidence, the EEOC’s investigation proved Boeing manipulated evaluation scores in order to justify the terminations of Wrede and Castron. It is hard to believe corporations still behave like this.

“Covert attempts to mask discriminatory and retaliatory motives, such as Boeing employed, will fool no one.” said EEOC acting attorney Rayford Irvin.
February 28, 2010

EEOC Must Pay $4.5 Million In Sexual Harassment Case Gone Wrong

In Illinois if a person believes they have been subjected to sexual harassment then can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The following case illustrates one reason why I prefer to file a case with the IDHR as opposed to the EEOC. A federal judge ordered the EEOC to pay $4.56 million in attorneys' fees and expenses to a CRST after dismissing the EEOCs sexual harassment lawsuit. The EEOC filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against CRST on behalf of 270 female drivers. The drivers claim that CRST created a hostile work environment.

The problem for the EEOC was that a Judge ruled against the EEOC and in favor of CRST in a motion for summary judgment thereby dismissing the sexual harassment lawsuit. In federal court, a Judge can award attorney fees to a defendant who wins their motion for summary judgement thereby increasing the risk of litigation for a plaintiff. Another words, if you file a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court and it is dismissed prior to a jury trial, a Judge could make you pay the attorney fees of the defendant, which in this case were a little more than $4.5 million.

Victims of sexual harassment should consider this ruling before deciding to undertake a lawsuit in federal court because of the potential for paying the attorney fees of the defendant. In Chicago average attorney fees for employment lawyers defending companies can range from $250-$850 per hour.

"The EEOC believes the court's decisions in the case were wrongfully decided and the agency will be appealing," said EEOC Deputy General Counsel James Lee.
February 23, 2010

Wine Makers Squeezing More Than Grapes As Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Is Filed

A young 17 year old female farm worker filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against her employer Giumarra Vineyards Corp. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the young victim claiming a non-management worker made daily unwanted sexual advances to the alleged victim. According to the lawsuit, another employer made management aware of what was going on and management failed to stop it. The sexual harassment continued until the young woman and three others complainted directly to management but were terminated 24 hours later.

According to the lawsuit the company tolerated the alleged sexual harassment and thus created a hostile work environment. The company also engaged in retaliation by firing the workers once they complained of being sexually harassed. Some older workers will try to take advantage of younger workers and even think they can get away with sexually harassing them. In this case if the allegations are true the company did not do what it should have.

"Giumarra Vineyards denies the allegations in the complaint filed by the EEOC and will vigorously defend itself against all of the allegations. When this matter is concluded we are confident that our position will be affirmed." said a Guimarra Vineyards release


February 3, 2010

Gail Wilcox Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $180,000

Gail Wilcox who is the former Assistant County Administrator and she agreed to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit with her former employer for $180,000. The county claims that defending the county by going to trial would potentially cost more than $1 million. To date, the county has spent $337,000 on the case. That seems to be a very high amount and I wonder what the initial settlement demand was for.

Wilcox filed her lawsuit against county supervisors and former boss, David Edge, claiming she was a victim of sexual harassment, retaliation, a hostile work environment and breach of contract. Wilcox and Edge were placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. At the end of the investigation Edge was fired and the county hired an out-of-town attorney to investigate Wilcox. Following that investigation, the board fired Wilcox a mistake that cost over $500,000 when you include the attorney fees and settlement amount.

February 1, 2010

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit By Police Against City Settled for $405,000

The city of San Leandro settled 4 for their 7 sexual harassment disputes for $405,000. According to the settlement documents three former San Leandro police officers and a department clerk will receive a total of $405,000. Former Officers Taiwo Pena-Hornung, Christina Tiletile and Kamilah Jackson, and records clerk Amanda Kerr sued the city claiming they were sexually harassed, discriminated against for their gender and national origin, and retaliation.

The trouble isn't over for the city as three female officers still employed also have active lawsuits and their cases are set for trial in October. According to court documents the settlement breaks down as follows. Tiletile was awarded $295,000. Pena-Hornung $50,000, Kerr $35,000 and Jackson $25,000. Sgt. J. DeWayne Stancill was accused of sexual harassment and of creating a hostile work environment in the cases.

January 28, 2010

Adult Novelty Company Pays $500,000 in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Hightstown adult novelties company must pay $500,000 to Doreen Longa a former employee who was fired after complaining of sexual harassment. According to the lawsuit the adult company did not investigate the sexual harassment charges Longa lodged against a co-worker, and Longo was terminated when she complained that she was being retaliated against.

Longo filed a lawsuit based on sexual harassment, retaliation and a hostile work environment after being terminated. In the lawsuit Longo said her bosses ignored her repeated complaints of sexual harassment by a a co-worker and that he even threatened her with violence. Longo filed a formal complaint with managment and was immediately disciplined for poor work performance. Longa was terminated two months later after complaining about the retaliation that was taking place at work. Longa claims her boss told her the reason for the termination was her complaints about sexual harassment.

"The president of the company yelled and screamed at her and disciplined her for the first time in the four years she’d worked there. He accused her of saying bad things about the company.”

January 27, 2010

Monmouth County Employee Carol Melnick Awarded $470,000 in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Carol Melnick filed a lawsuit against the Monmouth County board in 2005 claiming discrimination based on gender, retaliation, hostile work environment and sexual harassment. The case was settled in 2007 for $470,000 but the details were sealed. In the latest development in the case the New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled the terms should be made public and thus the details were released.

Melnick remains employed by the county despite her award on the sexual harassment lawsuit. When you get a settlement for almost half a million dollars from a public entity, there must be good facts supporting the allegations. Both parties should keep in mind that when a settlement is reached involving a pubilc entity, the terms of the settlement will probably come out and not remain private. Unlike a private company, the public has a right to know how their money is being spent.

January 15, 2010

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Overture Center Settled

The city of Madison and the Overture Center have reached a tentative settlement in the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by receptionist Monica Everson. The exact terms of the agreement are not yet public. The allegations of the sexual harassment lawsuit include Eversons claims that her former boss and Overture director Robert D'Angelo physically and verbally sexually harassing her for more than ten years. D'Angelo no longer works for Overture as he retired after Everson filed her sexual harassment lawsuit ending as fifteen year career.

What probably prompted the settlement was the fact that U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb refused to dismiss the sexual harassment lawsuit, saying both sides had agreed that Everson provided "sufficient evidence to prove that D'Angelo's treatment of her in the 1990s created a ‘hostile work environment.'  The Judge went on to say that is was clear D'Angelo groped, fondled or otherwise inappropiately touched Everson more than 500 times over the course of her employment.

"It is unnecessary to recount all the acts that plaintiff alleges," the judge stated, "because it is clear that even a fraction of them would be sufficient to give rise to a federal claim."
January 14, 2010

Female Prison Guards Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $2.5 Million

Eightenn former prison guards settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $2.5 Million. The female prison guards allege they were subjected to sexually demeaning remarks in front of inmates which violated security and put their lives at risk. One female guard alleged a male guard suggested an inmate should have sex with her in an area of the prison not covered by security cameras. Other allegations are that the male guards would use the walkie-talkie system in a jamming fashion to prevent the female guards from asking for help.

It was further alleged that high ups in the prison system were trying to recruit the prison guards as prostitutes. This type of behavior by public officials is outragous and cannot be tolerated. In cases like this the females must come forward and fight for their rights. Employment cases involving sexual harassment and retaliation can be difficult to prove and it helps to have an experienced attorney involved early in the process.

“We had names and dates and places. Some women were asked to join in prostitution rings that were run by lieutenants, and that was substantiated because [one] lieutenant’s partner was arrested for running a prostitution ring,” by Hartford police, attorney Ponvert said.
January 13, 2010

Cadillac Dealer Pays $140,000 To Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Stokes-Hodges Chevrolet Cadillac will pay $140,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleged the car dealer allowed a white male management consultant to subject an African American sales manager to racially derogatory comments. The comments occured when the white consultant would visit the dealership three or four times a week over a four week period. As a result of the nasty comments, the African American sales manager was subjected to a hostile work environment.

The comments were humiliating and were always in the presence of other people. The sales manager complained to management about the derogatory comments and at one point two white managers asked the consultant to stop his discriminatory behavior. However the consultant ignored the requests of the white managers and continued to make the derogatory comments at every opportunity. Upper management did not force the consultant to stop his behavior and a lawsuit was filed to protect the rights of the African American employee.

“This is an outrageous case where an African American employee was subjected to humiliating and degrading behavior,” said Bernice Kimbrough, district director for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “
January 12, 2010

Crowell Pays $21,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Crowell will pay $21,500 to settle a sexual harassment and constructive discharge lawsuit filed on behalf of Deanna Collins by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to court papers Crowell Contract and Design, Inc. subjected Deanna Collins to a hostile work environment. The basis of the hostile work environment was when Timmy Christopher who is the president and co-owner of the company would tug on Collins’ pants and made multiple threats to Collins to pull down her pants.

In a remarkable act of stupidity, Christopher pulled Collins pants down in front of her co-workers which resulted in her great embarrassment and humiliation. Collins could no longer take this and other forms of sexual harassment and quit her position. A constructive discharge occurs when circumstances get so bad and a hostile work environment exists that forces an employee to quit; as it what happened here. It is not very often that a president of a company engages in such blatant sexual harassment and does so in front of witnesses.

“This settlement should serve as a notice to employers that the EEOC does not consider the threat or the act of pulling a woman’s pants down in the workplace to be a sophomoric prank,” said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office.

Continue reading "Crowell Pays $21,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit" »

January 10, 2010

Sims Chevrolet Settles Racial Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit For $85,000

Sims Chevrolet pays $85,000 settling a racial discrimination and retalia­tion lawsuit brought by five former employees. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the former employee. The allegations include that beginning in July 2007, Sims Chevrolet subjected a class of African Americans to different terms and conditions of employment on the basis of their race. Additionally this created a hostile work environment.

According to papers filed in the lawsuit the racial discrimination included racial epithets, such as repeated use of the N-word. Management also made decisions based upon the race of the employee and at one point the company engaged in retaliation against one employee after he complained about the racial discrimination.

EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence of the Philadelphia District Office, which oversees parts of Ohio, said, “This case of discrimination could have been avoided if the employer had followed Title VII requirements."
January 9, 2010

Auto Company Pays $1.505 Million to Settle Sexual Harassment, Gender and Age Discrimination Lawsuit With The EEOC

Arapahoe Motors, Inc. which does business as Ralph Schomp motors will pay $1.505 million to settle an age discrimination, sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of five women and five men. The women claim they were subjected to sexual harassment, gender discrimination and a hostile work environment while employed. Some of the conduct alleged in the lawsuit include offensive comments and physical touching. As a result of reporting this conduct and of refusing to participate in this type of behavior the women claim they were demoted and had their salaries reduced. Some claim they were not promoted because of gender discrimination.

On the age discrimination claim the EEOC claims five male employees over age 40 were terminated because of their ages and replaced with younger, less experienced workers. The lawsuit also claims that a manger under the age of 30 made age-related comments about the older workers before they were fired and in a move that makes no business sense, employees younger than 40 with lower sales numbers were retained.

“Sexual harassment and sex discrimination against women in traditionally male-dominated industries, such as the auto industry, are still unfortunate realities,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru."

Continue reading "Auto Company Pays $1.505 Million to Settle Sexual Harassment, Gender and Age Discrimination Lawsuit With The EEOC" »

January 1, 2010

Aaron Rentals Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With EEOC

Aaron Rental Inc. which operates more than 1500 stores nationwide settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").
According to the lawsuit a general manager of Aaron’s Fairview Heights, Illinois store made sexually explicit comments to a female employer. The young female employee was also solicited for sex on a regular basis by the general manager. The EEOC would not disclose the amount of the settlement which also provides what is known as remedial relief. Remedial relief usually includes training for management and the establishment of a hotline for reporting discrimination.

Also alleged by the EEOC is the manager repeatedly attempted to force the female employee to have sex with him and that the sexual harassment culminated when he assaulted her in the store’s warehouse. Many times older members of management prey upon young female workers because they believe the young workers will not know how to respond to the sexual harassment or will be too afraid to report it. Warehouses are usually isolated and there may not be witnesses around so they could become dangerous places. It is very important to let management know as soon as possible that you are being sexually harassed and seek the advice of an experienced sexual harassment attorney.

