October 16, 2012

Chicago Office Of Illinois Human Rights Commission

So you currently have a retaliation and sexual harassment case at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") in downtown Chicago. What should you expect next? Well, for starters the company will have an attorney present because that is required by the rules. If you don't have an attorney you will be at a big disadvantage. Knowing all of the complicated discovery rules can mean the difference between winning or losing your discrimination case.

The important point is that if you have a good discrimination case at the IHRC, most experienced employment lawyers will not charge you any money up front. The case will be taken on a contingency fee basis. It is very important you sit down at the very beginning with an experienced employment lawyer and don't wait until the night before you are to appear before the judge in the case. The proper preparation is very important and will help ensure your chances are good for a settlement or judgment.

October 15, 2012

Chicago Retaliation Lawsuit Extends Employer Liability

There was a recent case involving retaliation that the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit weighed in on. The case is Smith v. Bray and earlier this year the Court held that individual liability can occur against a supervisor under Section 1981 for causing an employee of the company to retaliate against another employee. This case has huge ramifications for employers in Chicago. In this case the human resource manager was personally named in the lawsuit because she ignored complaints of discrimination and instead told her bosses to fire the man. The man in this case was Denise Bray and he was fired. So he could file a retaliation claim against the company and the human resource person.

In coming to the conclusion that there is personal liability, the 7th Circuit utilized the Cat's Paw theory of employee liability--and extended it. Another words if the human resource person or supervisor is motivated by bias and they take a negative job action the company is still liable for their actions even if they are not the final decision maker. But under this case the individual is also now liable on a personal basis. This extends liability and puts much more pressure on the company to make sure they have the proper training in place. The companies also should be supervising their employees better and taking discrimination claims more serious. Of course most people don't have deep enough pockets so ultimately the company is going to be the main source of the litigation.

October 13, 2012

Chicago Hostile Work Environments For Reporting Sexual Harassment

The co-worker keeps asking you out on dates and making sexual comments to you. The comments are about how hot he thinks your body is and what he would like to do to you. This conduct has gone on long enough and you report the sexual harassment to human resources. They really can't be bothered and at first they do nothing. You keep complaining and asking what they are going to do about it and they finally move you to a new location. What can you do about it? Well you can file a claim of sexual harassment and retaliation based on the hostile work environment that this created for you. You didn't do anything wrong and should not be the one getting moved.

Now there are a few points to make here. First, if human resources investigates that is one thing. If they do and find the co-worker did as you said they should move him not you. However if they investigate and he denies doing it and there is no other proof than the company is in a tough spot. So try and get some evidence of the sexual harassment before you complain to human resources. Remember you have the burden of proof. An experienced and aggressive employment lawyer can help you with this.

October 4, 2012

The South Loop Club Sued For Sexual Harassment

The South Loop Club in Chicago is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment, retaliation and constructive discharge. The lawsuit is the result of an investigation that revealed female employees complained to management about the ongoing and pervasive sexual harassment. And what makes matters worse, some females who complained were forced to quit, which is called a constructive discharge. Other females were subjected to retaliation and fired by management. One thing is sure, this case will not go away and probably result in a sizable payout.

According to published accounts owners and managers made frequent comments of a sexual nature to subordinate female employees. Sometimes with the tough economy, managers believe they can treat employees as they wish with no consequences. However, when women come forward and complain to the EEOC things end up changing. My guess is other women may come forward now that this is public and they realize the conduct they may have endured is not proper. There are strict time limits for filing complaints with the EEOC so they should consult with an employment lawyer at once.

"In today's economy, even people with jobs may feel vulnerable and try their best to put up with intolerable working conditions rather than attempt to find a new job. But no employee can be forced to endure sexual misconduct at work." Said EEOC attorney John Hendrickson
October 3, 2012

Three Former Attorney's Receive $550,000 To Settle A Retaliation Lawsuit

Three former Knox County assistant state’s attorneys received $550,000 to settle their retaliation lawsuits. The lawsuits were a result of what they claim was retaliation and wrongful termination at the hands of State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer and the county. The three attorneys, Dean Stone, Mike Kraycinovich and Tracy Jones, filed the wrongful discharge and retaliation claims in state and federal court and before the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") against Pepmeyer and the county.

The attorneys who reported allegations of Pepmeyer’s sexual harassment of three female secretaries were fired a short time after they reported the conduct. Pepmeyer said he fired the attorneys because of their tardiness, to list one reason. Of course this reason turned out to be a pretext for the firings. The settlement amount should be a clear indication of that. To show you how much it cost to defend a sexual harassment or retaliation lawsuit, the county spent over $464,000 to date to defend the lawsuit and even more to settle bringing the total cost to $1 million.

“They didn’t show up for work. I was left without any help.” said Pepmeyer
September 30, 2012

Sexual Harassment By The Boss In Chicago

Many times at work people say or do stupid things. Sometimes this could include comments that may seem inappropriate. However there is a difference between an occasional comment and sexual harassment. So for example if the boss is trying to engage in a sexual relationship with you that would be sexual harassment. And many times the boss will not come right out and ask for sex. He may do this in a more subtle way. So he may ask you out for drinks after work or inquire about your personal life. Questions about who you are dating and things you enjoy would be examples.

So what can you do if you boss in Chicago is behaving this way? Well for starters there is strict liability on the company if the boss is engaging in sexual harassment. So even though you should report it you do not have to. One reason people don't like to report the boss is fear of retaliation. My Chicago office sees this type of behavior often. The boss gets called on the carpet for sexual harassment and then the employee starts to get the screws put to her. There are strict time limits for filing a claim of sexual harassment so make sure you speak with an employment lawyer as soon as the conduct happens to you.

September 20, 2012

Radio Shack Must Pay $187,000 To A Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Radio Shack lost a discrmiination lawsuit that was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). A jury returned a verdict in favor of David Nelson and awarded him $187,000. The lawsuit was filed on counts based on retaliation for his complaints about age discrimination. According to published accounst Nelson was 55 years old and had been employed for more than 25 years when Radio Shack assigned a new, younger regional manager to supervise him. Within four months of the new supervisor's arrival Nelson, who had a spotless performance record, was placed on two performance improvement plans. This is usually what a company does when they want to fire an employee.

Nelson complained to the human resources department because he felt he was being singled out because of his age. Within five days of the first complaint and more importantly before the period for assessing the improvement in his performance had expired, Radio Shack terminated Nelson in retaliation for his age discrimination complaint. And what is even more important, Nelson may be able to received double his lost wages because the jury found the conduct of Radio Shack to be willful. This case should serve as a warning and wake-up call to employers.

"It is particularly important for the EEOC to vigorously enforce the anti-retaliation provisions in the employment discrimination laws." said EEOC attorney Rita Kittle
September 12, 2012

Sexual Harassment On Business Trips

So you are going a great job at work and the boss seems to be really noticing it. You think that perhaps a promotion is coming and you are excited. The boss asks you to come on a business trip and you think this is all part of moving up in the company. The problem is on the business trip the boss does things that indicate he wants to have sex with you. The things include him asking you to come to the lounge late at night for drinks and even asking you to come to his hotel room to see the view from his room. These requests are not being made of male employees or other females. And these are not business related and any reasonable person would know it.

So now you have a real problem. First, how do you reject the sexual harassment by your boss without making him mad. Second, if you reject his sexual advances is he going to take a negative job action against you? If he does this would be retaliation and it is illegal. So what should you do at this point? Contact an aggressive employment lawyer who concentrates on sexual harassment cases so you can get pointers on how best to gather evidence and on how to proceed. Remember the chances are the boss is going to deny engaging in sexual harassment and if it just becomes your word against his, you may lose. The most important thing you can do is save any text messages or emails. You have rights to a discrimination free workplace in Illinois.

September 4, 2012

Vitol and Johnson Controls Settle Retaliation Lawsuit For $62,500

Two companies, VItol Inc. and Johnson Controls, Inc. pay $62,500 to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") claiming the companies engaged in retaliation. According to published accounts the companies unlawfully fired an employee for filing a sex discrimination charge against Vitol. What happened was Lucinda Gonzalez was executive secretary to the president at Vitoal. She was fired by Vitol in July 2008 and subsequently hired by Johnson Controls as a sales assistant.

In late 2008, Gonzalez filed a charge of sex discrimination with the EEOC in good faith against her former employer, Vitol. Shortly after receiving a copy of the charge and learning that the EEOC would not be investigating it further, Vitol forwarded a copy of the charge and the EEOC notice to management at Johnson Controls, where Gonzalez was employed at the time. The very same date that the charge and dismissal were received by Johnson Controls and reviewed by her supervisor, that company made the decision to fire Gonzalez as part of a purported reduction-in-force. I see this all the time where a company makes up an excuse to fire an employee who has complained about discrimination.

"Employees must be assured unfettered access to the remedial mechanisms provided by the EEOC to address discrimination in the workplace. Even if a charge, made in good faith, is not pursued, an employee must be protected from adverse action for filing the charge." said EEOC attorney Jim Sacher
August 30, 2012

Fry's Electronics Pays $2.3 Million To Settle A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Fry's Electronics pays $2.3 million to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company engaged in sexual harassment of a young salesperson. Additionally a supervisor was fired for standing up for her. This would be referred to as retaliation. This type of activity is troubling and costly. If anyone is singled out and given a negative job action as a result of speaking out about sexual harassment or trying to stop it, the company has strict liability.

The facts are that an assistant store manager harassed 20-year-old sales associate America Rios. The sexual harassment included frequently sending her sexually charged text messages and inviting her to his house to drink. This is bad enough but then what happened next was even worse. Her direct supervisor Ka Lam reported the sexual harassment to Fry's legal department and the company fired Lam. He was told that his termination was due to a decline in his performance despite the fact that his work was consistently commended. And for that the company had to pay several million dollars. Let that be a lesson to other companies.

"This was my first job, and I just wanted the harassment to stop. It really meant a lot to have my supervisor speak out for me, and it was horrifying to see him lose his job over it," said Rios.
August 28, 2012

ABCO West Electrical Construction and Design Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $23,000

ABCO West Electrical Construction and Design will pay $23,000 to settle a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Bill Hackney. According to published accounts the company violated the employment rights of Hackney, who has an amputated leg, when it laid him off because of his disability. This would be a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Hackney had requested a reasonable accommodation and was denied. Under the law the company must make a reasonable accommodation.

The retaliation took place when the company laid Mr. Hackney off after he asked for the reasonable accommodation. If there is any negative job action after either complaining about discrimination or asking for a right under the law it is called retaliation. There are a couple of important messages here for employers. First, you should take the requests of your disabled employees seriously. The discrimination laws in place are there for a reason. Second, if you don't take the law seriously, you will end up paying a price for it. Do the right thing and make the reasonable accommodation.

"The ADA protects disabled employees in every industry, including construction." said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill
August 25, 2012

Sexual Harassment For Waitresses In Chicago

So you are working for a restaurant in Chicago and the supervisor is doing more than managing your schedule. He wants you to go out on a date with him. What should you do and is this appropriate? Well, in Illinois there is strict liability on the company if a person in a supervisory position engages in sexual harassment. Additionally, a complaint can be filed against the individual supervisor. This will allow you to go after both the company and person. Now the practical aspect of this is the company is the only one that will have money and therefore usually the company will settle the case for both. Another problem is that if you reject the advances of the supervisor you may have your hours cut or get bad tables which would be retaliation.

So how are you going to prove the supervisor is asking you out on dates? Thanks to technology the best way will be through text messages. It could also be in the form of emails, voicemails and even if it is said in front of other employees--witness testimony. The only problem with witness testimony is the witness may not wish to get involved and therefore they may keep quite. So your best form of evidence will be text messages and emails. What you should do is contact an employment lawyer at once. I suggest one that concentrates in sexual harassment cases. The important point is to keep those text messages, emails and voice mails.