Continue reading "Aaron Rentals Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With EEOC" »

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.”

Continue reading "Car Dealer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $500,000" »

November 29, 2009

More Than Popcorn At This Movie Theatre

A national movie theater chain,Regal Entertainment Group, will pay $175,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") which alleged the company subjected a male employee to sexual harassment by a female co-worker. The lawsuit also alleged the company engaged in retaliation when he complained about the sexual harassment. The EEOC also alleged that as a result of the conduct a hostile work environment existed.

In its lawsuit it was alleged a female co-worker repeatedly grabbed a male workers crotch. The male employee asked the female to stop and when she would not he reported the sexual harassment to his direct supervisor. The direct supervisor then notified the general manager, and she failed to take action and the sexual harassment continued. Additionally the general manager retaliated against the male employee and two other supervisory employees who witnessed the sexual harassment. The retaliation took the form of unfair performance evaluations which were lower than they should have been, unwarranted discipline, and a level of scrutiny of daily job performance that was not warranted.

Continue reading "More Than Popcorn At This Movie Theatre" »

November 25, 2009

State Farm Sued For Sexual Harassment

Kristi Mitchell and Veronica Cobb both worders for State Farm insurance agent Obie Sorrell filed a lawsuit against him and the parent company alleging sexual harassment. The two women also are claiming a hostile work environment. Mitchell is the office office manager with over 7 years with the company while Cobb was hired as a customer service manager in May. State Farm in headquartered in Bloomington Illinois. With offices in Peoria and Chicago I see many cases like this were the boss creates a hostile work environment and the corporate office only cases about how it may affect them.

According to the lawsuit Sorrell repeatedly made vile comments to both women and called Cobb a "prostitute" and a "whore". Allegedly he said she was sleeping with policyholders. The lawsuit alleges that Sorrell would put his hands on both women even though they asked him to stop. Mitchell and Cobb complained to two State Farm officials, about Sorrell's alleged behavior, but nothing was done and the sexual harassment continued. The two women claim at one point State Farm executives apologized to them but were only interested in if the women were going to file a lawsuit.

When Cobb asked Sorrell not to call her a prostitute, according to the complaint, Sorrell replied, "This is my shop. My name is on the sign and if you don't like it you can get out."

Comments like that are a form of retaliation in Illinois. If a boss or management threatens a negative job action because you are trying to complain about sexual harassment or otherwise stop the sexual harassment you can file a claim with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

November 24, 2009

IHOP Pays $105,000 in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The International House of Pancakes ("IHOP") will pay $105,000 to two waitresses who were sexually harassed by an assistant manager.The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") handled the case on behalf of the two waitresses and a federal jury awarded them $105,000 at the conclusion of the trial. Both waitresses were teenagers when they worked for IHOP, and according to testimony at trial were subjected to unwelcome physical touching, propositions for sex and sexual comments. This behavior created a hostile work environment. Additionally one of the waitresses alleged retaliation because she refused to the sexual advances.

Other waitresses said they faced sexual harassment and reported that IHOP, did not correct the situation. The assistant manager accused of the sexual harassment quit for unexplained reasons, at the time the investigation started. One waitress could have received more money but jurors were presented with evidence of her MySpace page, with links to sexually-charged materials. You can see how important it is to not have that type of material on the Internet. The second waitress who didn't have that type of material on the Internet was awarded $100,000 in punitive damages.

It is clear the jury was "outraged" by the way the company handled the situation, Jean Kamp, associate regional attorney for the EEOC Chicago District Office said.

Continue reading "IHOP Pays $105,000 in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit" »

November 19, 2009

Your Email History May Hurt Your Sexual Harassment Case

In a recent case, Seybert v. International Group Inc, email was used by the defense to show that the plaintiff in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit would not have been as offended by the conduct of the defendant as she claims. The jury said, plaintiff Susan Seybert was not sexually harassed by her supervisor, Brett Marchand, and there was no retaliation aginst Seybert once she complained to management.

What happend in this case is the defense utilized emails of a sexual nature that Seybert sent to other individuals which showed things of a sexual nature did not offend her. According to the lawsuit, the emails used sexual words, metaphors, puns and other innuendo to amuse, entertain and convey various humorous messages. In lawsuits involving sexual harassment a plaintiff must satisfy both an objective and a subjective test when alleging a hostile work environment. It is very important to utilize your company email for business only and to be aware that the company can get into your computer and retreive even deleted emails.

At trial the defense used a e-mail which showed a photo of a naked man in a Santa hat, lying on his belly, with a caption that told the recipient to turn him over to get at the "present."

Continue reading "Your Email History May Hurt Your Sexual Harassment Case" »

November 18, 2009

Tavern On The Green Pays $2.2 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and legendary restaurant Tavern on the Green settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $2.2 million. According to the lawsuit there were claims of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment and retaliation. The alleged sexual harassment included groping female staff members, demands for sex and sexual favors and the regular use of graphic sexual comments.

As is typical in these types of settlements the Tavern on the Green denied any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. The managers accused of engaging in severe and pervasive sexual harassment, and retaliation are not longer working for the restaurant. Most of the sexual harassment came from one long-time manager who has since left the restaurant. You can see how expensive the conduct of one manager can be to a business.

November 15, 2009

Woman Awarded $2.5 Million in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

The Fresno city's fire department discriminated against one of its recruits because she was a woman and as a result a jury awarded Michelle Maher nearly $2.5 million in her gender discrimination lawsuit. Maher alleged she was a victim of gender discrimination and a hostile work environment when she was forced out of a Fresno fire department training class. A hostile work environment exists when an employee is treated different because of some discriminatory conduct and the treatment results in an adverse employment decision.

According to evidence presented during the federal trial Maher was intentionally forced out of the training class even though some male recruits with lower test scores remained in the training class. Many times gender discrimination is proved by comparing similarly situation males and females to see that one gender is not being fairly treated. It is rare that managers or executives come right out and send a memo not to hire females or to drop them from training because of their gender.

"It's just overwhelming to think that it's over," Maher said after the verdict.


Continue reading "Woman Awarded $2.5 Million in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit" »

November 3, 2009

Ruby Tuesday Dishes Out More Than Food and Pays $225,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Six employees of Ruby Tuesday settled their sexual harassment lawsuit for a total of $225,00 which was broken down as follows: Michelle Gydosh, $101,000, Melissa Johnson, $32,000,
Rosemary Singer, $57,000, Dawn Kovacs, $60,000 and Nicole Wallace, $5,000. According to the lawsuit General Manager Christopher Mendoza made sexually charged remarks to adult and teen female employees. Sometimes he also remarked about customers.

Former Ruby Tuesday waitress Michelle Gydosh complained that the sexually harassing environment was so intolerable that she was unable to continue working there. Five co-workers joined Gydosh in the lawsuit, with each woman making similar claims. Gydosh said that from August 2006 onward, Mendoza repeatedly made embarrassing sexual remarks about her body, such as "your breasts look good today" or "your breasts look really nice."

According to the complaint, Mendoza constantly told Gydosh that she was "hot" and that he wanted to "make a porn video" with her.

In June 2007, Gydosh became ill during her shift and a co-worker asked Mendoza if Gydosh could go home. "All she needs is a good (expletive) up her (expletive), and I'd be good for that," Mendoza replied, according to the complaint. Disgusted, Gydosh left the restaurant and submitted a written complaint through Ruby Tuesday's complaint hotline. Gydosh also complained directly to Krista Williams, regional service manager, and to Jim James, district manager. In all instances Ruby Tuesday was put on notice of the sexual harassment and hostile work environment and did nothing to stop it.

Continue reading "Ruby Tuesday Dishes Out More Than Food and Pays $225,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit" »

October 27, 2009

Prison Pays $1.3 Million to Settle Sexual Harassment Case

Dominion Correctional Services, LLC and Corrections Corporation of America, both doing business as Crowley County Correctional Facility, paid $1.3 million and other significant remedial relief to settle a large sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of 21 female former workers. The workers were allegedly subjected to a gender based hostile work environment and retaliation at an all-male, privately run medium security prison in Olney Springs, Colo.

According to the lawsuit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleged female employees at the prison were subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment that included male managers forcing them to perform sex acts in order to keep their jobs. This adds new meaning to the idea of working hard to get ahead. According to the lawsuit a female officer made a complaint of sexual harassment against a male coworker, and was then placed in an isolated location, where she was raped by the man about whom she had complained.

Another shocking allegation is that the Chief of Security forced a female corrections officer to have intercourse with him, which she did in order to keep her job. Other male managers similarly expected their female subordinates to provide sexual favors. A female corrections officer was coerced first into performing oral sex, and later intercourse, with a male captain, for fear of losing her job. Another female officer testified that a male lieutenant regularly made comments to her about how she looked and commented that he could do a lot better than her husband. He then allegedly told her that if she wanted to keep her job she needed to sleep with him. She resigned.

"We at the EEOC see an unfortunately high number of sexual harassment cases, but what allegedly happened here was shocking,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “No working woman should ever have to endure harassment and requests for sexual favors by managers in order to earn a paycheck – or suffer retaliation for complaining about the illegal harassment.”

Continue reading "Prison Pays $1.3 Million to Settle Sexual Harassment Case" »

October 25, 2009

Staffing Firms Adecco Sued For Sexual Harassment

Adecco a staffing firm was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")after it failed to take appropriate action when female employees complained about sexual harassment at a client site. According to the lawsuit another employee was compelled to quit because of ongoing sexual harassment. Adecco continued to assign women to the plant despite the sexually hostile work environment, according to the lawsuit.

The EEOC reported that Adecco assigned Veronica Jalpa and other women to Pittsburgh Plastics Manufacturing Inc. in Butler, Pennsylvania, and that a Pittsburgh Plastics supervisor sexually harassed them through sexual comments and touching. The EEOC said Jalpa asked for a different shift to avoid the supervisor but was fired by Adecco.

“Adecco has fully cooperated with the EEOC and we are disappointed that it has decided to take this course of action given the information that was made available to the agency,” Adecco wrote.


Continue reading "Staffing Firms Adecco Sued For Sexual Harassment" »

October 18, 2009

Country Inn Sued By EEOC For Sexual Harassment

The Country Inn hotel is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment. The EEOC alleges the hotel’s management condoned the sexual harassment of several female employees and penalized the women when they complained about the hostile work environment. According to the lawsuit Candace Bland and other female servers including those under 18 were subjected to pervasive sexual harassment by two male coworkers.

According to allegations in the lawsuit, one man dropped his pants in front of the female employees and both male employees repeatedly engaged in offensive and unwelcome touching of female employees, including grabbing their breasts, “humping” against the women, slapping their buttocks and kissing them. Both men also made repeated requests for dates and persistent use of offensive and demeaning language towards the women.

Despite complaints by Bland and other women to the owner and other managers, the employer failed to take prompt measures to stop the harassment and after Bland filed a complaint with the EEOC her hours were cut and she was removed from work for a week. Other women who complained about the hostile work environment also had their hours reduced or the terms of their employment altered. In Illinois this type of conduct is called retaliation.

“It is unacceptable for an employer to punish employees who complain about sexual harassment by reducing their work hours and thereby reducing their income. Retaliation like this has a chilling effect on those who choose to exercise their federally protected rights and is blatantly illegal,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence.
October 15, 2009

Halliburton Employee Sues For Sexual Harassment

Halliburton employee Catarina Rose claims she was subjected to sexual harassment, and a hostile work environment and after reporting a sexual assault--retaliation. According to her lawsuit, Rose was subjected to egregious sexual harassment and intimidation by male coworkers and supervisors, including a sexual assault by a male co-worker.

Once Rose reported the sexual harassment she claims Halliburton management told her "I'll make it so hard on you out here that you'll quit," and "no one asked you to be here so deal with it," along with several other degrading and explicit proposals. Rose states she was forced to use her vacation time for the psychiatric evaluation that was required for her to return to work. The employee who committed the act was disciplined but allowed to return to work after a few days.


Continue reading "Halliburton Employee Sues For Sexual Harassment" »

October 3, 2009

Can You Say McSexual Harassment?

McDonalds is being sued for sexual harassement by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit McDonalds failed to stop sexual harassment of male employees by a female supervisor at a restaurant in New Jersey. The EEOC claims Mcdonalds engaged in unlawful employment practices based on sexual harassment and created a hostile work environment.