August 24, 2012

In Chicago What Is The Difference Between Constructive Discharge and Retaliation

My Chicago office gets this question often. What is the difference between constructive discharge and retaliation. Well for the purposes of this examples lets utilize a sexual harassment case. So your boss is engaging in sexual harassment and you are rejecting his advances. You told him on more than one occasion that you don't wish to go out on a date with him. He keeps pestering you and now has cut your work hours or demoted you. These would both be examples of retaliation. Basically, any negative job action is considered a retaliation.

On the other hand if the boss just keeps asking you out and otherwise sexually harassing you, but not taking a negative job action against you what is that called? Well it is just sexual harassment. But lets say the sexual harassment is getting so bad that you can't come into work anymore and be around it so you quit. That is called a constructive discharge and for the purposes of the law it is treated as a firing for rejecting the sexual harassment. So both retaliation and constructive discharge are actionable in Illinois and can result in a complaint being filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR").

August 11, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Cases Involving Retaliation

The city of Chicago can be a beautiful place and also for some at work a place of horror. There seems to be an increasing number of bosses that believe they can prey upon their employees and engage in conduct which amounts to sexual harassment. As if were not bad enough, the bosses then engage in retaliation if the employee doesn't have sex or reports the behavior. This of course creates a hostile work environment for not only the employee being harassed but also other employees. Can you imagine what kind of signal this sends to the other employees? Have sex with me or you are going to get fired.

So what can you do when this happens to you in Chicago? The good news is you have multiple options. I prefer to file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") for two reasons. First they cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). And second, they are mandated by law to complete an investigation within one-year. This provides leverage because the other side will have to file a verified response and therefore their position will be locked in.

And don't forget that the retaliation claim is separate from the sexual harassment claim so you have multiple options regarding that claim. The important factor in all of this is your evidence. It is very important that you keep all emails and text messages. These are generally what will be utilized to prove your case. Even if you don't have them, phone logs to be utilized to show a pattern of conduct that indicates sexual harassment. For example if the boss is calling you late at night and on weekends and he isn't calling anyone else during those times. And lastly, make sure you call an good aggressive employment attorney because you can bet the other side will have an attorney protecting their rights.

August 9, 2012

Toyota Dealership Pays $400,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Fremont Toyota pays $400,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after settlement talks failed. The facts of this case are troubling and it is hard to believe a big company engaged in this type of behavior. According to published accounts Fremont Toyota’s general manager singled out four Afghan American salesmen during a staff meeting, calling them “terrorists” and threatening them with violence. This type of behavior is troubling and illegal.

The men did what they were suppose to and reported the harassment to management. However once they did this they faced retaliation by the car dealership. The retaliation came in the form of additional verbal harass­ment and extra job scrutiny. If there is any negative job action after reporting discrimination, it is called retaliation. Finally, the salesmen felt they had no option but to resign--this is called a constructive discharge. The company learned the hard way that you can't treat people like this and you should have better discrimination training for management.

"The irony of this matter is that, after being labeled ‘terrorists’ at our old job, most of us found work with the U.S. military serving in Afghanistan protecting U.S. soldiers from the terrorists," said Mohammad Sawary, one of the former employees.
August 2, 2012

Automotive Group Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $50,000

“Dealin’ Doug” Moreland Automotive Group pays $50,000 to settle a retaliation and sexual harassment lawsuit. This was a little different type of sexual harassment case. According to published accounts the company fired a former employee in retaliation for her participation in a prior Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") sexual harassment lawsuit. Not only does the person who is being sexually harassed have legal protections, but also any employees who cooperate with the investigation.

In this case the worker was a long time employee named Lucille Fancher who complained to manage­ment about a sexually hostile work environment and was a participant entitled to a portion of the settlement in the prior sexual harassment lawsuit. However the company decided to tell her that if she took her portion of the settlement money she would be terminated and in fact terminated her. This is a violation of Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964. The company ended up paying more money to her and should have just left the woman alone.

“If companies are allowed to retaliate against employees just because they report harassment or offer testimony, or participate in the settlement of an employment discrimination claim, then we cannot expect people to speak out against injustice,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.
July 31, 2012

Huntington Ingalls, Inc. Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $80,000

Huntington Ingalls, Inc. pays $80,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, the company fired Walter Strickland and Brian Glover after they provided written statements about another employee who was engaging in discriminatory conduct. Another words, they were being good employees and just speaking the truth.

When there is a hostile work environment at work and employees try to rectify the problem by reporting the conduct to management they are protected. In this case that is exactly what took place. These two employees were just doing what they were suppose to do. The company tried to silence those that came forward, which is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the end the company probably lost two good employees and had to pay a good amount of money.

“An employee’s ability to report conduct believed to be discriminatory without fear of reprisal is fundamental to creating workplaces free of discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
July 29, 2012

Retaliation By Employer In Chicago For Not Going Out With The Boss

You are at work doing a great job and the boss keeps asking you out. He is constantly at your desk and spends way too much time in your business. He is married and you know he only wants one thing--sex. This by itself is sexual harassment and you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they will cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). But there is more. What is going to happen in most cases is the boss is going to want to get rid of you. That's right. He is going to try and get you fired. Why you say? Because you aren't going to sleep with him and he is afraid you will spill the beans about him at work.

Additionally, he wants to hire someone else who may speak with him. The boss making up reasons to fire you is called retaliation. It is retaliation because you are rejecting the sexual advances. If you don't file with the IDHR you will run the risk of missing the window for filing. It is very important that you protect your rights and don't delay. My Chicago office sees this all the time. People wait too long and they can't protect themselves. Call an employment lawyer and learn your employment rights.

July 27, 2012

Kids R Us, LLC Pays $75,000 To Settle A Retaliation Lawsuit

Kids R Us, LLC, pays $75,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Shawna Capps. According to documents which have been made public, Capps was hired in July 2009 and told her manager she was pregnant in early March 2010. Under the law you cannot make any negative employment actions against an employee just because they are pregnant. A very short time after Capps told management she was pregnant she was demoted, but not because of job performance issues. This would be the basis for the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.

Capps then filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC against the company. A very short time later the company transferred her to a new location that was much further away. This was done to force her to quit. As if that weren't bad enough, her cousin and sister also worked for the company and they were fired for no reason. It was obvious that this was all done because she filed a pregnancy discrimination case against the company. When this type of discriminatory activity takes place you should contact a veteran employment attorney to protect your rights.

"Pregnancy does not equal inability to work, and no employee should be punished for complaining about illegal treatment of a coworker; or worse yet, simply being related to or closely associated with a coworker who complains,” said EEOC attorney Patrick J. Holman.
July 25, 2012

Sexual Harassment By A Former Supervisor

So you are in Chicago and your supervisor is engaging in sexual harassment. You can't really say anything because you are afraid you are going to be punished if you do. The legal term is called retaliation. So in this case you would have a cause of action against the company because the supervisor engaging in sexual harassment transfers liability onto the company. However, what happens if the supervisor gets a promotion and still harasses you? Is there strict liability on the company at this point? The answer is yes. You should immediately call a good employment attorney and take the next step.

The next step would be to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and as long as the new harassment is within 180 days you can go as far back as you want because it is continuing harassment. Also the IDHR will cross-file the complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and this keeps your federal options open. It is very important to have proof and to save text messages and emails as your case will live or die based on this. You have to remember that the supervisor is probably going to claim you are just friends and he is being nice and not harassing you. This is where his own words on the text messages and emails will come back to haunt him. Remember, you don't have to be the victim of predators at work. You have legal rights.

July 23, 2012

Endoscopic Microsurgery Associates Pays $350,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Endoscopic Microsurgery Associates pays $350,000 in compensatory and punitive damages to three former employees who were subjected to sexual harassment by the chief executive officer and the chief financial officer. Whow can you believe people in this high a position were doing this to employees? Well apparently they were. The sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). These types of large amounts are rare but seem to be occuring more often. These types of cases also takes years before they get to trial.

According to published accounts receptionist Linda Luz was repeatedly subjected to unwanted sexual advances and a sexually hostile work environment by CEO Dr. Mark Noar and CFO Martin Virga. I bet these two are looking for new jobs. It always amazes me that people this high up can act so stupid. After Luz repeatedly rejected the advances, the company began retaliating against her by issuing to her unwarranted discipline and rescinding approved leave, which eventually culminated in her retaliatory termination. This also happened to two other women who worked for the company. Study coordinator Jacqueline Huskins similarly experienced unwanted sexual advances from Noar and Virga, as did nurse Kimberly Hutchinson.

“This verdict is significant because it reminds high-level officials who function as the employer that their high level does not give them license to abuse women – they must treat employees as professionals,” said EEOC attorney Debra Lawrence.
July 19, 2012

McDonalds Franchisee Pays $1,000,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Missoula Mac, Inc., the owner and franchisee of 25 McDonald’s restaurants pays $1,000,000 to settle a class sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of females workers. According to published accounts male employees created a hostile work environment of sexual harassment against female co-workers, some of whom were teenagers. Whow it is really bad when they start to engage in sexual harassment against teenagers. And to make matters worse the company engaged in retaliation against those who complained about sexual harassment.

To show you how long these cases can take this case started in 2006. During that time everal male employees subjected female co-workers to sexual harassment. The sexual harassment included comments, kissing, touching of their private areas, and forcing their hands onto the men’s private parts. I guess they were making more than happy meals at this restaurant. The company did nothint to stop the harassment and forced at least one employee to quit--which is referred to as a constructive discharge. You can see how much money sexual harassment cases can cost if you try and sweep them under the rug.

“This is a sad case, demonstrating again that sexual harassment is still a challenge for women at some of our most successful, best known brands.” said EEOC attorney John P. Rowe
July 11, 2012

Chicago Retaliation Cases At the Illinois Department Of Human Rights

So you are at work in downtown Chicago and you witness some type of discrimination at work and report it to management. You think that this makes you a good employee and you are following company policy. But ever since you reported the discrimination management has been nit-picking your work performance. In fact you just recently received a negative job performance and can't understand why. The reason you finally figure out is because you reported the discrimination and now the company is engaging in retaliation. What should you do? Do you have any rights in Illinois? The answer is yes and here is what you should do

Call a good employment lawyer and file a complaint of retaliation with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is mandated by state law to complete an investigation of your complaint within one-year. The IDHR will also cross-file your complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This will give you the best level of protection and allow you to seek damages for lost wages, lost benefits, future loss of wages, attorney fees and money for emotional distress. The important point is to act fast as in Chicago and the rest of Illinois, you only have 180 days from the date of the discrimination to file with the IDHR.

July 4, 2012

Guimarra Vineyards Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $350,000

Giumarra Vineyards settles a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit for $350,000. The multi-count discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). As part of the settlement the company agreed to institute a massive training program geared toward educating the mostly Hispanic workforce on sexual harassment.

According to published accounts a 17-year-old female migrant worker was sexually harassed by a supervisor while she was working in the vineyards. Other workers who came forward to her aid were subjected to retaliation. This type of activity is typical in company's anymore. They like to silence anyone who is not supporting the company position. In this case the company should have taken the sexual harassment complaint in a more serious fashion.

“We encourage all workers to report sexual harassment and retaliation with the EEOC." said EEOC attorney Melissa Barrios.
July 3, 2012

Holiday Inn Express Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $90,000

Holiday Inn Express pays $90,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after initial settlement talks broke down. According to published accounts, the hotel subjected several female employees to a sexually hostile work environment at the hotel. Additionally, one female employee was fired after complaining about the sexual harassment--this is called retaliation.

The three females subjected to sexual harassment were Tamara Byrd, Pamela Kral, and Billie Jones. Over a period of almost two years the hotel’s male general manager subjected the women to sexual comments and sexual advances. As if this were not bad enough he also touched the women in a sexual nature. The company did not take any of the complaints seriously and did nothing to stop the sexual harassment. This type of activity and behavior by the company is regrettable and will always result in liability. The company should have taken immediate action.