The EEOC claims the underage workers were subjected to unwelcome comments about their appearance by an assistant manager. McDonald’s allowed the supervisor to physically grab, touch, spank, hug, and pinch male employees without their consent because of their gender. In situations where minors work with adults there is also an extra burden on the employer to make sure the adults who are in management positions are not doing anything inappropriate to the minor workers.

“McDonald’s failed to take sufficient action to remedy or prevent sexual harassment of its employees,” according to the complaint. The unlawful employment practices were intentional and “done with malice or with reckless indifference to the federally protected rights of Charging Party.”


Continue reading "Can You Say McSexual Harassment?" »

September 29, 2009

EEOC Files Lawsuit Against Hilton Hotels Chicago For Hostile Work Environment

Hilton Hotels in Chicago was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging the hotel violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting its Hispanic employees to a hostile work environment. The hostile work environment came in the form of subjecting the Hispanic workers to frequent ethnic slurs from the hotel’s executive chef. The slurs included referring to Hispanic employees under the chef's supervision as wetbacks, stupid Mexicans and f**cking Mexicans.

In cases like this the EEOC will first try to negotiate a settlement between the parties and if unsuccessful will then file a lawsuit if the facts support it. In a down economy like we presently have, many employees will look the other way or put up with this type of discriminatory conduct because they are afraid of losing their job. It takes guts to come forward and file a complaint to protect your rights. Another option for the two workers would have been to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR would automatically cross file the complaint with the EEOC. I prefer the IDHR venue because they seem better staffed to investigate claims and I prefer to stay in the state system.

“Employees should never have to put up with such humiliation and ridicule on the job,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru.

Continue reading "EEOC Files Lawsuit Against Hilton Hotels Chicago For Hostile Work Environment" »

September 27, 2009

Starbucks Sued For Sexual Harassment

A 29-year-old former starbucks employee filed a sexual harassment lawsuit alleging that young male co-workers consistently sexually harassed her by putting bananas between their legs as well as placing them in napkin dispensers. The woman alleges in her lawsuit that the males also wrote in the bathrooms using bananas as phallic symbols with one directed at her and inscribed with a particularly offensive remark.

The behavior began in 2008 when the store began selling fruit smoothies. The woman was also the victim of a sexual assault that same year. According to the lawsuit the sexual harassment was reported on many occasions but management failed to take any action or to stop the sexual harassment from continuing. The woman quit in November 2008 because she could no longer tolerate the hostile work environment. In a statement Starbucks claims it has a policy that strictly prohibits discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace.


Continue reading "Starbucks Sued For Sexual Harassment" »

September 23, 2009

EEOC Files Sexual Harassment and National Origin Lawsuit Against Knouse Foods Cooperative

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a lawsuit against Knouse Foods Cooperative, Inc. alleging that female farmworkers were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment by male coworkers at its processing plant. According to the lawsuit the men engaged in sexual harassment by asking female employees to show their breasts, asking the females out on dates for sex and making other sexual advances to female employees. This type of behavior in the work place seems to be getting more common place and employees have to stand up and hire an attorney to protect their rights.

The lawsuit also alleges the women were subjected to discrimination because of their Mexican national origin. The Mexican women had things thrown at them and they were called derogatory terms such as “dumb Mexican” or “stupid Mexican.” The women complained about the sexual harassment and national origin discrimination to supervisors and managers, but Knouse Foods failed to take prompt and effective action to stop the harassment. The harassment and discrimination only go worse after the women complained.

“This is another tragic example of an employer failing to stop cruel, humiliating, and illegal victimization of vulnerable employees,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru.

Continue reading "EEOC Files Sexual Harassment and National Origin Lawsuit Against Knouse Foods Cooperative" »

September 18, 2009

New Illinois Law Takes Affect January 1, 2010 Adding Additional Discrimination Protections

The Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA") also known as, 775 ILCS 5/1-101 will now offer protection to individuals who have an order of protection. Starting at the first of the year it will be considered unlawful discrimination, based on order of protection status, to take any negative job action on an individual if they have an order of protection and there is no legitimate business reason for the negative job action.

This new law adds order of protection status to the current protected classifications of religion, age, race, national origin, gender, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, military status, and unfavorable discharge from military service. The initial charge would be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights in either Chicago or Springfield.

Continue reading "New Illinois Law Takes Affect January 1, 2010 Adding Additional Discrimination Protections" »

September 16, 2009

Dollar General Sued For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Dolgencorp LLC, which does business as Dollar General is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment and retaliation. The lawsuit states that from at February 2005 through May 2006, Amanda Tittle Strickland, Maria Kinley Strickland, Tina Baxley and other similarly situated female employees were subjected to sexual harassment by Dollar General. The women were sexually harassed by a male store manager with crude and offensive sexual comments, unwelcome touching of the women's buttocks and breasts and request for sex.

All of the women complained about the sexual harassment. The company failed to take appropriate action to stop the sexual harassment and retaliated against the women. Strickland had to quit her job to escape the harassment. The EEOC is asking for an injunction to stop Dollar General from engaging in discriminatory employment practices. The women are seeking monetary damages.

Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office, said, "In this case, Dollar General had a policy prohibiting sexual harassment. However, the evidence obtained by the EEOC indicates that despite the policy, a member of Dollar General's management created the sexually hostile work environment for the female employees and other managers knew about it but took no action to stop it.

Continue reading "Dollar General Sued For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation" »

August 27, 2009

William Lott Files Lawsuit In Chicago Against Kenny Construction For Sexual Harassment

An Information Technology analyst for Kenny Construction filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against his female boss in cook county. A copy of the lawsuit is here:Lott Complaint
Lott who is also African-American alleges his white female boss discriminated against him because of his race, also known as racial discrimination. According to the complaint, the female boss, Laura Manaugh was the IT Manager and said the following to Lott: "I love you", Managers and employees end up sleeping together because of the vibe of the working relationship", "You remind me of my husband, he is so good in bed", and "Woman are in control because we have the pussy."

According to the complaint Lott complained about the sexual harassment to human resources and nothing was done to stop the behavior. In fact according to Lott, the workplace became a hostile working environment after he reported the offensive behavior. Lott is seeking damages in excess of $50,000.

August 11, 2009

Mason City Iowa Settles Gender and Age Discrimination Lawsuit

The Mason City Council reached a settlement on an age discrimination and gender discrimination lawsuit but did not disclose how much it will cost the taxpayers. Pat Gansen, 57, a city animal-control officer for eleven years and city employee for seventeen years alleges she was denied a job promotion because of age and gender discrimination. Gansen filed her lawsuit in June 2008, claiming the city permitted gender and age discrimination and harassment, and retaliated against her complaints by failing to promote her.

Gansen also alleged discrimination based on pay and benefits, and that she was denied her equal protection under the law by denying her equal pay-a violation of the civil rights act of 1964. Defendants in the lawsuit were the city, chief building official Chuck McGreevey, city engineer Mark Rahm and human resources director Tom Meyer, who is also the city attorney.

August 10, 2009

EEOC Files National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit Against Sahara Casino

The Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas violated federal law by creating a hostile work environment for Ezzat Elias an Egyptian kitchen employee through a daily barrage of derogatory comments due to his national origin and retaliating against him when he reported it according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit Sahara's supervisors and coworkers continuously belittled and harassed Elias, whose job was delivering food from the kitchen to the hotel buffet and maintaining the buffet, because of his Egyptian heritage.

The harassment included offensive comments, slurs, and graffiti, such as being called “Bin Laden,” “Taliban,” and “f ____ Egyptian” and being told to “go back to Egypt.” Elias was also targeted with graffiti, which he was then required to wash off. Despite Elias’s repeated complaints of such harassment, the defendants failed to take effective measures to stop it. Instead, supervisors retaliated against him, which included disciplinary write-ups and suspension. Retaliation occurs when an employee complains about being discriminated against and supervisors do nothing about it and in fact either encourage the discriminatory behavior or punish the employee for reporting the discriminatory conduct.

National origin discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for Elias, as well as injunctive relief to prevent such discrimination in the future.

"There is no excuse for such blatant and abusive behavior targeting workers on the basis of their national origin,” said EEOC Las Vegas Local Director Lucy Orta. “Employers must train their managers and frontline supervisors to prevent discrimination and to take prompt and effective action against harassment when it occurs."
July 30, 2009

EEOC Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Luby's Restaurant For $135,000

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against Luby’s Restaurants Limited Partnership, doing business as Luby’s San Antonio #19 (Luby’s), for $135,000 and significant remedial relief on behalf of a class of female workers who were subjected to a pervasive sexually hostile work environment for years.

The lawsuit alleged Luby’s with subjected female employees, including a teenager, to a sexually hostile work environment at its Floyd Curl Ave., San Antonio location. Specifically, the EEOC said that the women were subjected to, among other things, repeated unwelcome sexual touching, numerous sexual comments, as well as gestures and innuendo. The sexual harassment, which was allowed to continue for at least four years, also included a work atmosphere permeated with lewd and sexually offensive behavior, including restraining one woman in the women’s restroom while requesting sexual favors from her. Additionally, one of the female employees was forced to quit her job because Luby’s failed to take appropriate action to address the harassment.

EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor added, “Sexual harassment affects far too many workers in the service industries, but especially teenagers who feel they have no recourse and are especially vulnerable because of their age and inexperience. Every employer has a duty to protect its workforce from harassment.”

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which also prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, or national origin, and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation.


Continue reading "EEOC Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Luby's Restaurant For $135,000" »

July 27, 2009

Maryland Board of Public Works Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $65,000

The Board of Public Works settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $65,000 with an employee in the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.The employee alleged she was subjected to, sexual harassment, gender discrimination and a hostile work environment by the conduct of at least nine of her male co-workers while she was employed in the maintenance shop at the Baltimore City Detention Center from July of 2004 until May of 2007.

A hostile work environment exists when an employee experiences workplace harassment and fears going to work because of the offensive, intimidating, or oppressive atmosphere generated by the harasser based sexual harassment or gender discrimination among other things. As part of the settlement, the woman, who still works for the department, has agreed to dismiss her case with prejudice and release all claims against the department and the state of Maryland.

In Illinois, an employer may not terminate or otherwise take an adverse job action against an employee because of the gender of the employee. The policies and employment rules must be applied equally to all employees. Policies and employment rules which have a disproportionately adverse impact on one gender are strictly prohibited under both Illinois and Federal law.

July 21, 2009

Female Hard Hat Hits Glass Ceiling and Files $20 Million Dollar Lawsuit

Hardhat Bianca Wisniewski broke through the construction industry's glass ceiling and hit the concrete wall of sexual harassment. Wisniewski sued JPMorgan Chase, Total Safety Consulting and others in Manhattan Supreme Court for a harassment campaign she says began when she took over as safety coordinator at the company's 270 Park Ave. construction site in 2007. Following a period on disability, Wisniewski was fired from her job with Total Safety Consulting of Long Island City, Queens after complaining of the sexual harassment. This constitutes retaliation.

Wisniewski alleges elevator operator Steve Greco groped and propositioned her while her bosses brushed off her claims. According to the lawsuit, Greco harassed Wisniewski with lewd come-ons that repulsed the widowed mother of two teenage daughters. According to the Daily News Wisnieski said Greco made the following statements to her.

"I just want to take you to dinner, no f------," she says Greco told her while grabbing her around the waist.
"Everybody kisses engineer Steve," the suit quotes Greco as boasting. "This is a man's world, not a place for women to work."

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. The Commission also found numerous obstacles regarding the advancement of women in business, including inadequate outreach and recruitment practices, lack of mentoring opportunities and the placement of women in positions within corporations where they are less likely to gain the necessary experience and contacts for future advancement.

Continue reading "Female Hard Hat Hits Glass Ceiling and Files $20 Million Dollar Lawsuit" »

July 20, 2009

United Healthcare Sued For Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Laura Valenziano an 18 year employee of United Healtcare filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") against United Healtcare alleging they discriminated against her based on her sexual orientation and also that they retaliated against her for reporting the discriminatory conduct of her manager. It all started when Valenziano received a new manager and met the manager in person. The new manager began to make inquiries into Valenziano's personal life and ask about her female partner. After these non-job related inquires, Valenziano began to be treated different.