"Sexual harassment in the workplace will simply not be tolerated,” “An employer is obligated to maintain a workplace free of harassment.”said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
June 20, 2012

John Hopkins Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $160,000

Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, Inc. ("JHHCG") pays $160,000 to settle an Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts JHHCG violated the ADA when it discriminated against an employee because of her disability--breast cancer. The complaint also alleged the company failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation for her disability. If that were not bad enough the company also engaged in retaliation when she filed her EEOC complaint.

The employees name was Ray Ellen Fisher, a registered nurse. Fisher was diagnosed with breast cancer and her medical treatment required that she take leave shortly thereafter. Following Fisher’s period of leave, when she was cleared to return to work, JHHCG failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation that would have allowed her to return to work despite her limited restrictions – restrictions that were progressively phased out.

“Thanks to improvements in treatment and early detection, millions of women are surviving breast cancer today,” said EEOC attorney Debra M. Lawrence

Continue reading "John Hopkins Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $160,000" »

June 8, 2012

Starr's Mill Academy and Preschool Center Pays $40,000 To Settle A Retaliation Lawsuit

Starr’s Mill Academy and Preschool Center pays $40,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The employment law case was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, Starr’s Mill subjected former employee Hazel Matthews-Forte to unlawful retaliation when it filed a lawsuit against her alleging that she made fraudulent statements about Starr’s Mill in her EEOC discrimination charge. This is a very troubling matter and will always result in a retaliation lawsuit.

In what I consider to be a wild serious of events, Starr’s Mill filed a third-party complaint against the attorney it had retained to file the lawsuit against Matthews-Forte. You never see this type of activity in a case. This just goes to show you that sometimes these cases can turn out to be real messes. The employer claimed that the attorney gave it improper advice on filing the lawsuit against the former employee. Glad the whole thing got straightened out.

"Cases of this type are extremely rare – employers generally don’t retaliate against employees after the employment relationship has ended, and certainly not by filing lawsuits against them,” said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins
May 22, 2012

Gaurdsmark Pays $25,000 To Settle A Retaliation Lawsuit

Guardsmark pays $25,000 to settle a national origin and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a security guard from East India. According to published accounts a co-worker would repeatedly make derogatory comments about the East Indian guard and also make comments about the mans age--66. This type of activity is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA").

It is further alleged that Guardsmark not only ignored the employee’s reports of discrimination, but engaged in retaliation against him with an involuntary transfer. You cannot take a negative job action against an employee who complains of discrimination. In this case that is exactly what Guardsmark did. In my opinion the company got off with paying a minimal amount of money. They are very lucky they settled when they did. If the guard was successful at trial he could be awarded his attorney fees which would be substantial by the time this case went to trial.

“I am glad I reported my case to the EEOC and glad to put this behind me,” said the former security guard. “I hope my case will help others understand that an employer has an obligation to ensure a workplace free of harassment.”
May 21, 2012

Purusing A Retaliation Claim At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

So your former boss engaged in retaliation against you when you spoke up about sexual harassment in the workplace. The retaliation ended up being a demotion and loss of pay. You contacted an employment laywer and filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR found substantial evidence and now you are filing with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial. What can you expect? How long will it take? What are your chances?

Well, generally it will take about a year before your case will actually get heard by an administrative law judge at the IHRC. The other side would file a verified answer, then the attorney's meet with the judge to set a discovery schedule and engage in discovery. After discovery is complete, either side can file dispositive motions. Only after those motions are ruled on are you ready for trial. You chances will depend on the facts of your case. It will also depend on how good the discovery requests are and what you receive from the other side during discovery. This is why you should never go it alone. Discovery is very important to the outcome of a discrimination case.

May 18, 2012

EEOC Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With Mid Valley Labor Services Inc.

Mid Valley Labor Services, Inc., pays $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of females employees. According to published accounts female employees working in grape vineyards were subjected to sexually explicit language while they attempted to do their jobs. To make matters worse their male crew supervisor propositioned them for sex. That would form the basis for the sexual harassment claim. If a supervisor is engaging in sexual harassment there is strict liability on the employer. You can see why a company should invest in sexual harassment training.

For the retaliation claim two women who objected to the harassment were fired. If you complain about discrimination, including sexual harassment and a negative job action is taken against you, it is called retaliation. So in this case there were two types of discrimination and the company had to pay a large amount to settle this case. I am always amazed at how little training companies offer their employees, especially management type employees. In the end if you engage in sexual harassment and you allow your management people to engage in it or support it you will end up paying money.

"The agricultural industry, with a largely immigrant workforce, employs many women who are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment,” said EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo.
May 16, 2012

Filing A Retaliation Complaint In Chicago

So you are at work in Chicago and things seem to be going well. However, your boss is making inappropriate comments to one of your female co-workers. You witness this each day but keep your mouth shut because you don't wish to rock the boat. The female co-worker takes it for months and finally she complains to human resources and files a sexual harassment complaint. As part of the human resource investigation they call you and and talk with you about what you may have witnessed. You tell the truth and support her claim. You don't think about it and continue doing a good job. But now you have a problem.

All of a sudden you are being given a negative performance review out of the blue. And management is telling you that if you don't shape up you are going to be fired. What is happening? This happens all too often. It is called retaliation. In Illinois it is a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") and you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") based on retaliation. Even though you are not the one complaining about the sexual harassment you can still file a complaint. It isn't enough for you to complain to human resources. You must file with the IDHR if you wish to get protection. And remember, human resources are the ones who are engaging in retaliation with the negative performance review so how much help are they going to give? Protect yourself if you are in this type of situation and understand you have rights.

May 1, 2012

Golf International Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $25,000

Golf International settles a retaliation lawsuit for $25,000. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Jeffrey White. According to published accounts the company fired White one day after he submitted an internal complaint reporting sexual harassment. He reported that several female employees felt they had been sexually harassed by the head chef. This happens quite often. The company fired the messenger of bad news. After White filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC, the company offered to hire White back if he dropped his EEOC charge.

Many times people are afraid to come forward for this reason. They try to do the right thing and it ends up costing them their job. In this tough economy this really hurts. I am glad the EEOC was able to hold the company to the law and make them pay Mr. White. My Chicago offices gets many calls like this. Make sure you don't let companies push you around. Protect your employment rights and document everything at work.

“Employment discrimination cannot be stopped or corrected if employees do not feel free to report it,” EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill said.
April 24, 2012

Chicago Office Workers and Retaliation Claims

My Chicago office seems to be getting more and more calls from employees working downtown who believe they have been the victim of retaliation. In Illinois, if you complain about discrimination at work or if you cooperate with a discrimination investigation at work and have any negative job action taken against you, you probably have a retaliation claim. For some unknown reason employers just don't like to treat employees well when they complain about employment discrimination. They like to shoot the messenger and get rid of employees who they deem troublemakers.

My advice to you is seek out an experienced and aggressive employment lawyer if you are having trouble at work. You can bet your employer has good legal advice and they are going to do what is in their best interest. Don't get hoodwinked and taken advantage of by human resource departments and business executives. The company has one main goal and that is to maximize profits. Don't forget there are strict time limits for filing discrimination and retaliation claims so act fast. At the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") you only have 180 days from the last date of discrimination to file a claim.

April 21, 2012

Chicago Employment Discrimination Tips For Workers

So you are working in downtown Chicago and now after doing such a great job you now have a problem. You are the victim of what you perceive to be employment discrimination and you don't know what to do. In Chicago, discrimination in the workplace is governed by the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). The Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") is tasked with investigating claims of discrimination under the Act. My office regularly practices at the IDHR and having an experienced attorney discuss your options is a good first start. There are many nuances during the investigation process that can mean the difference between your case being taken to the next level. In this case the next level would be for a trial at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The IHRC is where an administrative law judge either finds in your favor or against you. If she finds in your favor you can collect lost wages, attorney fees, and money for emotional distress.

It is very important that you properly document what is taking place at work if you believe you are the victim of employment discrimination. Some types of documentation are emails, text messages, voice messages, the names of witnesses and items like performance reviews. If the boss gives you great performance reviews prior to the discrimination and then you get fired, it would seem obvious that you are the victim of retaliation and the paper trail of performance reviews would be great evidence. My office never charges to discuss your employment related discrimination case. Protect yourself at work and don't let the company's lawyers and human resource personnel dictate your rights.

April 20, 2012

Bankers Asset Management Inc. Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $600,000

Bankers Asset Management, Inc., pays $600,000 to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEOC") on behalf of black job applications. In Illinois there are three races which qualify for racial discrimination under the law. Those are white, black and Asian. Hispanic is not considered a race but rather a national origin or ancestry for purposes of discrimination law. An experienced employment lawyer can help file your discrimination lawsuit and determine what to file under.

According to documents which have been made public the company retaliated against other employees and former employees for opposing or testifying about the racial discrimination. In some cases employees were demoted and one was even forced out of her job. To make matters worse, some were even sued in state court. I really can't believe this type of activity took place. You can see how the EEOC made this company pay and didn't allow them to continue this obscene practice.

“Excluding qualified individuals from job opportunities because of their race or in retaliation for exercising protected rights are fundamental violations of the laws we enforce,” said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez.
April 17, 2012

Sexual Harassment Cases Increasing For Warehouse Workers

There seems to be increasing sexual harassment claims for people with warehouse type jobs. The increase could be due to a number of factors but the most likely is the bad economy and lack of proper discrimination training. Many workers probably feel like they shouldn't complain for fear of losing their job. Of course if you get fired for reporting sexual harassment you would have an additional claim of retaliation. Despite this fact many companies that have warehouses don't seem to be providing adequate training on sexual harassment and discrimination in general. This trickles down to the managers and then the workers.

April 16, 2012

Victims of Sexual Harassment Seven Times More Likely To Leave Company

A new study out claims that people who file complaints of sexual harassment are seven times more likely to either quit or get fired from their company. Compare this to only ten percent of the people engaging in the sexual harassment leaving the company. What this study shows is that companies are not taking sexual harassment seriously. Getting fired for reporting sexual harassment is called retaliation and it seems to be taking place often. And if the working conditions get so bad after reporting sexual harassment that the person must leave, it is called a constructive discharge. In either case, it is just wrong that a victim of sexual harassment has to leave her job.

The study was conducted by the Work For Life at the University of Southern Australia. The study also claims that the average payout for a victim of sexual harassment is $7,000. This number is misleading in my opinion. One reason is each case is different and many cases are settled with a confidentiality clause so the real payout amount in many cases is unknown and therefore unaccounted for in this study. Another interesting point the study makes is that many sexual harassment claims are poorly handled inside the organization. The task of investigating a sexual harassment complaint would usually fall to the human resources department. What is clear from the study is that if you are the victim of sexual harassment contact an employment lawyer and protect your rights.

April 14, 2012

Cheesecake Factory Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The Cheesecake Factory settles a sexual harassment lawsuit for an undisclosed amount of money. This particular Cheesecake Factory is located in Woodland Hills. According to already published accounts Vanessa Lopez alleged her supervisors sexually harassed her and then fired her for complaining. When someone is fired for complaining about sexual harassment it is referred to as retaliation. In Illinois if you are the victim of sexual harassment or retaliation you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). This type of activity happens all too often. A person complains about sexual harassment and then a negative job action follows--in this case her termination. And the most troubling aspect of this is that the person who did the sexual harassment continues to work for the company.


Lopez started working at the Cheesecake Factory when she was 18, and was a good employee for three years prior to complaining about sexual harassment. In her sexual harassment complaint Lopez alleges general manager David Allen made inappropriate comments about Lopez's appearance, her body and even her scent. To make matters worse, he began touching her and sending her unwanted text messages. When she told him to stop her laughed and did not stop. Apparently he wasn't the only one that engaged in sexual harassment, she also claimed the executive kitchen manager Anastacio Rodriguez touched her. The company claims they fired her for issues unrelated to the sexual harassment claim. They allegedly caught her on video stealing tips that belonged to another colleague from the tip jar. I am always suspect about such claims and wonder why there wasn't a police report or why they would settle a case if they had such good evidence.

April 9, 2012

Tactics Chicago Human Resource Departments Use in Sexual Harassment Cases

So you are working hard at your workplace in the loop in Chicago and the boss starts to engage in sexual harassment. First it is comments about how sexy you look, then it is invitations to lunch and events after work. He is even texting you late at night and the text messages seem inappropriate. You go into work and tell human resources about it. What should you expect from human resources? Well they should do an investigation into the allegations. And they shouldn't engage in retaliation against you for reporting the sexual harassment. The problem is, that isn't always the case. Many times human resources circles the wagons and blames the victim. I am not sure what the reasoning is for this but believe it is an attempt to deflect potential blame from the management of the company--which would include human resources.

In reality here is what my Chicago offices sees often in sexual harassment complaints. The human resource department claims they will investigate and tells the victim to go back to work. The victim of harassment then starts getting negative job actions and a hostile work environment at work. I see the human resource department drag out their investigation for long periods of time. They may claim that key people are unavailable or they are waiting on telephone records. What they are really doing is allowing more than 180 days to expire so you can't file a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). So be very careful after you make a sexual harassment complaint at work.. Consult with an experienced sexual harassment attorney so you know your rights and don't fall victim to the tactis of the human resource departments.

April 1, 2012

AutoZone Inc. Pays $75,000 To Settle A Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

AutoZone, Inc., pays $75,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts of the alleged discrimination AutoZone subjected Frank Mahoney Burroughs, an employee who had converted to the Sikh religion, to harassment and refused to accommodate his religious need to wear a turban. As long as wearing the turban would not affect his work performance, a reasonable accommodation needed to be made.

Details of the lawsuit include AutoZone managers harassing Burroughs by disparaging his religion, and asking if he had joined Al-Qaeda. Those type of comments are well over the line and inappropriate. They also asked if he was a terrorist. It even got worse for Burroughs as customers would refer to him as Bin Laden and made terrorist jokes. It must have been very hard to go to work every day under this type of pressure. The last straw was when AutoZone terminated him because of his religion and in retaliation for asking for an accommodation and complaining about discrimination.

“It is plainly unlawful as well as cruel and counter-productive to harass employees or co-workers because of their religion,” said EEOC attorney Elizabeth Grossman.
March 31, 2012

Cadillac Jack Inc. Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $87,500

Cadillac Jack, Inc. pays $87,200 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Tracey Tucker. According to information published on the EEOC website, Cadillac Jack fired Tracey Tucker, an African-American, from her position as contracts manager in retaliation for her complaining about racial discrimination and gender discrimination.

Tucker was terminated one day after lodging the discrimination complaint. Talk about a stupid policy. Most companies at least have the sense to wait a little while before firing an employee after they complain about discrimination. By firing her so soon after she complained about discrimination, the company made a pretty obvious statement. It is troubling that companies don't take discrimination complaints in a more serious fashion. I am glad the EEOC was able to obtain such a large settlement.

“The EEOC filed this lawsuit in large part due to the timing of the complaint and termination,” said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins
March 25, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Complaints At The IDHR

Well the figures for fiscal year 2011 are in and there were 417 sexual harassment complaints filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") last year. The majority were filed in Chicago at the IDHR offices in the Thompson Center. Now most of these charges also included additional basis of discrimination, most notably retaliation. The reason for this is most companies don't do the right thing once a sexual harassment complaint is filed and they take a negative job action against the complaining employee. Additionally, if during the company investigation someone comes forward as a witness and they receive a negative job action, they would have their own retaliation claim. Remember when you file a sexual harassment complaint with the IDHR, it is automatically cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") if you check the appropriate box on the IDHR cover sheet.

By having the complaint filed with both the IDHR and EEOC you have two great options. If you stay with the IDHR and a finding of substantial evidence is awarded, you can filed directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial or file your case in the local circuit court. If you take the EEOC path you can file a lawsuit in federal court. How you proceed will generally depend on the facts of the case. It is very important to have the facts in your case evaluated by an experienced and aggressive employment lawyer. In Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois my office never charges to discuss your employment discrimination case.

March 19, 2012

Chicago Employers Engaging In Retaliation

Employers in Chicago are still in a buyers market. There are far more people looking for work than there are jobs. This gives employers the upper hand and from my vantage point they are taking full advantage of it. This means they seem to be treating employees less than stellar. It is a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") to discriminate against an employee by having a member of management engage in sexual harassment or to engage in retaliation if the employee complains. If either of these occur, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is the state agency that is tasked with investigating charges of employment discrimination.

If you file a complaint with the IDHR, the case will be governed by the Act. Under the Act, you can ask for damages that include lost wages, future lost wages, lost benefits, attorney fees, damages for emotional distress and reimbursement for medical bills attributed to the discriminatory conduct. It is important to speak with an employment attorney as soon as possible to protect your employment related rights. Remember, while the tide is still in favor in employers, you can expect to receive less than stellar treatment. Protect yourself and act fast.

March 18, 2012

When The Boss In Chicago Asks You Out Is It Sexual Harassment?

So you are at work in downtown Chicago and your boss asks you out on a date--what should you do? Well for the sake of this article lets say you don't wish to go out with him. Think about the position this puts you in. If you turn him down, you may believe he will take it out on you at work. Depending on the circumstances you may be the victim of sexual harassment. In Illinois there is strict liability against a company if a member of management engages in conduct which rises to the level of sexual harassment. So is asking you out one time sexual harassment? The short answer is yes it could be. A more thorough examination of the facts would be required.

What should you do if you boss asks you out and you turn him down? Contact my Chicago office for a free consultation on your employment rights. It is important you act fast because if you don't there is a chance the boss may take a negative job action against you months later and say it is because of poor performance. If you file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") after the negative job action, the company will argue it is sour grapes. However, if you file a complaint with the IDHR for sexual harassment when the harassment occurs, you will negate that defense. If after you file your sexual harassment complaint there is a negative job action, you will have a second complaint called retaliation. This would give you two charges with the IDHR. Protect your employment rights and act fast.

March 17, 2012

Peter LaSorsa Lectures At ISBA Seminar On LItigating Employment Issues

Attorney Peter LaSorsa was one of five attorneys who lectured for the Illinois State Bar Association ("ISBA") on litigating employment cases in Chicago. The focus of the full-day March 15, 2012 lecture was on the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and included fact-patterns involving sexual harassment cases and retaliation. The lecture was attended by attorneys from around the state of Illinois. Attorney LaSorsa's portion was dedicated to cases from a plaintiff or complainant's perspective. Issues regarding discovery, settlement and selection of venue were discussed.

The lecture also covered taking sexual harassment and other types of discrimination cases to the Chicago Commission on Human Relations ("CCHR"). There are many complicated factors that go into deciding where to file a case. With the CCHR you may be entitled to receive punitive damages among the other damages you can received if you file at the IDHR and follow that trajectory. The important issue is to consult with an experienced employment lawyer and ensure you get maximum benefit from your case.

March 13, 2012

Atsalis Brothers Painting Company Settles Retaliation Lawsuit With EEOC For $65,000

Atsalis Brothers Painting Company pays $65,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC') on behalf of Rodney Trice. According to published accounts Atsalis retaliated against Trice for objecting to racial discrimination. Trice worked for Atsalis as a painter and his foreman would call him the N-word among other things. This type of behavior is not acceptable and illegal. It must have been very hard for Trice to come into work each day and listen to that type of garbage.

Trice complained to management about this behavior and nothing was done to stop it. In fact Trice was not hired the next season which amounts to retaliation. It is illegal for an employer to take a negative job action against someone who is opposing discrimination. In this case, complaining about the derogatory language was opposing the racial discrimination. Paying this large amount of money should make Atsalis think twice about taking discrimination so lightly. Trice was right to stand up for his employment rights.

“The right of an employee to object to discriminatory conduct without fear of being punished by his employer is fundamental to ensuring equal employment opportunity,” said EEOC Attorney Dale Price.
March 8, 2012

Gerrescheimer Peachtree City Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $90,000

Gerresheimer Peachtree City pays $90,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of former employee Donna McLeod. According to published accounts Peachtree terminated McLeod from her position as a quality assurance manager in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC. If you file a charge with the EEOC or in Chicago the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") you are protected from firing based on filing that charge.

This initially started when McLeod complained to human resources about gender discrimination based on unequal wages. This is called unequal terms and conditions of employment. There was an internal investigation and the company concluded there was no discrimination. Hearing of this finding McLeod filed a charge with the EEOC. Within six weeks of receiving notice of the discrimination charge filed with the EEOC, Peachtree terminated McLeod for purportedly misusing leave time. This was used as a pretext to fire McLeod. The alleged real reason for his firing was that he filed a complaint with the EEOC.

“All too often employers look for any opportunity to fire employees who exert their rights under federal civil rights law,” said EEOC Attorney Robert Dawkins.
March 6, 2012

Retaliation in Chicago Against Employees Who Cooperate With Investigations

So you are at work in Chicago and your human resource department calls you into the office to ask questions about an alleged sexual harassment incident that doesn't involve you directly. Could this end up being a problem for you? The short answer is maybe. It shouldn't be a problem because under the law you are protected when you cooperate during a discrimination investigation. However, that isn't always what takes place in the workplace. Many companies view an employee who is truthful as a problem if that employee is giving evidence against the company. I know this doesn't sound right but it happens all the time.

If you are working in Chicago and this happens to you all isn't lost. You can file a discrimination complaint based on retaliation with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the claim and issue either a notice of substantial evidence or lack thereof. The important fact is the Illinois Human Rights Act affords you protections in employment. It is very imperative that you speak with an employment lawyer to ensure your employment rights are being protected.

February 28, 2012

Hurricane Grill and Wings Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $200,000

A company doing business as Hurricane Grill and Wings and owned by 441 S.B., LLC pays $200,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of multiple female employers. In what can only be viewed as shocking events, Hurricane Grill allowed female servers to be sexually harassed by a customer, a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy. As if this weren't bad enough when the female workers complained to management nothing was done. And in fact, the company fired a female server after management learned she had hired a private attorney to assist her in filing an EEOC complaint. This is referred to as retaliation and is a violation of the law.

Details of the lawsuit include servers being frequently grabbed on their breasts and buttocks. Can you imagine coming to work every day and having to put up with this type of behavior? It is horrible that women were treated in this manner. Additionally, female workers were subjected to sexual comments and the harasser even tried to get the females to have sex with him and his wife. After paying this large amount in settlement I bet the company will take sexual harassment more serious in the future. I am glad to see the females didn't give up and made the company admit their mistakes.

“The Commission remains poised to enforce Title VII and it will actively pursue flagrant violations such as this one. Employees should feel safe at work and employers must protect their employees from a sexually hostile work environment.” Said EEOC Attorney Malcolm Medley
February 23, 2012

Chicago Area Jimmy's Charhouse Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $200,000

Jimmy’s Charhouse of Elgin pays $200,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of eight female employees. According to court documents, some of the female waitresses and hostesses were sexually harassed by members of management. Some of the details of the sexual harassment included crude sexual comments and groping. There was even attempts to engage in sex.

One of the alleged victims claimed that she was terminated after refusing the sexual advances of her manager which is called retaliation. It is illegal to take a negative job action against an employee because the employee refuses to engage in discriminatory conduct or if the employee opposes discriminatory conduct. Under the terms of the decree, which is part of the settlement, Jimmy’s Charhouse is also enjoined from further subjecting any employee to a hostile work environment or retaliating against any employee who opposes discrimination.

“Too often we hear about rampant sexual harassment of restaurant employees, where waitresses appear to be fair game,” said EEOC attorney John Hendrickson “We want the message to get out: Sexual harassment is illegal, whether it’s in the boardroom or at your neighborhood restaurant.”