As reported in the Windy City Times, "within two weeks of the performance review, Valenziano was put on corrective action, which meant that she had 30 days to improve whatever had been listed on her evaluation as poor or she faced termination. The mention of a demotion was removed from the copy of the evaluation she received after protesting the corrective action." This is usually how discrimination in the workplace happens. The manager will start to put the employee on some sort of "corrective action" or "improvement plan", shortly after the employee complains about discriminatory conduct.

“It was one of the worst performance evaluations I've ever had. Along with that I received the largest bonus I've ever received,” said Valenziano. “The evaluation mentioned my devotion to the job.”

Continue reading "United Healthcare Sued For Sexual Orientation Discrimination" »

July 19, 2009

Morristown Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For Almost $1 Million

Morristown information technology specialist Ann Marie Spagnola alleged her boss, Eric Maurer, subjected her to sexual harassment by exposing her to sexually explicit materials. She alleges was called into his office to remove a sexually explicit screen saver from his computer and when she reported this and other conduct to Morristown Mayor John Delaney, he responded angrily each time. As a result of this action Spagnola submitted her resignation. Spagnola alleges there was a hostile work environement and retaliation as a result of nothing being done after she made her complaint.

After depositions were taken in the case it became obvious Morristown did not have a sexual harassment policy and that Spagnola had in fact been harassed and reported the harassment to the appropriate authority. Now eight years after Spagnola filed her first complaint and five years after she resigned, the parties settled for $981,990.

July 17, 2009

Michigan Settles Prison Sexual Harassment Lawsuits For $100 Million

Michigan will pay $100 million to settle a class-action sexual harassment lawsuit by more than 500 female inmates who claimed they were sexually assaulted, abused and harassed by male corrections staff. The lawsuit involving Scott Correctional Facility was filed in 1996 but tied up in the courts for years. Evidence in the 2008 trial showed a sexually hostile atmosphere in which women were groped, raped and subjected to inappropriate searches and other harassment by guards.

A jury in 2008 awarded 10 female inmates $15.5 million for abuse they suffered at the hands of male staff at Scott Correctional Facility in Plymouth. A second jury awarded more than $8 million to female inmates at another facility.

"It does not constitute an admission of liability, but a compromise of the disputed claims," Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said.
Whow, the State of Michigan pays $100 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit and it claims it is not admitting liability? Are you kidding? How much would it pay if it thought it were liable? Why can't they come out and say we screwed up, we are going to pay a huge amount of money to make things right and move on with running the prison properly.


July 4, 2009

EEOC Files National Origin Lawsuit Against Simon Property Group

Simon Property Group, Inc., a nationwide commercial property management company, violated federal law by subjecting Hispanic employees to national origin discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") charges in a lawsuit. Simon Property Group owns and/or manages various shopping malls throughout the country, including the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, where the EEOC said the discriminatory acts took place.

According to the lawsuit, a class of Hispanic housekeepers were subjected to a hostile work environment while performing custodial and janitorial duties at the Forum Shops. The harass­ment began in 2005, when the housekeeping shift lead was hired, and ended when he was terminated for reasons related to the harassment. The housekeeping shift lead referred to housekeepers and other Latino employees as “wetbacks,” “tacos,” and “burritos” and repeatedly told them to “go back to Mexico” – among other things. He also told the Latinos that Mexicans have “inferior intelligence and capability in comparison to whites, and that is why whites are in power.”

EEOC Regional Attorney Anna Park of the Los Angeles District Office, which has jurisdiction for southern Nevada, said, “The abuse of Latino workers will not be tolerated by the EEOC.

Continue reading "EEOC Files National Origin Lawsuit Against Simon Property Group " »

June 30, 2009

SkyWest Airlines Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Going To Trial

United States District Judge Anderson ruled that a series of sexually offensive comments made to three women employed by SkyWest Airlines, Inc., as alleged by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in a lawsuit could constitute actionable sexual harassment. SkyWest filed a Motion for Summary Judgment which was rejected by the Court. In denying defendant SkyWest's motion for summary judgment, the court said that a reasonable jury "could find the comments to be 'uninvited sexual solicitations' and 'obscene language' rather than merely vulgar banter."

In its lawsuit EEOC v. SkyWest Airlines, Inc., N.D. Ill. No 07 C 4925, the EEOC alleges that SkyWest discriminated against three former employees by subjecting them to sexual harassment by a co-worker and then firing them in retaliation for complaining about the hostile work environment, all in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The court noted that between six and eight offensive remarks were made to each of the women and included the speaker's statements,

"that he wished he could put his mouth on her breasts" and "that he wanted to have sex with her and get between her thighs."
The court concluded,
"We find that a reasonable fact finder could find that these comments to be severe enough to constitute 'uninvited sexual solicitations' and 'obscene language,' rather than merely vulgar banter."

Continue reading "SkyWest Airlines Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Going To Trial" »

June 28, 2009

United States Supreme Court Gives Union Workers The Shaft

The United States Supreme Court in 14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett, 129 S. Ct. 1456 (2009) by a 5-4 vote held that a provision in a collective bargaining agreement ("Agreement") which clearly and unmistakeably requires employees to arbitrate their statutory discrimination claims is enforceable and precludes employees from asserting their statutory claims in state or federal courts. In laymans terms what this means is that if you are in a union and through bargaining the union agrees to settle all employment claims through arbitration, your sole remedy as a union employee is to arbitrate the claim. You will be forever barred from filing a claim in any federal or state court.

This decision does not affect employees who are not in a union as they have not bargained through their representatives the terms of their employment. The types of claims involved could include sexual harassment, gender discrimination, age discrimination, racial discrimination. Americans with Disabilities, age discrimination, religious discrimination, retaliation claims and sexual orientations claims.

The Court did hold that the Agreement to arbitrate must be "clear and unmistakable". One issue the Court did not address is what happens if the Union does not take the employees claim to arbitration? There are two ways to interpert the Court's decision in Pyett, one the employee would have no further remedy or in that case the employee court take the case to state or federal court, however the latter seems less likely under Pyett.

June 24, 2009

Vail Corporation Pays $80,000 To Settle Religious and Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

The Vail Corporation operators of ski resorts in Vail and Keystone, Colo., will pay $80,000 and furnish other relief to settle a religious and gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

According to the lawsuit, EEOC v. The Vail Corporation, 07-cv-02035-REB-KLM, Lisa Marie Cornwell, an emergency services supervisor at the Keystone Resort, was subjected to harassment based on her Christian religion and her gender, denied religious accommodation and treated less favorably than her male colleagues. The EEOC said that Cornwell’s supervisor, Rick Garcia, forbade her and another Christian employee from even discussing their Christian beliefs with one another while at work, and would not allow them to listen to Christian music while on duty, because it might offend other employees, but had no similar restrictions on music with profanity or lyrics promoting violence against women, which were offensive to Cornwell.

EEOC Denver Field Director Nancy Sienko added, “Claims of religious discrimination have increased by more than 80 percent in the last ten years.

Additionally, according to the EEOC, Garcia ridiculed Cornwell for asking for scheduling accommodation so that she could attend her preferred religious services, and denied her requests while scheduling lower ranking officers for the shifts she requested. Also, Garcia created and tolerated a hostile work environment where he and other male employees made offensive sexual comments and jokes in the workplace and subjected Cornwell to sexual harassment, the EEOC alleged.

Cornwell complained to various Keystone managers and human resource staff about the harassment and being scheduled to miss her religious services on Sundays, but no action was taken to resolve the problems. EEOC alleged that Cornwell was fired in retaliation for her last complaint, made less than ten days before her termination.

Continue reading "Vail Corporation Pays $80,000 To Settle Religious and Gender Discrimination Lawsuit" »

June 23, 2009

Hickory Hills Country Club To Pay $690,000 To Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment, Retaliation and Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Federal District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer entered a consent decree resolving two lawsuits against Chateau Del Mar, Inc. and Hickory Properties, Inc., known as Hickory Hills Country Club. Under the decree, the defendants are required pay $590,000, including attorneys’ fees, to a class of women who endured a sexually hostile work environment and retaliation, and, in addition, up to another $100,000 to African American applicants who were denied hire because of their race, also known as racial discrimination.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") lawsuit, filed on March 25, 2008 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 alleged that the principal and manager of the facility sexually harassed a class of women employees over a period of years and refused to hire African American applicants. Female employees were called derogatory names and belittled as well as enduring sexual advances and, in some instances, physical assaults.

Shortly after three of the women filed their own private federal lawsuit for sexual harassment on October 24, 2007 (captioned Curry, Knable, & Raddatz v. Chateau Del Mar, Inc., Steven Gianakas, and Hickory Properties, Inc., No. 07 C 6021), Chateau Del Mar and Steven Gianakas sued them in Illinois state court. Their seven-count complaint alleged a wide variety of claimed wrongs, including, but not limited to, physical and mental injuries, “tripping and pushing Gianakas,” breach of fiduciary duty, and destroying property. (Chateau Del Mar and Steven P. Gianakas v. Knable, et al, Circuit Court of Cook County No. 2007L012463.)

“This serious and ongoing harassment of women was unconscionable enough. Then these defendants made a bad situation worse by punishing the victims for engaging in protected activity,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “This kind of retaliation is plainly illegal, even if it is cleverly disguised as a supposedly legitimate lawsuit.”

An EEOC investigation determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that the women were sued because they exercised their federally protected rights to protest discrimination. The circuit court of Cook County dismissed the lawsuit Chateau Del Mar and Gianakas had filed. Thereafter, the EEOC filed a second lawsuit on September 22, 2008 against Chateau Del Mar for retaliation. The three individual private plaintiffs intervened in the EEOC’s retaliation case, and all three suits were docketed as related cases before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer.

Continue reading "Hickory Hills Country Club To Pay $690,000 To Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment, Retaliation and Racial Discrimination Lawsuit" »

June 16, 2009

Schott North America Must Pay $1.45 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") settled a gender discrimination lawsuit for $1.45 millinois and significant equitable relief against Schott North America, a multinational developer and manufacturer of special glass and specialty materials, components and systems, based in Elmsford, N.Y. In addition to the $1.45 million in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree provides substantial equitable relief, including: injunctive relief enjoining Schott from engaging in unlawful discrimination under Title VII or retaliation; annual anti-discrimination training of all supervisors and managers at the Duryea, Pa. facility; and the posting of a notice about the settlement.

The EEOC charged that Schott laid off women because of their sex after a company reorganization in October 2004 of its specialty glass plant in Duryea, Pa. Prior to the reorganization, glass production at the plant was generally divided into two parts, the “hot end” and the “cold end”; 95.3% of the hot-end workers were male and 76.6% of the cold-end workers were female.

As part of the reorganization, the company created a new position of “melting line operator” and used a “skills matrix” to determine who would obtain these new positions. The glass company laid off employees whom it did not select for the melting line operator position. In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that the skills matrix system benefited male employees, did not accurately measure the skills truly needed to perform the melting line operator job and had an adverse impact on female applicants – who were selected for layoff at a significantly higher rate than male employees. The EEOC alleged six female employees were not selected for melting line operator positions and were laid off because of their sex, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Acting EEOC Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru said, “This significant settlement demonstrates the EEOC's commitment to securing meaningful relief for victims of systemic sex discrimination.”

Continue reading "Schott North America Must Pay $1.45 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit" »

May 26, 2009

Damages In A Sexual Harassment Case

Although the title suggests damages in a sexual harassment case, these damages are also available in most discrimination cases.
1. Economic Damages--consist of back and front pay plus incidentals. Included in this calculation are benefits. Back pay is the amount of money equal to wages an employee would have earned, including all benefits from the date of discharge through the date of final judgment. Front pay is an amount of money equal to wages and benefits the employee will lose in the future because of a lower paying job or no job at all. Incidentals may be relocation costs, education costs for retraining and costs for tools if required at a new position.

2. Emotional Distress Damages--There is new specific formula for this calculation and there are many factors to consider including, the credibility of the employee, length of employment, believeability of witnesses, prior or pre-existing similar injuries, nature and extent of counseling or other medical treatment, and strength of the underlying case.

3. Punitive Damages--Under Title VII and ADA violations punitive damages may be awarded. In order to recover the employee must prove the employer engaged in a discriminatory practice or discriminatory practices with malice or with reckless indifference to the federally protected rights of the employee, but also that liability for the punitive damages should be imputed to the employer.