February 22, 2012

Retaliation Claim With Illinois Department Of Human Rights

What happens in Chicago when you file a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and you are then fired at work? Well the short answer is you need to file an additional complaint with the IDHR for retaliation. According to the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") which controls, you have a separate discrimination claim if you are fired for opposing unlawful discrimination. In this case filing a sexual harassment complaint would be the discrimination. Even if the underlying discrimination claim is found to have no merit the retaliation claim would stand on its' own.

So what does this mean to you? It is important that you understand you have legal rights against having any negative job action taken against you for filing a claim of discrimination with the IDHR. This also applies if you are the witness to a discrimination claim or if you participate in an internal discrimination investigation at work. So for example if you are called into the Human Resources office and asked about a sexual harassment incident involving other employees and you give an answer that hurts the company and they take a negative job action, you have a retaliation claim.

February 14, 2012

What Makes A Hostile Work Environment At Work In Chicago

When you are at work what creates a hostile work environment in Chicago? If you are the victim of sexual harassment a hostile work environment will be created not just for you but for other employees too. Other employees who can hear and see the harassment are being subjected to the hostile work environment not just you. Additionally, anyone who acts as a witness during an investigation and is subjected to any type of negative action is not only in a hostile work environment but also has a claim of retaliation. When this happens there are a few things to keep in mind. First document everything that is taking place. Include the names of people who may have witnessed the harassment and the dates and times it took place. Second, gather any written evidence like emails, text messages and written messages. Lastly, file a written report about the sexual harassment to human resources.

The next step would be to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is responsible for investigating the complaint and determining whether there is substantial evidence to take the charge to the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial. Companies are getting more aggressive and are not respecting the legal employment rights of employees. It is very important that you have someone on your side that knows employment law and fights hard for you. Don't be the victim of a hostile work environment in Chicago.

February 13, 2012

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits In Chicago

You are working in the loop in downtown Chicago and your boss is hitting on you. What are you suppose to do? Do you just put up with it and not say anything? If you complain will you lose your job? What proof are you going to be able to present that will make others believe your story? These are all good questions that need to be asked and answered. My Chicago office gets these questions all the time. You need to try and document the sexual harassment as soon as it starts. The documentation could be emails, text messages or written messages. Evidence may also include witnesses or voice messages.

The important thing is that you do something. Remember if you shoot the boss down enough he may start to write you up for performance issues and then where will you be? If you start complaining about retaliation after you get written up it may look like sour grapes. I find the best course of action is to file a complaint right away with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). By filing first before any negative job actions, you take away the defense of sour grapes. Remember it is very important that you protect your employment rights and not let the sexual harasser get away with it.

February 7, 2012

Sangria' Mexican Cafe Must Pay $51,700 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A federal jury awarded $51,700 in back pay, compensatory and punitive damages to four family members who were fired for resisting sexual harassment at Sangria's Mexican Cafe. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of waitress Lauren Goldston. According to published accounts Goldston opposed sexual harassment and complained about unwelcome sexual advances, remarks, and inappropriate touching by a male cook at the restaurant.

To make matters worse, Goldston’s mother, Sara, aunt, Francesca, and uncle, Max, also worked at Sangria’s. Once they found out what was going on they reported the sexual harassment to Sangria’s’ owner. However nothing was done by the owner to stop the sexual harassment. In fact the sexual harassment created a hostile work environment for all those who were involved. Sangria’s terminated all of the Goldstons in retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment.

“This verdict is significant because it indicates to employers that, regardless of their size, they must afford their employees the statutorily protected right to oppose unlawful discrimination without the fear of retaliation,” said EEOC attorney Bernice Williams Kimbrough.

Continue reading "Sangria' Mexican Cafe Must Pay $51,700 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit" »

February 3, 2012

College Student Settles Sexual Harassment Case For $130,000

A college student at the University of Iowa settled her sexual harassment lawsuit for $130,000. According to published documents, the University settled the case in order to move forward and put this behind them. The professor accused of the sexual harassment, Arthur Miller, committed suicide after being charged criminally in this case. He apparently would ask female students to show their breasts and do other sexual type activity in return for good grades. He seemed to target seniors who would be moving out of state after they graduated. This type of activity is very troubling.

When one of the college students came forward and complained the university tried to sweep the matter under the rug. As is typical in these types of investigations the university offers a nominal amount to settle the case. They initially offered $1,000 to settle the sexual harassment case. Talk about an insult. It is amazing that the university actually offered this low amount. You can see why it is very important to get an attorney involved in this type of case early. Protect your rights if you are a student in school and the victim of sexual harassment. In this case the professor was engaging in retaliation also because he changed the grade of one student from an A to a B after she complained about the sexual harassment.

February 1, 2012

Fire Departments Pays $494,150 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The Los Angeles City Fire Department pays $494,150 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. According to published accounts firefighter Anthony Almeida was sexually harassed and complained to management. After management refused to intervene he went to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") who filed a complaint on his behalf. The allegations included deeply offensive comments of a sexual and religious nature. The behavior of the co-workers was very cruel and has no place in the workplace.

The problem started when Almeida filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Church regarding sexual abuse he suffered by a priest. One coworker learned that Almeida had filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Church over the abuse, and several coworkers mocked him for that, using explicit and offensive religious and sexual epithets. To make matters worse management engaged in retaliation against Almeida in the form of discipline for his participation in another equal employment opportunity investigation. You can see how much money this type of behavior can cost.

“We are pleased that the Los Angeles City Fire Department is demonstrating its commitment toward creating a workplace free of harassment and retaliation,” said EEOC attorney Olophius Perry.
January 17, 2012

Findlay Honda Pays $150,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Findlay Honda will pay $150,000 to settle a retaliation and racial discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed on behalf of to two black employees by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts a parts department manager made racially derogatory comments and jokes on a near-daily basis to the two black employees. I know it is hard to believe this type of behavior takes place but it does. Not only did that happen but he also imposed stricter work-related rules on black employees. This type of discrimination is referred to as different terms and conditions.

Two black employees were eventually fired, one after communicating that he was going to file a discrimination charge against the company. This is referred to as retaliation. If you have a negative job action taken against you after complaining about discrimination you have a valid retaliation claim. The amount paid by the company shows they realize they did something wrong and want this to go away. I am glad the EEOC made the company pay up and helped the two workers get some satisfaction.

“We commend Shack-Findlay Automotive for taking proactive measures to ensure a workplace free of discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Anna Y. Park
January 15, 2012

What Do You Do When You Get Fired After Reporting Sexual Harassment In Chicago?

My Chicago offices gets calls all the time from people who report sexual harassment at work and then get fired. Sometimes they don't get fired but get demoted or the boss starts to really put the screws to them. In any event they get a negative job action after reporting the sexual harassment. In Illinois this is referred to as retaliation. If this happens to you at work, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is tasked with investigating complaints of sexual harassment, retaliation and other forms of discrimination. There are strict time limits for reporting the activity so it is important that you act fast. Don't forget to save as much evidence as possible. This means printing out email's and text messages before they are erased.

The IDHR isn't tasked with anything more than investigation the complaint. If the investigator finds substantial evidence, you can then file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") where you will have your trial in front of an administrative law judge. The IHRC can be a very tricky place and it takes experience to navigate. The important thing is at the IHRC you need evidence to prove your case. It is important to have an organized plan of attack.

January 13, 2012

Matrix, LLC. Pays $450,000 To Settle Retaliation With The EEOC

Matrix, L.L.C. pays $450,000 to a class of 15 former employees to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the employees. According to published accounts Matrix officials told white supervisor Barbara Palermi not to hire any more black cleaners. When Palermi hired additional black cleaners based on their qualifications to do the job, Matrix dismissed her in retaliation for opposing the company’s racial discrimination. It is amazing that this type of activity still exists in the United States--but it does.

The EEOC alleged that Matrix management officials also discriminated against the black cleaners by insisting they sit in the back of the cafeteria during break times. At one point they even forbid them from using the cafeteria at all. To make matters worse and in an amazing turn of events Matrix fired all of the employees at the worksite and replaced them with an entirely non-black cleaning crew.

“We commend the company for its agreement to carry out the significant equitable relief provided in the consent decree, including providing expansive annual training, which will benefit all company employees,” said EEOC Attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
January 11, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Cases Involving Senior Management

In Chicago there seems to be a rise in the number of sexual harassment cases between employees and members of senior management. Senior management can include owners, CEO's and COO's. Many times employees are reluctant to come forward because they feel the other person is too powerful and is beyond being controlled. They feel if it comes down to it, they will be fired--and if they are it would be retaliation under the Illinois Human Rights Act. This would only makes matters worse for the company and subject the company to additional liability. The important thing is to come forward and not let these senior managers get away with what they are doing.

In Chicago the job market is tight and people are afraid of rocking the boat for fear of losing their job. However, if someone is going to engage in sexual harassment do you really think they are beyond firing you if you reject them? Of course they will do whatever they deem necessary to protect their own interests. Filing a complaint of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") is a good first step in stopping the harassment and protecting your rights. If they fire you for filing the complaint with the IDHR you then have an additional charge of discrimination based on retaliation. So firing actually gives you some protection. It is very important to protect your rights and take action if you are the victim of sexual harassment at work.

December 30, 2011

Common Sexual Harassment Defenses

In Illinois there is strict liability on the company if a supervisor or person in authority engages in sexual harassment. However if the sexual harassment if from a non-supervisor then liability doesn't attach unless the company is notified and fails to take corrective action. So what type of defenses will a company engage in once you bring a complaint of sexual harassment? The most common is that the conduct doesn't rise to the level of harassment because both parties were engaged in it. This is also known as consent by the victim. The company will usually show an email or text message that shows some friendly comment in an attempt to prove their theory. Remember if the person is your supervisor of course you may have friendly comments to him, are you suppose to say unfriendly things to him?

The second most common defense is that the conduct really doesn't rise to the level of sexual harassment. So the company will say, yes the conduct was inappropriate but it wasn't harsh enough to warrant a sexual harassment complaint. The third defense is that the employee is not a good worker and is just using the sexual harassment charge as a way of diverting attention away from herself. This is the defense where the victim usually gets terminated based on some trumped up charge. This also allows the employee to file an additional complaint of retaliation. You were late to work three times or you made a mistake on your work. Of course other employees missed the same amount of work and they didn't get fired. If this happens to you, call an employment lawyer and protect your rights.

December 23, 2011

Sexual Harassment Involving Your Supervisor

What happens when you are the victim of sexual harassment at the hands of your supervisor? As you can imagine it puts you in a very tough position because of the power the supervisor has over you. If you complain and management doesn't do anything what are you going to do? My advice to you is call an employment lawyer and discuss your issue. In Illinois there is strict liability if a person in a position of control engages in sexual harassment with an employee. It is very important to protect your rights and file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") within a very short time period.

My Chicago office is very active with the IDHR and i don't charge a fee unless money is recovered. There are ways to draft a sexual harassment complaint that puts pressure on the company to take the complaint seriously. Remember that human resources is not there to protect your rights, it is there to protect the company. Don't let human resources buffalo you into thinking they are handling it in a private fashion. Call an experienced employment lawyer and protect yourself. Many times, the company engages in retaliation when an employee comes forward and complains about sexual harassment. Don't get pushed around by human resources when your supervisor engages in sexual harassment.

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 16, 2011

Complaining About Sexual Harassment Usually Lead To Retaliation

it is unfortunate but true that when most people complain to human resources about sexual harassment the company ends up engaging in retaliation. Instead of investigating the complaint and taking action the company takes the blame the victim policy. This usually results in a call to my office and the filing of a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). This in turn results in the company spending money on legal fees and usually paying money to settle the case.

I am amazed how often this takes place and why companies just don't address sexual harassment complaints head on. I believe a good deal of this has to do with lack of training and an unrealistic belief that they can sweep the whole thing under the rug. People who have been victimized by sexual harassment deserve help and to be taken seriously. If companies don't wish to take the complaints in a serious fashion they will pay the price down the road.

December 12, 2011

Filing A Sexual Orientation Discrimination Complaint

You are doing a great job at work and things seem to be going good. However you have a co-worker or supervisor that is discriminating against you based on your sexual orientation. You complain about it to human resources but nothing is done to stop it. So what should you do next? The only remaining option is to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Filing a complaint with the IDHR gives you protection and starts an investigation. Remember that the company can sweep an internal investigation under the rug, but they can't control the investigation with the IDHR.

The IDHR can interview witnesses, access documents and put pressure on the company to try and settle the case. These are all good things for a person who is being discriminated against. You can also keep your job while your investigation is being conducted by the IDHR and the company can't engage in retaliation against you because you filed the complaint. Don't go it alone, contact an experienced employment lawyer and get help protecting your rights.

December 10, 2011

Sexual Harassment Investigations

What happens when you complain to the human resource ("HR") manager that your supervisor is engaging in sexual harassment with you? What can you expect from the human resource manager in the way of an investigation? The answer will depend on the company and how serious they take sexual harassment. In most cases the HR manager will talk with you and the person you are accusing--not at the same time. Next the HR manager will talk with people who may have witnessed the sexual harassment. The HR manager may also review email and text messages to try and determine what happened. At the conclusion of this the HR manager will talk with senior management to determine what steps to take next as far as discipline including termination.

The problem with what is written above is many times HR just tries to sweep matters under the rug. They don't wish to get to the truth. If is a senior manager doing the sexual harassment, they would rather do nothing or worse, fire the person being harassed. This is what I call blame the victim. It usually can be called retaliation and can be the basis for a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. It is very important to seek legal help once you are the victim of sexual harassment because HR is paid by the company and their loyalty is with the company. Don't be fooled into thinking HR is looking out for your best interest.

December 8, 2011

Sexual Harassment In Chicago

Sexual harassment in Chicago is a growing problem. Because employees are making less money and are afraid to lose their job they put up with more than they usually would. And it seems managers think they can do more to employees. I get many calls about managers who are trying to have sex with their employees and making them feel like they will be fired if they don't go along with it. This is commonly known as retaliation. In Illinois this is illegal and a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA").

In Chicago I file complaints of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The complaints basically allege violations of the IHRA and the damages that I can ask for include, lost back wages, lost future wages, attorney fees, medical bills and money for emotional distress. It is very important for people to realize they must file a complaint within a short period of time or they will be prohibited because of the statute of limitations. It is imperative to speak with an employment attorney at your earliest.

December 6, 2011

Retaliation Against Sexual Harassment Victim

Usually when a person complains about sexual harassment in the workplace the victim ends up getting the raw end of the stick. For some unknown reason, management ends up blaming the victim and engages in retaliation. The retaliation can come in many forms. Everything from demotion, termination or just ignoring the conduct so that the person must endure even more sexual harassment. It is very important to document everything that is taking place at work to increase your chances of success.

My Chicago office handles many sexual harassment cases and I usually file at the Illinois Department of Human rights ("IDHR"). There is a strict time limit when filing a complaint at the IDHR so you must act fast and seek legal advice immediately. There are other reasons to act fast including drafting your complaint to human resources in just he right way. Remember that management is looking out for the best interest of the company and you need someone to look out for your best interest. Don't count of management; protect yourself.

December 2, 2011

Lakemont Homes Inc. Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $267,000

Lakemont Homes, Inc. pays $267,000 to settle a class sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of multiple female employees. According to published accounts four female employees of the company endured vulgar sexual comments and unwanted propositions by a male lead sales agent. The women did not want to engage in sex and repeatedly told the male they were not interested.

In a shocking allegation the lead agent asked one of the women to have sex with him, even threatening her life at gunpoint. This is just crazy. I can't believe people actually act like this in the workplace. The women complained to management but nothing was done to stop it. Instead the women were retaliated against for reporting the conduct in the form of unfavorable scheduling and poor performance evaluations. And what happens all too often the women were forced to quit while the harasser remained employed. When an employee is forced to quit because of discrimination it is referred to as a constructive discharge.

“While we commend Lakemont for taking measures to resolve this matter, we hope more employers recognize that they must deal with workplace harassment quickly and effectively,” said EEOC attorney Anna Park.
November 30, 2011

Discovery At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

I get calls from people who have cases at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") regarding how to proceed with discovery. My first piece of advice is to tell them to hire an experienced employment lawyer. Discovery is where a case can be won or lost. It is also instrumental in getting information that will lead to a good settlement. For example if you have a sexual orientation or sexual harassment case pending before the IHRC, you would want to get evidence the other side has of the discrimination. A good starting point would be text messages and emails that were uncovered by the company investigation.

Usually if you file an internal complaint of discrimination the company will do some sort of internal investigation. Documents uncovered during the investigation may be very relevant to your case. The documents get even more important if the company engages in retaliation against you after you complain about the sexual harassment or sexual orientation discrimination. There are no short cuts when it comes to discovery and how clever and complete your discovery requests are may decide how much money you end up with in your pocket.

November 27, 2011

EEOC Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit With Imperial Security Inc. For $50,000

Imperial Security, Inc. agreed to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit for $50,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Julie Holloway-Russell. According to published accounts Imperial refused to accommodate the religious beliefs of Russell, who is Muslim. In fact to make matters worse they actually terminated her. This type of activity is also known as retaliation because she complained about being discriminated against.

Russell wore a khimar, which is a religious garb which covers her hair, ears, and neck, as required by her religious beliefs. She wore this when she interviewed for the job of security guard so the company was well aware that she wore this daily. The problem started when she reported to her first work assignment wearing her khima and was told to remove it. She refused to do so because her religious beliefs mandated that she wear the religious head covering. She was terminated at that point.

“The 21st century workplace is increasingly diverse and the resolution of this lawsuit should remind all companies of their legal obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation of an employee’s religious beliefs.”said EEOC District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
November 24, 2011

MMS Resources Inc Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $365,000

MMS Resources, Inc. pays $365,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of female workers. According to published accounts the president of the company Pat Reed did the sexual harassment. The sexual harassment included sexual comments and touching. In a shocking allegation Reed also had coerced sexual intercourse with employees.

If the employees didn't go along with the sex Reed threatened retaliation. The women were threatened with losing their jobs, raises, promotions or other employment opportunities in the community, if they complained at all. This type of behavior is unreal and I can't believe he actually did this. I am glad the EEOC held the company to a higher standard and made them pay this much money. In the future I hope this guy isn't anywhere near women.

“Employees should be free from harassment based upon their gender, and those who complain about such misconduct should not be in fear of losing their jobs,” said EEOC attorney Webster N. Smith.
November 23, 2011

Proceeding Before The Illinois Human Rights Commission

My Chicago office handles many types of discrimination cases. One question that I get asked often is what happens after I file a discrimination case with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR")? Does the IDHR try the case and give a verdict? The answer is no. The IDHR investigates the complaint and if there is substantial evidence allows you to file directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial. So in fact the IDHR acts as a gate keeper for the IHRC. This keeps the number of cases down so the IHRC doesn't get overwhelmed with cases.

Of course the down side is many times the investigators at the IDHR try to try the case and issue their own verdict so to speak. It is very important to hire someone experienced when taking a case to the IHRC because cases can be won and lost during discovery. Many sexual harassment cases that I file at the IHRC are settled because the other side doesn't want damaging or embarrassing details coming out about what really happened at the company. Additionally, many sexual harassment cases also include a claim for retaliation and companies don't want those details emerging either. It is in your best interest to proceed before the Illinois Human Rights Commission with caution and in my opinion with the help of an experienced employment lawyer.

November 19, 2011

Koper Furniture Inc. Pays $40,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Koper Furniture, Inc. pays $40,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation was based on an employee complaining to management about discrimination based on color and then being fired. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of employee Jose Guadalupe. Usually in cases like this the EEOC tries to settle the case before filing a lawsuit but sometimes it takes the lawsuit to get the parties to settle.

For some unknown reasons many companies fire employees who complain about various types of discrimination. The smartest thing to do would be to investigate the claim and take action against the employee who is engaging in this type of conduct. I am baffled why the company always wants to shoot the messenger. But in the end, justice prevails and the company had to pay up.

“We are delighted that this resolution addresses the systemic problems at this workplace that facilitated the discriminatory misconduct,” said EEOC attorney Malcolm S. Medley.
November 14, 2011

Mobile Community Action Pays $65,000 To Settle Retaliation and Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Mobile Community Action, Inc. settles a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company fired Donte Bumpers after he opposed sexual harassment. The accounts claims that Bumpers was exposed to numerous instances of unwelcome and offensive sexual remarks by a femal supervisor. This is less common than male supervisors sexually harsassing female workers but it happens. the supervisor also would physically touch Bumpers and he resisted at all times.

Because he would not go along with this activity the supervisor required him to perform demeaning personal tasks unassociated with his job responsibilities in retaliation. Bumpers complained about this type of behavior and was immediately terminated. This is the basis of his retalitation claim. I see more of this activity now that the economy is down and people are afraid of losing their jobs. This case was settled for $65,000 plus attorney fees which could bring the total to six figures.

“This settlement further illustrates the fact that sexual harassment in the workplace is not gender-specific,” said EEOC AttorneyDelner Franklin-Thomas.
November 3, 2011

American Laser Centers Pays $125,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

American Laser Centers ("ALC") pays $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after initial settlement talks broke down. The sexual harassment started when female workers were harassed by the landlord the the building. The sexual harassment included unwelcome touching, sexual advances and appearances in their work area by the visibly aroused landlord. The landlord also made very disturbing comments to the workers.

The sexual harassment got so bad one female brought her brother to work for protection.
When the women came forward to management nothing was done to stop the harassment and negative job actions ended up taking place against the females. This is the basis for the retaliation claim. Hopefully the company learned its lesson and will train the management employees better in the future.

“Workers absolutely have the legal right to report harassment or discrimination suffered at work without repercussion." Said EEOC attorney Melissa Barrios
October 31, 2011

Jay Medicar Transportation LLC Pays $70,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Jay Medicar Transportation, LLC pays $70,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in federal court by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of female employees who alleged they were sexually harassed by a senior manager. According to published accounts the Chicago based company had a former management employee who thought he could make women have sex with him in exchange for work related favors. This type of activity is called quid pro quo. It just means that the person is trying to get something for something. The senior manager was telling the women they could get pay raises, or scheduling changes if they had sex with him. He even went so far as to tell them they could be fired if they didn't have sex with him.

One of the discrimination victims alleged the company terminated her on pretextual grounds, rehired her, and then subjected her to adverse terms and conditions of employment as retaliation for her prior complaints of sexual harassment. This type of activity is known as retaliation and is a separate discrimination charge. This manager is no longer working for the company and hopefullly this type of activity won't take place in the future.

“This case alleged that Jay Medicar allowed a high-ranking manager to abuse his position of power by demanding sex in exchange for promotions, schedule changes, and job security,” said EEOC attorney John Hendrickson
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 15, 2011

Sexual Harassment Based on Comments Alone

What happens if you are the victim of sexual harassment at work, but the sexual harassment consists of comments only? Do you have a legitimate sexual harassment case? The short answer is yes you do. One issue you may have is proving the comments were said to you. Of course you can testify that you heard the comments and you can expect the person saying them to deny it. There may also be circumstances where a third party overheard the comments--which would be very helpful. You may also send an email to the person making the comments asking him if you heard him correctly? If he responds, you have printed evidence, if he doesn't respond, it also looks odd that he would not deny saying the comments--so again you would have some printed evidence.