4. Attorneys' Fees--All federal anti discrimination statutes and those in Illinois provide for the recovery of attorney fees by the prevailing party. Discretion as to the amount is up to the Judge.

Continue reading "Damages In A Sexual Harassment Case" »

May 25, 2009

EEOC Files Sexual Harassment Cases Against CRST Van Expedited

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed suit against CRST Van Expedited in September 2007 on behalf of 265 former employees, alleging it failed to protect women driving on two-driver teams from unwelcome sexual conduct and harassment from male drivers and trainers. Chief Judge Linda Reade last week dismissed the EEOC's claim that CRST had a "pattern or practice" of tolerating sexual harassment. However Judge Reade acknowledged 146 female drivers "variously suffered physical, mental and/or emotional abuse at the hands of their male co-drivers and lead drivers." Additionally the Judge said there was evidence of male drivers crawling into women's bunks uninvited, ordering women off trucks and tossing their belongings out of cabs, and of male drivers punching, kicking, grabbing, fondling and raping female drivers.

According to the Judge, CRST provided evidence that it has a policy against sexual harassment, has multiple channels for reporting sexual harassment, and has acted on sexual harassment claims. CRST dismissed at least one driver for sexual harassment and in dozens of cases, it made sure some males no longer were teamed with female drivers.

May 2, 2009

Activist Settles Sexual Harassment Case For $130,000

The Los Angeles City Council today approved a $130,000 settlement in a sexual harassment complaint by Mary Cummins-Cobb against departing Animal Services Director Ed Boks. The lawsuit, filed by animal activist Mary Cummins-Cobb alleged Boks engaged in "inappropriate and unprofessional conduct" including trying to hug and kiss her, calling her frequently and using vulgar comments with her. Boks resigned last month in the face of pressure from officials, with complaints over his decision-making and operation of the department.

Cummins-Cobb had been working with Boks to develop the Animal Services Web site, but she had to leave because of the way she was being treated. After leaving the post, Cummins-Cobb alleged in her lawsuit that she lost other jobs because of Boks. Cummins-Cobb filed a lawsuit as a result of being fired alleging sexual harassment, retaliation and the creation of a hostile work environment.

Cummins-Cobb also alleged that Boks would come to her residence drunk late at night and ask her out for a date.

Continue reading "Activist Settles Sexual Harassment Case For $130,000" »

May 1, 2009

N.Y. court awards Hillside woman $1.86M in sexual harassment lawsuit

Jance Worthen-Caldwell was awarded $1.86 million in a civil sexual harassment lawsuit, after a jury in Brooklyn decided she was ridiculed and sexually abused by her employer at a home health care agency. Steven Ostrovsky was ordered to pay Caldwell $1.86 million for past and future pain and suffering. The award for future pain and suffering will be paid regardless of whether or not Worthen-Caldwell goes back to work at that agency.

Caldwell had asked for damages totaling $400 million, plus legal costs because Ostrovsky made sexually explicit comments and demanded sexual favors from her "as a term of employment." The jury found that Ostrovsky's behavior was "more than just a trivial slight or minor inconvenience" and that he had made unwanted sexual advances or demands toward Worthen-Caldwell that she rejected.

"I tried to hold onto my job because I don't have a college degree," she said. "But it got to the point where I could not continue to have this man touch me, or rub himself up against me any time he wanted to."
April 28, 2009

Illinois Supreme Court Rules on Sexual Harassment Case

The Illinois Supreme Court overturned an appellate court deceision and ruled the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department is liable for damages and legal costs in a sexual harassment case. The case was sent back to the Illinois Human Rights Commission to determine the amount of damages. The case stems from actions in 1998 involving Sgt. Ron Yanor and Donna Feleccia Scroggin. In that case Scroggin alleged Yanor invited her to accompany him to a bar, showed up at her house uninvited, and forced her to kiss him.

Scroggin’s attorney, Mary Lee Leahy, said the court’s decision will force employers to take more initiative when it comes to curbing sexual harassment.

The Illinois Human Rights Commission initially awarded Scroggin $10,000 in damages and her attorney $13,400 in legal costs.

In the majority opinion, Justice Anne Burke wrote that “the evidence of the forged letter, together with the other conduct proved by Feleccia, was sufficient to establish a hostile working environment.”
April 24, 2009

Dallas Fire Rescue Faces Second Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Dallas Fire-Rescue ("DFR") faces a second sexual harassment lawsuit after a female employee, Leanne Siri found semen spilled and smeared on her desk. The body fluid was on her keyboard, on a photo of her daughter and inside the coffeec up she drank from. Siri said she was recently demoted as the highest ranking civilian for reporting sexual harassment to commanders, including explicit e-mails among other things. This is a form of retaliation and a hostile work environment.

"The thought it was in my cup made me sick at my stomach and made me ill," Siri said.

Siri's lawsuit also states DFR did allocate $75,000 for sensitivity training two years ago as a result of the first sexual harassment lawsuit, but later spent the money on an embroidery machine among other things. Many times as part of a lawsuit settlement, a company is required to spend money on training to correct previous mistakes.

April 21, 2009

Green Bay Furniture-Maker Fired Executive for Exposing CEO's Sexual Affairs

The former president of a major Green Bay manufacturing firm, Roderick Ganiard, claims he was wrongly terminated after confronting his boss - CEO and philanthropist Richard Resch - about how his repeated affairs with female staffers were hurting the company. Ganiard filed a lawsuit against Resch and office furniture-maker Krueger International, alleging at least five women have brought sexual harassment complaints against the company, and that Resch forced Ganiard out after he led the company to record sales--which is retaliation.

"Mr. Ganiard was an at-will employee who had a written contract," said George Burnett, attorney for Resch and KI. "He does not like the severance package he negotiated and now is alleging all sorts of garbage."

Burnett said the allegations of sexual harassment are false and were not part of Ganiard's original lawsuit filed in state court last year. The company last month had the case moved to federal court, where the defendants' motion to dismiss is pending.

According to court records, Ganiard alleges a woman in her early 20s said Resch, 70, constantly asked her out and offered to transfer her to working directly for him. Mark Olsen, a 30-year employee and chief financial officer, resigned after Resch flew into a rage when Olsen confronted him about the complaint. Resch pressured the company to hire a waitress he met. The woman was very open with other KI employees about the fact that she was dating Richard Resch and her relationship with him. One woman who had a long-term relationship with Resch was earning substantially less than her peers in the company. Ganiard said he learned Resch "compensated her off the books with a number of indiscrete benefits" - including a home, trips and college tuition for her children.


April 15, 2009

Opportunity Village Worker Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Jessica Hein, 23,alleges that her shift leader, Ryan Dennis, 26, made numerous unwanted sexual advances toward her, including unwanted and unsolicited touching, grabbing, groping and squeezing various parts of her body. Hein alleges that the Village discriminated against her based on her gender and subjected her to a hostile work environment as a result of the unwanted sexual harassment.

The lawsuit alleges five counts of sexual harassment, assault and battery, negligent hiring, negligent supervision and negligent retention and also claims the Village knew or should have known of the sexual harassment and failed to take appropriate corrective action which resulted in retaliation against Hein for complaining about the sexual harassment and for filing complaints with the Mason City Human Rights Commission.

Village Executive Director John Severtson said due to confidentiality issues he could not say if Hein and Dennis are still employed at the Village.

Hein is seeking damages for each count, including, compensation for past and future suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, punitive damages in an amount appropriate to punish the Village for willful and malicious conduct and to deter the Village from engaging in such misconduct in the future, compensation for all past and future medical and counseling expenses and attorney fees.

April 10, 2009

Illinois Supreme Court Update--Illinois Human Rights Act Doesn't Bar Federal and State Claims

The Illinois Supreme Court held in Blount v. Stroud, 2009 WL 153862 (Ill Sup Ct. 2009) that the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") doesn't preclude employees who file a claim under the Human Rights Act from bringing other claims based on common law, or federal statutes in state court.

Background

Jerri Blount filed a multicount complaint in Cook County Circuit Court against her former employer Jovon Broadcasting Corporation and the owner and general manager. The two counts of interest to his analysis were her common law retaliatory discharge and retaliation under 42 USC Section 1981. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss claiming the Act precluded her from filing in the circuit court. The court rejected the motion to dismiss and she was ultimately awarded over $3 million dollars by a jury. The appellate court reversed holding the Act deprives Illinois Courts of subject matter jurisdiction. The Illinois Supreme Court heard the case and ruled that whether facts giving rise to a civil rights violation as defined under state law might also give rise to a civil rights violation under definitions found in federal statutes was not relevant and Blount had a right to pursue her claim under federal law in state circuit court.

April 9, 2009

Jobs With The Most Reported Sexual Harassment Cases

Sexual Harassment at work goes unreported in almost 40% of the time. Approximately 61% of employees reported their sexual harassment to their superiors. According to LegalMatch.com statistics compiled within the last 5 years, the following jobs had the most reported sexual harassment cases:

Retail: 28%
Manufacturing: 16%
Government: 12%
Transportation: 9%
Professional (law, accounting, architecture, etc.): 9%
Education: 8%
Construction: 8%
High technology: 6%

With the downturn in the economy there has been a rise in the number of employment related claims including claims for sexual harassment. One reason is that an employee who may otherwise have looked the other way to keep her job, now finds herself unemployed due to mass layoffs and no longer has anything to lose by filing a claim for sexual harassment or other form of discrimination.


A hostile work environment exists when an employee experiences workplace harassment and fears going to work because of the offensive, intimidating, or oppressive atmosphere generated by the harasser based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, citizenship status, marital status, or personal appearance. Hostile work environment is also one of the two legal categories of sexual harassment.

April 4, 2009

Kennesaw Employees File Lawsuit Alleging Racial Discrimination

The racial comments began on Gary Redd’s first day on the job in Kennesaw’s public works department and they never let up according to his lawsuit. Redd, a native of Korea, said he was called “wetback,” “rice-eater” and “slant-eye.” Two years later, in 2008, he couldn’t take the racial harassment any longer and quit--which is referred to as constructive discharge.

Willie Smith says he has endured racist behavior since he was hired by Kennesaw in 1995. In 1996, he complained about nooses hanging from two city trucks. He says racial slurs like the n-word was used regularly by bosses and co-workers, and a “White Only” sign was taped to a bathroom stall.

Before retiring, the head of the public works department, Woody McFarlin, posted a picture of the old Georgia flag with a slice of watermelon on it. The caption read: “Now, here’s a flag that will appeal to ALL Georgians!” Smith kept reporting the racist behavior. “I couldn’t ever get nothing resolved,” he said.

Smith, Redd and Stanley Mitchell, a 22-year public works employee, filed a racial discrimination and harassment lawsuit against Kennesaw on March 9, 2009.

“I felt like something had to be done to stop this, so it wouldn’t go on with future generations,” Redd said.
April 2, 2009

EEOC Sues Illinois Elks Lodge For Sexual Harassment

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") is suing a southwestern Illinois Elks Lodge, alleging three board members sexually harassed three female bartenders. In its lawsuit (Case No. 3:09-cv-00200), filed in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Illinois, the EEOC claims that Vicki Vickers, Elizabeth Stemm, and Jackie Davidson (formerly Jackie Atteberry at the time of her employment by defendant) were subjected to unlawful sexual harassment while working at Elks Lodge No. 954 by three members of the Elks’ board of trustees on numerous occasions in 2005 and 2006.

The abuse, which the EEOC said was perpetrated by trustees Joe Ritter, Allen Dunham and Dennis Prough, included repeated unwelcome sexual advances and touching, and sexually explicit comments. The lawsuit said that after 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. Davidson was terminated and a hostile work environment ensued in which Vickers was compelled to resign.

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
.

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.


.

Continue reading "Basic Energy Settles EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit For $250,000" »

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.

Continue reading "Restaurant Chain $457,500 to settle EEOC race discrimination lawsuit " »

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."
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.

Continue reading "Man Awarded $94,500 For Hostile Work Environment Claim" »

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.

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.


Continue reading "United Airlines settles lawsuit over hidden porn found on flights" »

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.

Continue reading "Over 100 Female Prison Employees File Sexual Harassment Lawsuit" »

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.


Continue reading "Jury finds Niner Winery owner not guilty of sexual harassment" »

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.

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.

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 DailyJournal.com
The Vineland Board of Education decided to settle the lawsuit rather than risk a potential large judgment.
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
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.

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.

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.

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

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.


Continue reading "Secretary Settles Sexual Harassment Case for Almost $1 Million" »

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.

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

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Restaurant Depot" »

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."

Continue reading "Henry County Animal Control Department Sued For Sexual Harassment" »

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."

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 KOAT.com. 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.

February 26, 2009

Clay County Settles Sexual Harassment Case for $208,000

Clay County has agreed to pay $208,000 to an employee, Michele Stryker to settle a sexual-harassment lawsuit that named Assessor Cathy Rinehart and a former worker as defendants. In the lawsuit Stryker alleged that Rinehart repeatedly allowed Steve Sutterfield, then an employee, to make sexually suggestive and offensive comments in front of her and other female employees, constituting sexual harassment.The lawsuit also claims Stryker and other women in the office experienced gender discrimination in their compensation, travel arrangements and benefits.

In recent weeks, the county settled a fourth sexual harassment lawsuit for $90,000 involving Rinehart. In that lawsuit, Debbie Burr of Kansas City maintained that there was hostile work environment in the assessor’s office during 2003-2004.


February 25, 2009

Transgendered Woman Sues Burlington Coat Factory For Sexual Harassment

Maya Wicks-Perez, a transgendered woman filed a lawsuit against Burlington Coat Factory’s San Francisco’s branch alleging sexual harassment and discrimination. Wicks-Perez informed the store that she was going to transition back in 2001 and alleges that one of her supervisors had no issue with her transition, but that the senior management told her that it was wrong. That management fostered an atmosphere that was openly hostile and created a hostile work environment.

Wicks-Perez alleges that she was subjected to graphic sexual conversations, co-workers grabbing her body and claims one of her supervisors handed her pornography. Management ignored her complaints and stood passively by while these actions took place according to the complaint.

"It seemed as if their attitude was that it was okay for me to be treated that way because I am a transgender person" Wicks-Perez said

A 2006 study into the issue of transgender discrimination found that roughly a quarter of transpeople have been the victim of sexual harassment, and over half have been victims of other forms of discrimination.

February 21, 2009

Update: Firefighters Awarded $34,000 In Sexual Harassment Case

Update from a story appearing in this Blog on February 3. San Diego firefighters John Ghiotto, Chad Allison, Jason Hewitt and Alexander Kane who were ordered by their supervisor to appear in the city's 2007 homosexual "Pride Parade" were awarded $34,000 total for emotional damages from the event, where they were sexually harassed.

The men were sexually harassed through lewd cat calls and obscene gestures at the event, which was replete with sexual displays and graphic images. After complaining to superiors the men suffered from retaliation. In once instance the men were told if they did not march in the parade they would be disciplined according to the World Net Daily.

According to the men,

"While moving down the parade route we were subjected to verbal abuse, (show me your hose, you can put out my fire, give me mouth to mouth, flick you fireman) sexual gestures, (showing their penis, blowing kisses, grabbing their crotch, rubbing their nipples, tongue gestures, flipping us off)."

Continue reading "Update: Firefighters Awarded $34,000 In Sexual Harassment Case" »

February 18, 2009

Car Dealership Pays $244,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Murphy Ford Inc, a car dealership located in Chester, Pennsylvania, will pay $244,000 to settle a Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit, filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC alleges that Murphy Ford sexually harassed three female employees and fired one woman for complaining about the unlawful harassment--which constituted retaliation.

According to the lawsuit which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the dealership's service manager sexually harassed Cynthia Bell and other female employees in the service department which included sexually explicit comments, references to oral sex and grabbing his private parts in their presence. Bell repeatedly made complaints to the owner and dealership management, however, Murphy Ford did nothing to stop the harassment and retaliated against Bell by suddenly firing her.

According to Debra Lawrence according regional EEOC attorney:

"This case should remind employers that they have an obligation to take prompt and effective measures to stop harassment in the workplace. If the employer instead does the wrong thing and terminates an employee who complains about harassment, then the EEOC will take action."


Continue reading "Car Dealership Pays $244,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit" »

February 15, 2009

Silicon Valley City Settles Sexual Harassment Case for $300,000

The City of Concord, located in Silicon Valley, California settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by two former female police officers, who alleged they were discriminated against by male police officers. As part of the settlement the city agreed to pay Denise Dale $250,000 in damages, plus $50,000 in workers' compensation. The second woman, Kristyn Thurmond, will not receive any money under the terms of the settlement.

The sexual harassment lawsuit filed in Contra Costa Superior Court alleged that Dale and Thurmond suffered severe and continuous gender-based harassment and encountered a work environment rife with hostility toward female police officers and that they suffered retaliation for reporting the alleged conduct to superiors. Dale and Thurmond quit their jobs at the Concord Police Department as a result of the harassment and retaliation. They both allege in their lawsuit that higher-ranking officers including Brentwood City Councilman Brandon Richey had sexually explicit conversations in front of them, passed them over for choice assignments with the police department and punished them based solely on their gender.

Thurmond said she was accused of being a coward and was told that she was a poor officer.

Thurmond began working for the police department in 2001 and alleges that a Concord officer took an "inordinate and unwelcome personal and romantic interest" in her in 2002, when he was her field training officer, according to the Mercury News. Thurmond moved to a different squad in 2005, and left the police department in 2007.

Continue reading "Silicon Valley City Settles Sexual Harassment Case for $300,000" »

February 10, 2009

UPS Worker Claims Male Supervisor Sexually Harassed Him

Tom Sobocinski a UPS worker since 1986 filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against his supervisor Russell Ford. In his lawsuit, Mr. Sobocinski alleges Mr. Ford engaged in a long pattern of sexual harassment and sexual abuse at the UPS warehouse, and that the misconduct was condoned by Ford's manager, Ronald Draper who was present when Mr. Ford used sexually inappropriate language.

“UPS sends out these policies of zero tolerance of sexual harassment, but it apparently doesn’t apply to everyone,” Mr. Sobocinski said. “If I or any Teamster said what he said, we’d be fired and escorted out of the building.”

According to the lawsuit Mr. Ford repeatedly made sexually inappropriate comments to Sobocinsky and other employees throughout 2004 including when Mr. Ford complimented Mr. Sobocinski’s posterior and crudely proposed a related sexual act, Mr. Sobocinski said. Another time, Mr. Ford rubbed a piece of paper against his posterior and threw it at Mr. Sobocinski, he said. He said his supervisor has repeatedly made sexually suggestive comments to both men and women, has called male employees “faggots” and regularly touched people in a sexual manner according to the Worcester Telegram.

According to Sobocinski, since filing the lawsuit, he’s been retaliated against by UPS. As an example Sobocinski claims when he takes his wife to doctor appointments, he use to be able to take two or three hours off from work, now UPS makes him use an entire day for the same appointment.

Continue reading "UPS Worker Claims Male Supervisor Sexually Harassed Him" »

February 6, 2009

Female Shipyard Workers Hostile Work Environment Claim Denied

A female shipyard worker’s allegations of sexual harassment against a supervisor following a single, unwanted encounter did not justify the New Orleans woman’s lawsuit against her employer, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems according to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance, who on April 3 dismissed the female worker’s claim that Northrop Grumman allowed a “hostile work environment.

The female shipyard worker alleged that Barattini “walked up to her until his chest was touching hers, thus ‘chesting up’ to her breasts in a 30-second confrontation,” according to the appellate record. The woman attempted to walk away, toward a narrow passageway of the ship, but the foreman allegedly followed her and the female immediately reported the incident to her supervisor. According to the lawsuit the woman alleged that:

“He forced his way through the door ahead of her, and, in doing so, placed his hand on her stomach and ran his arm around her waist,” the record states. “As he squeezed passed her in the passageway, he allegedly ‘rubbed his pelvic region across her hips and buttocks.’ ”

In 2007, the woman filed suit against Northrop under Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, alleging sexual harassment, and seeking lost wages due to disability, continuing emotional distress and other claims. According to the Advocate, the lawsuit stemmed from a single, 90-second encounter on May 10, 2006.

February 4, 2009

Northhampton County Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit for almost $80,000

Gidget Mock, who worked as a lab technician in the Northampton county's drunken-driving center settled her sexual harassment lawsuit with the county for almost $80,000, with $39,000 to her and $38,500 to her attorneys. In the lawsuit she alleged several incidents of harassment occurred between 2003 and 2005, including comments about her clothing and groping. This is a form of retaliation, although not the traditional workplace retaliation where a person gets a negative job action for reporting sexual harassment.

Mock alleges in her lawsuit that she was evicted from her home in November 2003 and sheriff's deputies were called to remove her belongings from the property.

While they ransacked Mock's closets and drawers, they reportedly made comments about her lingerie, such as, "Gidget, we never knew you wore thong underwear" and "nice teddies."

After that, Mock's supervisor and two co-workers began directing inappropriate sexual comments or sexual advances toward her and the harassment continued as she found a police nightstick beside a sex toy left by co-workers on the kitchen counter.

As part of the settlement of the sexual harassment lawsuit, Mock agreed to resign and the county does not admit any liability and Mock relinquishes her right to ask for reinstatement to her job. According to lehighvalleynews.com, Mock had no comment about the settlement and County Executive John Stoffa said "I'm happy that it's settled. It's unfortunate it had to get to this point," Stoffa said. "I just wanted to get it off our books."

January 29, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Islip Clerks Office

Lorraine Fitzpatrick an employee in the Islip Town Clerk's office has filed a sexual harassment complaint against Town Clerk Regina Duffy alleging that Duffy touched and kissed her, then penalized her when she objected. In a court document dated Dec. 19, 2008 Fitzpatrick said that Duffy had sexually harassed her with "unwelcome sexual touching, kissing, and rubbing." Additionally Duffy retaliated with "poor performance evaluations, suspensions without pay, the taking away of vacation time and salary, increased supervision and a demotion of position responsibilities."

A second employee, Diane Colletti, filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging that Duffy, 60 has been pushing out older female employees, according to Colletti's attorney, Eden Mauro of Syosset. This would be a form of age discrimination.

January 26, 2009

$2.4 Million Sexual Harassment Award Upheld on Appeal

A jury in Simi Valley initially awarded James Stevens $18.4 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a sexual harassment lawsuit in October 2006. But the presiding judge later reduced the damages to $2.4 million. The award was appealed and the California Second District Court of Appeal upheld a jury’s reduced $2.4 million award plus $750,000 in attorney fees to Stevens in the sexual harassment case against the Vons supermarket chain.

Stevens worked for the supermarket chain for 25 years, including 15 years as an inventory clerk, where he proved that a female manager sexually harassed him on numerous occasions. Stevens complained to the company about the sexual harassment, but instead of taking action against the management employee, Vons fired him, which resulted in Stevens filing the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. Stevens was represented by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred.

Stevens testified he was subjected to daily sexual harassment by the manager. In addition to making sexual remarks, she once simulated sex with a feather duster.

Continue reading "$2.4 Million Sexual Harassment Award Upheld on Appeal" »

January 23, 2009

Prior Record Of Supervisor Used As Leverage to Settle Sexual Harassment Case for $325,000

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services agreed to pay an Oxford woman $320,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. Dorothy Hawley filed a lawsuit against supervisor James Hobgood at John Umstead Hospital. Hobgood had a prior history of mistreating female workers including a conviction for assaulting Hawley and another female employee in October 2000. In Illinois, if an employer retains an employee with a history of sexually harassing women and exposes women to that person, the employer would have created a hostile work environment a new round of sexual harassment takes place.

According to court documents the evidence showed that Hobgood had been fired from another state facility 22 years earlier. In that case, Hobgood was disciplined for sexual harassment after complaints from female staffers about his behavior. His behavior in that case was so outrageous that his personnel file stated he should not be hired again by the state.