If other employees overhear the sexual harassing comments and are truthful with management or human resources about what was said and they are threatened with a negative job action, they will have a claim of retaliation. Many times, the people who are honest and truthful get fired or demoted and don't realize they have rights and protections under the law in Illinois. Don't be afraid to speak the truth and hold harassing people and the companies they work for accountable.

October 8, 2011

7th Circuit Court of Appeals Allows Retaliation Lawsuit To Be Heard

The U.S Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Belinda Egan vs. Freedom Bank et al., is allowing the retaliation lawsuit to go forward. In a mixed ruling for Egan she lost on two other counts but at least won on the retaliation clam. According to published accounts Ms. Egan was recruited to become Vice-President of retail banking at Freedom Bank in July 2007. In September of that year, after a bank director made an unwelcome sexual advance, she complained to the bank's vp of human resources about the sexual harassment. In what shows that she was telling the truth the company investigated and the director resigned.

Meanwhile, Egan was terminated under the guise of an elimination of her person. The negative job action came after a short period of time of complaining of sexual harassment thereby raising the inference of retaliation. Egan filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She also added two additional counts to the lawsuit, one for a hostile work environment and one for gender discrimination. The lower federal court granted the bank summary judgment dismissing the charges and the case went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The Court said "that the company hired four other persons in the first few months of Barajas's tenure. And Egan had no performance issues.”
October 6, 2011

Roberts Truck Centers Pays $300,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Roberts Truck Centers settles a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit for $300,000 after the case was filed by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of female workers. According to published accounts Larry Leyva, subjected Katherine Abernathy and three other women to sexual harassment. When sexual harassment is against so many different women there has to be a real lack of management in this orgainization. How can all of this take place and nobody is noticing what is going on? I guess the organization just kept on trucking.

To make matters worse, Abernathy suffered retaliation for complaining about the sexual harassment and was fired after asking that the sexual harassment stop. When an employee complains about discrimination and is then fired, it is called retaliation. This company seems like it doesn't have a clue when it comes to the rights of workers. The EEOC was vigilant and made sure the company had to compensate the workers that were subjected to the sexual harassment.

“Employers must constantly remind their managers of their obligation to maintain workplaces where employees are not subjected to illegal harassment or retaliation.” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.
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.

October 2, 2011

Text Messages As Evidence In Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

The explosion in the use of text messages has been good for plaintiff's in sexual harassment lawsuits for a number of reasons. First, the text message will show the numbers sent from and sent to. For the most part this leaves it clear that the message was sent by a certain person's phone. And it is an uphill battle to claim your phone sent the message but you did not. Second, the words written will speak for themselves. For example, it will be hard for a supervisor to explain why he was texting you dirty messages at eleven o'clock at night. I find text messages make it easy to settle sexual harassment lawsuits because the other side can see the evidence and they realize they are in a bad position.

It is very important that you save the text messages on your phone or print them out. Don't think that you can delete them and then have the cellular telephone company retrieve them. They can't and won't. All they can do is show a text was sent at a certain time and to what number the text message was sent or received. If you do happen to delete the text message you can still retrieve them with the proper software. My Chicago office handles these types of cases often. It is very important to seek an experienced employment lawyer early in the process to help you with your sexual harassment case. Many times an employee is the victim of retaliation when she reports sexual harassment to management. Remember, the company has people looking out for their best interest--do you?

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 27, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Involving The Doctors Company Settles For $230,000

The Doctors Company ("TDC"), settles sexual harassment lawsuit for $230,000. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a young administrative assistant named Kimber Thompson. Thompson was sexually harassed by her direct supervisor on a daily basis. According to published accounts the sexual harassment included inappropriate comments about her appearance, inappropriate text messages and e-mails.

In a real ironic twist the company provided anti-sexual harassment training and once realizing that she had rights, Thompson then reported this conduct to management. She even brought along a co-worker as a witness to the sexual harassment which included physical touching. As is typical these days with many companies the company began to hyper-scrutinize the work of the two women and subsequently fired both of them. In Illinois this is considered retaliation and is actionable.

EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo said, “We hope that this case serves as a reminder to employers to address complaints of harassment and take measures to prevent retaliation."
September 21, 2011

Lowe's Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit For $120,000

Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc. pays $120,000 to settle a religious discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after Lowes refused to reasonably accommodate the sincerely held religious belief of an employee. Under the law a company must allow for a reasonable accommodation for religious beliefs that are true and honest.

In this case the worker requested being excused from working on the Christian Sabbath. This doesn't sound like a big deal and the company should have just allowed the man the day off. Instead the company retaliated against him when it scheduled him to work on the Sabbath for 27 out of 28 weeks. Try explaining that one to St. Peter at the gate.

"This settlement ensures that this employee will continue to receive the accommodation he should have been granted to begin with, and that managers and human resource personnel understand heir obligations under the law,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams.
September 16, 2011

ABM Industries Pays $180,000 To Settle National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit

ABM Industries settles a national origin discrimination lawsuit for $180,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after a thorough investigation by the agency. According to details which were published, supervisors at the company discriminated against Latino janitors by giving them less preferable assignments despite their seniority. In addtion to that, the supervisors removed them from long favored positions. The workers complained about the discriminatory conduct and ABM engaged in retaliation against the men after they filed with the EEOC.

The company should have kept better controls on its supervisors and should have taken the complaints seriously. Once the EEOC got involved the company had to change its' tune and could no longer sweep this under the rug. It has been my experience that companies like to put off doing anything unless forced to.

“We commend the workers who came to us and filed charges, who recognized a problem in their workplace and were willing to come to the EEOC to seek to remedy it. Their coming forward will result in positive changes in the workplace.” said EEOC attorney Michael Baldonado
September 15, 2011

Allsup's Pays $37,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Allsup’s Convenience Stores, Inc. pays a former employee $37,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Orvel Pape, a manager-in-training who had worked for the company for almost ten years, was fired because he cooperated with an EEOC investigation of another employee’s charge of disability discrimination. There have been recent cases that protect a employee during an investigation. Another words, if the EEOC conducts an investigation, an employee cannot be fired for cooperating with investigators.

These types of cases illustrate that employers have to treat investigations seriously. They can't just threaten or fire employee who do not play ball with the company. They can't force employees to lie and not be truthful to investigators. I see this type of thing all the time where a company tries to strong arm employees. I am glad the EEOC held the companies feet to the fire on this one.

“Mr. Pape, a dedicated ten-year employee, was asked by Allsup’s to speak with an EEOC Investigator about his co-worker’s allegations of discrimination, and was dealt the ultimate punishment for simply following those instructions,” said EEOC Attorney Meaghan Shepard.
September 3, 2011

AA Enterprises, Inc. Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $80,000

AA Enterprises, Inc. pays $80,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of four female employees. According to published accounts regarding the lawsuit, AA required the four females, who were pregnant to pay for their own medical expenses-while other non-pregnant employees did not have to.

In an even more troubling revelation, the pregnant women were threatened with a negative job action in the form of termination if they did not agree to pay for their own medical expenses. Two of the pregnant women ended up being fired after filing a complaint with the EEOC. This type of behavior is illegal and will get a company in trouble every time. In short, a female cannot be treated different just because she is pregnant.

“Pregnancy discrimination is a continuing problem in the CNMI,” said EEOC attorney Anna Y. Park.
September 1, 2011

Applebee's Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $1 Million

Food Management Investors, Inc. (FMI) and Apple Core Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar will pay $1 Million to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after former store manager Mike Cordova engaged in behavior that was discriminatory. According to published accounts Cordova would grope females on a daily basis in a sexual fashion. Even more troubling is that Cordova would seek sexual relations from the females he was supervising which would put them in a very tough position. This type of sexual harassment is called a quid quo pro, meaning this for that.

Cordova even exposed himself to a female. It is hard to imagine this guy did any real work for the company. This type of behavior is really out of hand and you can see by the settlement amount that the company realized it as well. I mean paying this large amount should tell everyone what was really going on in this place. The employees would constantly complain to management about what was taking place and the company did not care. It wasn't until five women who worked here filed a sexual harassment complaint that something was finally done to stop it.

“This manager’s sexual harassment of his subordinates was blatant and ugly, and it permeated every aspect of life on the job for these women." said John Hendrickson, Chicago EEOC attorney.

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August 31, 2011

Pine View Living Inc. Sued For Retaliation

Pine View Living, Inc. is being accused of violating federal law by firing an employee for filing a job discrimination complaint. This is commonly referred to as retaliation. The against Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed the complaint on behalf of Rae Anderson. According to published accounts Anderson was fired from her job because she complained to management and ended up filing a discrimination claim based on racial discrimination.

It is always amazing that a company can be so stupid as to fire an employee after they file a formal complaint of discrimination. It is against the law to punish an employee for asserting her rights. My Chicago office is seeing more and more of this type of activity and we are fighting hard to make sure it doesn't continue to happen. I will be following this case to see if the parties are able to settle prior to trial. Over 90% of all lawsuits end up settling prior to trial.

EEOC Chicago Attorney John C. Hendrickson said, “Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision means what it says: Don’t retaliate.”
August 27, 2011

Huntersville Searford Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $86,000

Huntersville Seafood, Inc. pays $86,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after Peter Economos and other male employees came forward with complaints about being sexually harassed by a male co-worker. It is unusual to have a sexual harassment case involving male-on-male sexual harassment.

The lawsuit details are troubling. According to published accounts the victims were touched on the buttocks, nipples, and testicles and were subjected to almost daily sexual gestures and comments. The employees complainted to management about what was going on and even the owner was made aware--but nothing happened. In fact after Economos complained about the sexual harassment, he was terminated. It is called retaliation when you are fired for complaining about discrimination.

EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes said ,“This settlement is a great result for Mr. Economos and the other victims of the harassment.” “This case serves as a reminder to employers that sexual harassment can occur between employees of the same sex and must be addressed if it occurs.”
August 18, 2011

Allstar Fitness Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

Allstar Fitness pays $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after the employee came forward with a complaint. According to documents that are available to the public a custodial worker says she was raped repeatedly by her immediate supervisor, while working at two Allstar Fitness locations. Of course rape is a criminal offense and it is unclear as to whether criminal charges were filed.

The woman claims she was fired by her immediate supervisor when she reported it to management. When you report sexual harassment and are then fired it is called retaliation. The company really made a mistake when it fired the worker shortly after she complained about sexual harassment. In Illinois there is strict liability if a supervisor and person he controls engage in sex. If you look at how much money was given to settle this case, that should tell you how factual the complaint of sexual harassment was.

"They should have known better, as an employer you absolutely have the duty and obligation to protect your workers.", said EEOC attorney May Che
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 10, 2011

Retaliation Claims On The Rise

In Illinois the number of retaliation lawsuits as a result of discrimination claims is on the rise. The employers in this state seem to be punishing employees who report sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination. The employers may feel that in this tough and tight economy they can do as they please--they can't. Plaintiff's attorneys like myself who handle sexual harassment cases and other forms of discrimination fight hard to protect the rights of employees. Make sure you don't let employers push you around and contact a lawyer to learn your rights.

In Chicago, the numbers seem to be getting even worse. My office is getting so many calls from people who are being treated poorly at work. It is very important to document what is happening to you and to make sure you have as many witnesses or emails as possible. Remember human resources will not help you they are there to help the company.

August 4, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Increasing In Chicago

My Chicago office is seeing a rise in the number of sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuits throughout the state. Of course one reason is probably the down economy and the lack of money companies want to spend on employee training. By in the long run the extra money spent on proper training will pay for itself because of the large settlement amounts that can be awarded by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") through the settlement process or by the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") or by a jury in a federal court proceeding.

Many times employers believe they can let their human resource department sweep the whole thing under the rug and take care of it. This usually does not take care of the matter and if the employee were smart she would contact an employment attorney for advice. My office handles these claims all the time and remember the company is getting legal advice so you should too.