According to the News & Observer Hawley had won $433,000 in damages from the N.C. Industrial Commission, but the state appealed the award. Mediation resulted in the $320,000 settlement. In Illinois mediation is available once a claim is filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Continue reading "Prior Record Of Supervisor Used As Leverage to Settle Sexual Harassment Case for $325,000" »

January 22, 2009

Grand Traverse Resort & Spa Sued For Sexual Harassment

Heather Bickel, 37 who worked as a housekeeper at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, alleges former housekeeping supervisor Milton Cordova assaulted her. Bickel is alleging at least $25,000 in damages in a sexual harassment lawsuit. Bickel is the second woman in two months to file a lawsuit against the resort because of sexual harassment. Former housekeeper Amanda McAllister filed a lawsuit in November, alleging Cordova forcibly groped her as she cleaned a room in September. McAllister's lawsuit also accuses the resort of doing nothing after complaints, a lack of action that allegedly put other housekeepers at risk

According to Bickel's lawsuit she complained to her supervisors and the resort's human resources department after the sexual harassment, but they wouldn't fire him. She claims they took no action and continued to put her at risk. Bickel claims the resort broke its promise of zero tolerance of sexual harassment by refusing to take action after the assault. Bickel also alleges the resort let other workers know she complained about the sexual harassment, which caused her to be subjected to derogatory comments from other employees-thus creating a hostile work environment.

In Illinois a hostile work environment exists when an employee experiences workplace harassment and fears going to work because of the offensive, intimidating, or oppressive atmosphere generated by the harasser based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and sexual orientation.

Continue reading "Grand Traverse Resort & Spa Sued For Sexual Harassment" »

January 21, 2009

House Speaker Accused of Sexual Harassment of State Representative

New Tennessee House Speaker Kent Williams denies sexually harassing Representative Susan Lynn. According to the Nashville Tennessean, Speaker Williams had two encounters with Rep. Lynn last year, including one on March 27 in which he allegedly told her she was beautiful and said he would give a week's pay to see her naked. The second incident occured just over a week later in which he allegedly came up behind her, put his arm tightly around her and embraced her, while telling her to have a nice weekend. This type of behavior also creates a hostile work environment.
Rep. Lynn said she was scared that this behavior pattern would repeat itself as she once against felt sexually harassed by the Speaker. According to the Chattanooga Times, “I have never sexually harassed anyone nor have I been reprimanded for any such behavior,” Rep. Williams said in a statement. “Right now my focus continues to be on moving this state forward and getting to the business of governing.”

Another Representative made an accusation against the Speaker the same year. Rep. Maggart said she got in her car and Williams leaned in the window and told her how beautiful she was and “that he appeared to be staring at her breasts,” according to the memo, which has no timestamp on it to verify when it was drafted. The memo was part of an internal investigation of the sexual harassment claims.

Continue reading "House Speaker Accused of Sexual Harassment of State Representative" »

January 20, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Film Producer in Chicago

A Illinois Sexual Harassment lawsuit was filed by Jill Sandmire the personal assistant to Emilio Ferrari who is the producer of the film Baby on Board, starring Heather Graham, John Corbett, Jerry O'Connell and Lara Flynn Boyle. According to the lawsuit, Ferrari repeatedly slapped her buttocks, groped her, asked her to massage his shoulders and back and told her she would look really hot if she got breast implants. Sandmire also said Ferrari asked her if she and other employees were at a strip club to obtain a stripper's phone number and asked her to buy condoms.

According to the sexual harassment lawsuit Sandmire claims she repeatedly told Ferrari to stop and that when she asked a production coordinator to transfer her to another department, Ferrari prevented it--thus creating a hostile work environment. Sandmire was fired shortly after and believes it is the result of retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment and for refusing to accept the advances of Ferrari.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Film Producer in Chicago" »

January 19, 2009

Illinois Human Rights Act Amendment That Bans Sexual-Orientation and Gender-Identity Discrimination: Three Years Later

The Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") act that bans sexual-orientation and gender-identity discrimination went into effect three years ago and here is an update on the act. According to the Director of IDHR Rocco Claps, a snapshot of fiscal year ‘09 ( from July ‘08 to today ) , shows there have been 89 sexual-orientation charges and, of those, 11 are related to gender identity, 2 based on bisexual, 67 on homosexualality, 2 on heterosexuality and 3 based on perceived orientation.

In Illinois, the IDHR investigates charges of sexual harassment, as well as sexual-orientation. Known as Public Act 093-1078 the new act makes it is unlawful in Illinois to discrimination on the basis of sex, age, race, gender, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, and religion. The other basis of discrimination besides employment include real-estate transactions; public accommodations; sexual harassment in higher education; and financial credit.

Continue reading "Illinois Human Rights Act Amendment That Bans Sexual-Orientation and Gender-Identity Discrimination: Three Years Later" »

January 18, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Sheriffs Office Seeking $8 Million

A sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by four women for a total of $8 million, claiming the office has a culture of sexual harassment in which even ranking officers engage in physical and verbal harassment. Fulton Sheriff Myron Freeman, the Fulton County Georgia Sheriff’s Office and others are named in the lawsuit. The lawsuit claims the women were subjected to actual touching, lewdness and forced inappropriate contact, all items that would constitute a hostile work environment.

In the sexual harassment lawsuit one of the women, a former executive secretary, alleges she tolerated off-color jokes during the three years she worked for the sheriff until a lieutenant made an obscene reference about her performing a sexual act. The lawsuit alleges that most of the harassment took place inside Fulton County’s jail. The former secretary said "working at the Sheriff’s Office is like Sodom and Gomorrah."

In Illinois a new law that went into affect last year allows for also filing a claim of sexual harassment in state court after first filing with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Sheriffs Office Seeking $8 Million" »

January 17, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against The University of Pittsburg Medical Center

A sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by Lindsey Yeager against the University of Pittsburg Medical Center ("UPMC Horizon") claiming gender bias, sexual harassment, wrongful termination and retaliation. Yeager was a nurse when an unnamed doctor pressured her to date him in and then to have sex with him. Yeager agreed to have sex because the doctor said her career would suffer if she didn’t, she alleges.

Yeager said she complained about the sexual harassment to her supervisors and tried to break off the relationship, but the doctor assaulted her. She claims the sexual harassment not only continued but got worse and the doctor had her supervisor issue written reprimands and criticize her without justification-which is retaliation. Yeager was fired six months after she claims she began to have sex with the doctor.

UPMC said the relationship with the doctor was consensual, and it was the doctor who tried to end the relationship. UPMC also claims Yeager falsely claimed to be working when in fact she was attending classes in Pittsburg and that she never reported sexual harassment allegations until her job performance was being negatively evaluated.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against The University of Pittsburg Medical Center" »

January 16, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Illinois Based McDonalds USA LLC

A sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by Crystal Neely, a former employee of McDonald’s alleging the fast-food giant allowed the sexual harassment to occur while she was working as a cashier at the restaurant on Southwest Lost River Road in Stuart Florida. Neely claimed she was hired as a cashier by McDonalds in February 2008 but soon after was subjected to sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior from a co-worker. She claims the co-worker grabbed her breasts, tried to kiss her and told her he loved her, according to the lawsuit.

Neely complained about the sexual harassment to management but no action was taken to protect her, she alleges. As a result of her complaint to management a hostile work environment continued to exist until she was terminated in May--which she claims was retaliation for filing the complaint.

Prior to terminating Neely, she was moved to a different McDonald's--and the move hasn't been fully explained. Neely claims the move was the first step in the retaliation process with the final step being her termination.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Illinois Based McDonalds USA LLC" »

January 13, 2009

Illinois Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed by School Principal

A sexual harassment lawsuit by former Robert Frost School Principal Deborah Nuzzi was dismissed by a federal judge in Illinois but Nuzzi plans to file an appeal that would keep her sexual harassment lawsuit against Bourbonnais Elementary School District 53 alive. Nuzzi claims school board member Rob Rodewald sexually harassed her and, after she complained of the sexual harassment, the school district retaliated against her.

Illinois U.S. District Court Judge Michael P. McCuskey said the sexual harassment allegations nearly violated court rules, "border on the sanctionable" and declared the retaliation claim "entirely without merit." The lawsuit alleges Rodewald touched Nuzzi on the shoulder on one occasion, then followed her into a hallway to ask "Deb, how are we doing, you and me? Are we OK?

The lawsuit also alleges a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in that the school district paid Nuzzi a lower salary than they paid her male counterparts. Nuzzi contends she was damaged in that she suffered humilation, stress, embarassment and lost wages among other forms of compensatory damages.

Continue reading "Illinois Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed by School Principal" »

January 12, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Former College President

A sexual harassment lawsuit was filed in federal court against Luna Community College former President Leroy Sanchez alleging he touched Charlene Ortiz-Cordova the former academic advisor, made unwanted sexual gestures, and made inappropriate comments to her over several months. The lawsuit also alleges that Luna failed or refused to take appropriate action to prevent and correct the sexual harassment.

The lawsuit is being filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which protects women from discrimination in employment. The lawsuit also alleges the harassment resulted in a hostile work environment for Ortiz-Cordova. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981a., statutory caps on damages are imposed for both compensatory and punitive damages. The combined damage caps are based on the number of employees an employer has working for it. For employers who have in excess of 500 workers $300,000 is the statutory cap.

According to the lawsuit Ortiz-Cordova complained repeatedly about the unwanted harassment to her immediate supervisors but only after a year passed did one of them alert the college’s human-resources department of her complaints. Mr. Sanchez was told to avoid contacting Ms. Ortiz-Cordova, the suit alleges, but he was never disciplined and nothing further was done about the matter

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Former College President" »

January 10, 2009

Sexual Harassment Accusation Against Top Law Enforcement Official

A sexual harassment, retaliation and hostile work environment complaint was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision ("EEOC") and Texas Workforce Commission ("TWC") against Bill Fitzgerald the boss of Michelle Garza, a probation officer. The Illinois Department of Human Rights serves the same function as the TWC.

Prior to filing her sexual harassment complaint, Garza had been with the probation department for nearly 20 years. In her sexual harassment complaint she claims to be an excellent employee but was recently written up for official misconduct. In her write-up she's accused of speaking too loudly on the phone with her ex-husband and she believes the write-up was done in retaliation for filing complaints of sexual discrimination.

According to the complaint while a group of co-workers were out at a local restaurant,Chris Madrid's, Fitzgerald commented on Garza's open toe sandals, began rubbing her feet and made inappropriate comments like "you know what I like even better than breasts? Feet." He also allegedly said that short pretty hispanic women like Garza turn him on. Garza claims the comments and actions of Fitzgerald left her in fear and stressed out. This is the basis for her hostile work environment claim.

Garza is seeking $200,000 in damages and continues to work as a probation officer although she is close to meeting the requirements for retirement.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Accusation Against Top Law Enforcement Official" »

January 9, 2009

Sexual Harassment Issue Asked To Be Decided By Supreme Court

A sexual harassment issue may soon be decided by the United States Supreme Court in Dawn V. Martin v. Howard University, et al., and the decision, if the Court decides to hear the case, will have serious implications for sexual harassment cases in Illinois. The specific issue raised is whether someone can make a sexual harassment claim against the employer under federal-worker protections if the harasser is not an employee. In this particular case an attorney Dawn Martin was stalked by a homeless man while she was working as a law professor at Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.

Martin brought the sexual harassment issues to the attention of school officals and less than a month after she first reported the stalking her teaching contract was not renewed--which Martin claims was retaliation. Martin sued the university in federal court for failure to prevent sexual harassment, hostile work environment and wrongful termination. A federal jury concluded in April 2006 that Harrison's (the homeless man) actions created a "hostile work environment" and that the university failed to take adequate actions to end the workplace harassment. However the jury returned a verdict in favor of the university on the basis that the case did not qualify as sexual harassment, which would have prohibited the employer from retaliating against the employee for reporting the event.

The case appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia which declined to question the jury's conclusion stating " the jury reasonably may have concluded that Harrison's stalking was attributable to his misidentification of Ms. Martin as his wife, not bad behavior based on Ms. Martin's gender." Ms. Martin will now ask to have her case heard by the United States Supreme Court.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Issue Asked To Be Decided By Supreme Court" »

January 9, 2009

Sexual Harassment Claims Against Georgetown Mayor

Sexual Harassment allegations were made by Sabrina Morris, the head of the Georgetown South Carolina's Building and Planning Department, against Mayor Wilson. Morris claims the mayor told her to perform a pole dance on the top of a new bar Beef O'Brady's that was being opened in town. Morris also claims Wilson touched her inappropriately which would also constitute sexual harassment.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following. The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct. Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim. The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome. In determining whether harassment is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile environment, the harasser's conduct should be evaluated from the objective standpoint of a "reasonable person

In Fiscal Year 2007, EEOC received 12,510 charges of sexual harassment and payouts totaled almost $50 million to employees who were victims of sexual harassment.

January 8, 2009

Sexual Harassment Of Female Police Officer Settled for $105,000.

Gender discrimination and a hostile work environment were alleged by Sgt. Valerie Scharfe who claims inequitable treatment as Hasting Minnesota's first female police officer. Scharfe will receive $105,000 and her attorney $25,000 after reaching a settlement with the city over alleged workplace harassment involving sexual harassment.

Although a sexual harassment lawsuit was never filed by Scharfe, the city wished to settle the case to avoid the risk of a long drawn out legal battle which could cost the city a large amount in legal fees, the potential for a large verdict against it and the bad publicity a lawsuit may bring. Both parties utilized mediation to help reach the settlement.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission "EEOC" the advantages of mediation are:
Fair and Neutral
Parties not the mediator have an equal say in the process and decide settlement terms. Saves Time and Money
Mediation occurs early in the process so legal fees are minimal.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Of Female Police Officer Settled for $105,000." »

January 7, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against American Apparel

A sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against American Apparel and its CEO Dov Charney by Mary Nelson who is one of three women who filed the sexual harassment lawsuit. In a recent deposition Charney claims he frequently drops his pants to show people his new product.

Nelson and the two other women claim the boss shocked and disgusted them with dirty talk and gestures, creating a hostile work environment. Nelson claims that in over a year and a half her boss made her work life miserable with unwelcome sexual comments and suggestive signals. She also claims retaliation as she was dismissed after she complained about the offensive conduct.

In his depostion Charney claims he called women sluts at work and that for months at a time he would have just underwear on while at work. At one point Charney even posted a video of himself in underwear on the company website but has since taken it down. Charney also claims that workers can have sex at work at long as they pick a private place where no one can see them. Former employees claim Charney was constantly talking about sex, talking about his own genitalia, talking about other people’s genitalia.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against American Apparel" »

January 6, 2009

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Lawsuit Against Mayor May Be Dismissed

A sexual harassment and discrimination suit filed by a former city employee Cynthia Rogers against the City of Elizabethtown and Mayor David Willmoth may be dismissed by a Judge in the U.S. District Court in Louisville. She claims that former Public Works Superintendent Bill Owen sexually harassed her from 2003 to 2004 and sexually discriminated against her from 2003 to 2007.

In the sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit Rogers claims her supervisor acted under color of state law, deliberately and consciously engaged in adverse actions and retaliation against her which caused her to suffer injury that would likely chill a person of ordinary firmness from continuing to report other acts of sexual harassment or retaliation. She also claims the mayor’s actions violated her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, according to The News-Enterprise.

The city and mayor filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit claiming Rogers was terminated for excessive absenteeism, which included using 900.25 hours of leave time between 2005 and 2007, frequently being late, and failing to appear without telling a supervisor. The city also claims that Rogers was wearing a City of Elizabethtown shirt, was intoxicated in a local restaurant at lunchtime and was warned about the incident and absenteeism.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Lawsuit Against Mayor May Be Dismissed" »

January 5, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Warren County Sheriffs Department

A sexual harassment and discriminatory promotion lawsuit alleging $15 million in damages was filed against former Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland and the Warren County Sheriff’s Department by two veteran female correctional officers, Michelle LeBarron and Cynthia VanDenburgh. The complaint alleges they were discriminated against due to their sex and that they were subjected to sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct by Sheriff Cleveland and the county.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Albany last May after first filing a complaint under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments. Title VII also applies to private and public colleges and universities, employment agencies, and labor organizations.

Here are United States Supreme Court cases that provide more information about Title VII.

Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971)
In a race discrimination case, the Supreme Court used “disparate impact” theory to analyze employment discrimination under Title VII.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Warren County Sheriffs Department" »

January 4, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit By Female Firefighter Settled for $150,000

A sexual Harassment lawsuit filed by female firefighter Stacy Conaway who claims she was sexually harassed by former Assistant Chief John Wagner and that department officials retaliated when the harassment was reported settled for $150,000.

Conaway also claims retaliation as a result of the reporting of the sexual harassment. Retaliation occurs when an adverse action is taken to try to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory practice, or from participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. The day after Wagner’s resignation, Conaway found a dent that looked like it was caused by a firefighters boot in her Chevrolet Tahoe that was parked in the Fire Department’s lot. Soon after reporting the harassment she received less-desirable job assignments--such as being moved from a firefighting position to administrative staff. This is a form of retaliation.

Soon after Conaway began work, she said that Wagner gave her unwanted gifts, including a negligee, a vibrator and an X-rated movie which she threw away. After not first reporting the incident two department captains told Conaway that she should report Wagner’s behavior, but Conaway said she was reluctant to do so because of possible negative consequences.

Then Wagner compared her breasts to the breasts of a woman taking the department’s physical agility test, and said the applicant must have used Conaway’s doctor--Conaway had breast augmentation surgery, and Wagner was aware of it. Conaway’s supervisor became aware of Wagner’s comments and reported them to city officials.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Lawsuit By Female Firefighter Settled for $150,000" »

January 3, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Massachusetts Tax Collector

A sexual harassment and retaliation claim was filed by Deputy Tax Collector Jacquelynne Williams against the city of Holyoke Massachusetts, claiming she was terminated in retaliation for filing a sexual harassment accusation against Tax Collector Robert F. Kane. The retaliation claim was filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, which is analogous to the Illinois Department of Human Rights, where a Illinois Sexual Harassment lawyer would file a similar claim in Illinois.

According to the sexual harassment and retaliation claims Ms. Williams and two other women were sexually harassed but it was Ms. Williams who was the one terminated not her harassor Robert Kane. In Massachusettes as in Illinois many times when a woman files a sexual harassment complaint or complains about sexual harassment she is retaliated against and ultimately her employment is terminated.

According to the newspaper the Republican in her complaint Ms. Williams claimed that Mr. Kane sent her sexually harassing e-mails and made sexual or demeaning verbal comments to her on several occasions in 2006 and 2007 which included demeaning remarks about co-workers, sexually suggestive e-mails, verbal descriptions of suggestive dreams, and comments about other employees.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Massachusetts Tax Collector" »

January 2, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed by Firefighter

A sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by firefighter Paulette Rork, 38, of Englewood in the Lee County Flordia Court system alleging the “intentional infliction of emotional distress and sexual harassment.” In Illinois attorneys can file sexual harassment lawsuits for similar actions.

Rork was employed by the Boca Grande Fire Department from 2000 until being “constructively discharged” in September of 2007. He first filed a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") that was dismissed in February. The file was closed because the commission was unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes. In Illinois just as in other states, the dismissal of a charge by the EEOC does not mean the case is necessarily over.

Rork is seeking $15,000 in lost wages, insurance and attorney’s fees as well as money for unspecified damages, gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed by Firefighter" »

December 29, 2008

Illinois Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago

A former Ambassador East Hotel worker Juana Sallis ("Sallis") filed a complaint against Defendant Portfolio Ambassador East, LLC, ("Portfolio"), owner of the Ambassador Hotel in Chicago, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging that she was subjected to a hostile work environment while employed at the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago when she was sexually harassed by two supervisors in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1); and that Portfolio discharged her in violation of the anti-retaliation provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 because she complained about the sexual harassment.

According to her complaint Sallis was employed as a housekeeper at the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, since May 3, 2000, and had satisfactorily performed the duties of her job. On November 23, 2005, Sallis was notified by a co-worker that another employee, Larry Cason, accused her of engaging in sexual acts with him. Sallis reported the incident to human resources director Elvia Munoz. Munoz and other members of the hotel management staff, including general manager Paul Lauritzen and executive housekeeper Bill Smith, "failed to take any action against Cason to have him cease and desist from engaging in his sexually offensive and derogatory behavior. Sallis alleges that as a result her work environment became hostile, egregious, outrageous, and offensive and severely affected her ability to perform the essential duties of her job.

On December 30, 2005, Sallis was discharged from her job as a housekeeper at the Ambassador East Hotel by Paul Lauritizen, Bill Smith, and Portfolio human resources director Linda Noriega. Sallis was told she was being discharged because she left work early on December 23, 2005. Plaintiff did not receive any documentation validating the reason for her discharge. On April 4, 2006, Sallis filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). On March 1, 2007, the EEOC issued a "right to sue" letter authorizing Sallis to sue under Title VII within ninety days. Sallis filed her lawsuit against Portfolio on May 24, 2007 and it is still pending.


Continue reading "Illinois Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago" »

December 28, 2008

Sexual Harassment Settlement of $200,000 Rejected

A sexual harassment case in Ohio in which two women accused Anthony Gutierrez the general services administrator and friend of the former attorney general Marc Dann of sexual harassment rejected an offer of $200,000. The woman are seeking $900,000 to settle their sexual harassment lawsuit. The women Cindy Stankoski, and Vanessa Stout claim persistant sexual harassment which has cost them their jobs. Stout quit and Stankoski is on an extended leave.

According to a report involving the investigation of the sexual harassment, the rude, vulgar and abusive conduct of senior management, including the attorney general himself, created a hostile work environment and sexual harassment was tolerated. Additionally, Jennifer L. Urban, a staff attorney who had alleged sexual harassment by Gutierrez also and Dann's top spokesman, Leo Jennings III, was fired. The office rejected Urban's claims of sexual harassment.

To show how expensive sexual harassment lawsuits are to defend, Littler Mendelson, a law firm hired by Rogers' office to negotiate a settlement, has received $41,198 thus far, more than twice the amount originally budgeted, attorney general spokesman Ted Hart said.

December 15, 2008

Survey of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") Cases

The EEOC in the last ten years has been active in pursuing claims against employers who sexually harass or otherwise discriminate against employees. Below is a survey of the dollar amounts employees have been awarded in cases brought by the EEOC.
In 2007, companies paid more than $65 million in prelitigation EEOC settlements alone.

EEOC v. Parmalat Bakery Division of North America, Defendant, a New Jersey division of an international company headquartered in Italy, was charged wtih sexual harassment, retaliation, and constructive discharge. The complainant was a sales division manager and the only woman in an office of four male executives. She was subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, sexually explicit comments inappropriate touching and the showing of a pornographic video. She was awarded $300,000. Case resolved in 2004.

Kosen v. American Express Financial Advisors, Inc., A group of female financial advisors alleged that American Express Financial Advisors, Inc.engaged in preferential treatment of male advisors in mentoring, promotion, compensation, and work assignments in violation of federal law.

This was a class action lawsuit in which it is alleged that they experienced gender and/or age discrimination including, but are not limited to, career advancement, failure to hire as a Financial Advisor, distribution of leads and accounts, work assignments, promotion. They were awarded $31 million dollars. Case resolved in 2002.

Continue reading "Survey of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") Cases" »

September 18, 2008

The Illinois Cooper v. Salazar Injunction: A Relief for Illinois Sexual Harassment Lawyers

As of November 1, 2001, the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") has been under a federal-court injuction that among other things, orders the IDHR to "cease permanently from relying on credibility determinations made without affording the rights of confrontation and cross-examination." Cooper v. Salazar, 98 C 2930 U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois at page 26. This case was followed closely by Illinois Sexual Harassment lawyers.

The purpose of the injuction is to deny the Department the ability to assess the credibility of witnesses where there is conflicting testimony. This applies to all witnesses whether they are for the complainant or respondent. In short, if the determination of substantial evidence turns on issues of credibility, the IDHR must make a finding of substantial evidence so the trier of fact may resolve the issue of credibility.

The Illinois Human Rights Act defines substantial evidence as "evidence which a reasonable mind accepts as sufficient to support a particular conclusion and which consists of more than a mere scintilla but may be somewhat less than a preponderance." 775 ILCS 5/7A-102(D)(2).

Conflicting evidence exists when there are statements of a person with material first hand knowledge contradicted by statements of a different person with marerial first hand knowledge; or business records contradicted or oral statements of a person with material first hand knowledge; or business records of one person contradicted by business records of another person.

Continue reading "The Illinois Cooper v. Salazar Injunction: A Relief for Illinois Sexual Harassment Lawyers" »