August 2, 2011

Analytic Stress Relieving Inc. Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $75,000

Analytic Stress Relieving Inc. pays $75,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). According to published accountsThe EEOC Analytic Stress terminated a female employee in retaliation for her complaints about sexual harassment. Companies continue to amaze me with how stupid they are when handling a sexual harassment complaint. In this case look at the money this cost them. And they lost a good employee.

Ashley Maygar was fired because she complained that an acting supervisor engaged in offensive and unwanted sexually suggestive behavior in the workplace. An employee is protected by law against being fired if she complains about discriminatory conduct--which includes sexual harassment. In this case, the company fired Maygar because she brought up the sexual harassment. It is important for people to realize their rights and to seek out an employment attorney for advice if they believe they have a problem.

“Unfortunately, we see retaliation as an allegation in a very large segment of the charges filed with EEOC. We intend to protect the rights of employees to complain about illegal behavior,” said EEOC attorney Delner Franklin-Thomas.
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 21, 2011

Mason County Forest Products Pays $900,000 To Settle A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Mason County Forest Products will pay $900,000 to two female workers to settle a federal lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the female workers after settlement efforts failed . According to published reports, the two women were subjected to widespread hostility, and that upper management at the mill chose to ignore the harassment.

In a really troubling admission upper management allegedly said

“Boys will be boys.”

When upper management makes those types of comments it is easy to see why the people under them feel they can do as they please. The supervisor for the women made it clear that he did not want women on his crew, using demeaning comments, physical intimidation and verbal threats. In a very eye opening and unbelievable admission the lawsuit alleged male employees targeted their female co-workers with lewd comments and gestures, displayed sex toys and pornography. I am glad the women stood up and made the company do the right thing. Good things happen when you fight for your rights.

“I stood up for myself and, ultimately, through this process, for other women,” said Debbie Berntsen, one of the two discrimination victims. “Companies like this need to know that they can’t allow women to be treated this way in any workplace.”
July 20, 2011

Cavalier Telephone Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $1 Million

Cavalier Telephone Company Inc. pays $1 million to settle an age discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two individuals who complained the company was not hiring people because they were over 40 years of age. Age discrimination violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"). Persons age 40 or older are protected from employment discrimination by the act.

According to published accounts for over seven years, Cavalier Telephone’s mid-Atlantic region had a practice of not hiring applicants age 40 or older for sales account executive positions. In a very troubling practice Cavalier offered its employees a $500 bonus for referral of a “friend’s younger brother and sister.”

“Cavalier Telephone’s hiring practices penalized older applicants simply because of their age and that is illegal,” said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez. “I am pleased that we were able to work out a resolution of this suit that provides relief for the victims of discrimination and brings the company’s practices into compliance with the law.”

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July 18, 2011

Sexual Harassment Witnesses

My Chicago offices gets many questions about what can happen to a witness in a sexual harassment or other discrimination case. The good news is an employee who comes forward and speaks truthfully about what he or she saw is protected from retaliation from the company. If any negative job action were to occur against an employee who comes forward, that employee would have a claim of retaliation against he company. That claim could be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

It is very important to speak with an attorney early in the process to determine your rights and to make sure you have the proper protections in place. Don't forget the company has attorneys and human resource personnel to protect their interests. You need to have someone fighting for your rights and interests. If you have a witness to your sexual harassment, I suggest you have the witness contact the same attorney you are utilizing so that the proper protections can be put in place.

July 17, 2011

Richardson Industries Inc. Pays $22,500 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Richardson Industries, Inc., doing business as Richco Structures, settled a retaliation lawsuit for $22,500. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of fired employee Morgan Rae Brocker after supervisors allegedly reported to management that another Richco supervisor had engaged in sexual harassment of Brocker at the company’s Christmas party in December 2005.

You can see how long after an incident a settlement can occur in some cases. The long delays are part of the process and one reason why trying to settle a case early is in the best interest of all parties. In this case there was probably more spent on attorney fees than on the settlement amount. I am seeing a rise in retaliation claims in my Chicago office.

“Retaliation complaints have been the fastest-increasing type of complaint filed with the EEOC over the past 10 years,” said John C. Hendrickson, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office
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 3, 2011

Genesco, Inc. Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Genesco, Inc., doing business as Journeys, settled a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit for $20,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of three teenage female workers. According to published accounts Genesco subjected 16 year-old Lauren Torres and two other female workers, aged 16 and 19 at the time, to sexual harassment by an assistant manager. When a manager or other person in a position of power engages in sexual harassment there is strict liability to the company.

It is bad enough that the females were subjected to sexual harassment but Torres was retaliated against after complaining about the harassment when her hours were reduced and she was subjected to retaliatory comments by other Genesco managers. This type of behavior by management is not acceptable and I am glad Torres fought for her rights. My Chicago office is seeing an increase in the number of sexual harassment cases.

"Our nation’s youth deserve every opportunity to work without fear of harassment or retaliation.” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O'Neill
June 28, 2011

Sexual Harassment and Human Resources

My Chicago offices gets deluged with calls about employees who complain about sexual harassment and report it to human resources. The problem is human resources has its loyalty to the company not the employee. The people at human resources usually try to circle the wagons and keep the employee from filing a formal complaint with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The time limits for filing a sexual harassment complaint with the EEOC is 300 days and 180 for the IDHR. By stalling an investigation or claiming to be handling the situation, those time limits can pass quickly.

So where does this leave the employee when the time limits pass? Well in short you are out of luck. It is very important to contact my office or another attorney to get advice as soon as you are the victim of sexual harassment. The other problem is sometimes an employee will become the victim of retaliation once they file their sexual harassment complaint. Human Resources may be friendly with the harassing person or may be afraid of the persons position or other contacts in the company. Again, don't rely on human resources if you have been the victim of sexual harassment--contact an attorney.

June 27, 2011

Duquesne University Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Duquesne University has settled two gender discrimination lawsuits filed by members of its School of Law faculty. Former associate dean Vanessa Browne-Barbour alleged that University officials discriminated against her based on racial discrimination and gender discrimination when they declined to consider her for the interim dean position. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, which is common in these types of cases.

The second lawsuit was filed by Former clinical law teacher Alice Stewart. She filed a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the University. She alleged the current Dean Ken Gormley reduced her pay, demoted her and moved her to an office outside the law school building in retaliation for a sexual harassment claim she filed against him in 2006. Retaliation occurs when a negative job action results after you file a claim of discrimination. You can see how long these cases can last and the best thing to do usually is to try and settle.

"We have resolved their differences and Ms. Stewart is leaving to pursue other interests. The university wishes her well." Statement issued by the University.
June 20, 2011

Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Claims

In most cases a claim of sexual harassment will be followed by a claim of retaliation because most companies seem to shoot the messenger. A person comes forward with a claim of sexual harassment and human resources usually either doesn't take the claim seriously or then looks into how they can dig up dirt and discipline the person being harassed. It is very important to contact human resources by email so that you have a paper trail of what took place and you can prove you complained.

Remember that you only have 180 days from the last date of sexual harassment to file a claim with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or 300 days with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). If you file with the IDHR they will automatically file with the EEOC. Sometimes a company will drag out its' investigation past the 180 and 300 day time limits in order to prevent the employee from asserting their rights. Make sure you don't allow this to happen.

June 17, 2011

Sonic Drive-In of Los Lunas, Ltd. and B&B Consultants Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $2 Million

Sonic Drive-In of Los Lunas, Ltd. and B&B Consultants settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit for $2 Million. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of women, some of whom were teenagers. According to published accounts, former manager Robert Gomez, subjected a class of women, including teenagers, to sexual harassment, including sexual comments and innuendo as well as unwanted touching. This type of behavior should not happen to such a large group of employees without the knowledge of management.

Allegations included that women who asked Gomez to stop harassing them or complained about their work environment were subjected to retaliation by management. Some employees were also forced to quit their jobs because of the sexual harassment, retaliation, and/or the employer’s failure to provide preventive or remedial relief. When this occurs it is called a constructive discharge. You can see how much money this type of behavior and activity cost the company. I can't believe that companies don't spend more time and money training management. I hope other companies can learn a lesson from this.

“Managers must constantly be reminded of their obligation to maintain workplaces where employees are not subjected to illegal harassment or retaliation,” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O'Neill.
June 16, 2011

Ricoh Americas Corp. Pays $125,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Ricoh Americas Corporation ("Ricoh") will pay $125,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of three employees. The three employees were James Nyema-Davies, Anibal Melendez and Gustavo Tovar. According to published accounts Ricoh subjected the three to discrimination based on their race and national origin which was black and Columbian and Puerto Rican. The lawsuit further alleged that Ricoh suspended and then fired all three employees for complaining about the harassment-which is retaliation.

The men were subjected to offensive national origin- and race-based harassment, including derogatory comments by the site manager in their location. On a daily or near-daily basis, the site manager made comments to the three employees such as stating that she “hated Puerto Ricans,” that “Hispanics are so stupid,” “Colombians are good for nothing except drugs,” and that “damn, f-----g Africans . . .ain’t worth s--t.”

“Race and national origin harassment include racial or ethnic slurs or other expressions of dislike for different racial and ethnic backgrounds,” said EEOC Attorney Lynette A. Barnes

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June 13, 2011

Herzog Roofing Pays $71,500 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

A roofing company, Herzog roofing will pay $71,500 to seven black, Hispanic and American Indian employees to settle racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the workers. According to published accounts, employees were frequently subjected to racial epithets, racial jokes and hostile treatment by other employees at Herzog Roofing.

The discrimination was largely the acts of supervisors. The employees complained but the complaints fell on deaf ears. When this type of activity takes place and is not stopped by management liability attaches. In this case the company ended up paying a pretty good amount of money. In the future I am sure the company will handle things in a different manner.

“Herzog now understands that it is not enough for an employer to have an anti-discrimination policy. The employer must enforce the policy and take preventive and corrective action to effectively fulfill its statutory obligation to maintain a workplace free of discrimination, including harassment.” said EEOC attorney Julie Schmid
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 1, 2011

Longs Drugs a/k/a/ CVS Caremark Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $55,000

Longs Drugs a/k/a CVS Caremark pays $55,000 to settle a gender discrimination, retaliation and racial discrimination lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Marcia Guaman an African-American female buyer. According to details which have become public, Guaman was treated different from colleagues who were not black or female. As an example given in the lawsuit Guaman received verbal and written warnings for her performance numbers, while white female co-workers with lower scores did not face any disciplinary action.

Additional odd behavior by the company included Guaman’s requests for vacation days being denied, even though she asked prior to white co-workers who were granted vacation for the same dates. Guaman was discharged from her position a few months after she raised the differential treatment to human resources which is the basis of the retaliation charge. Many times it isn't a company policy to discriminate but rather the actions of a manager. This underscores how important it is to properly train employees and members of management.


“Employers should guard against bias creeping in to distort company policies, and training staff is an important preventive measure,” said EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo.

May 29, 2011

Retaliation Lawsuits On The Rise

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") released its' figures for 2010 and the number of retaliation claims is on the rise. It should be no suprise that employers have been treating employees in such a horrible fashion. The economy is down and it is a cut-throat atmosphere out there. According to the EEOC retaliaion claims accounted for 36% of all discrimination charges filed--99,922 total charges were filed. What this shows is that employees are complaining about discriminatory behavior in the workplace and they are being singled out and treated unfairly for complaining.

My Chicago office is not only seeing an increase in retaliation claims but also an increase in sexual harassment claims. Many times they go hand-in-hand. The employee will complain about sexual harassment and then a negative job action will take place against the employee who complained. The United States Supreme Court expanded retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include third parties. In Thompson v. North American Stainless LLP, the court held that the boyfriend of a female can claim retaliation if he is targeted because his girlfriend files a claim of sexual harassment.

May 27, 2011

Monterey Gourmet Foods Pays $535,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Monterey Gourmet Foods, Inc., pays $535,000 to four Latino workers to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the employees. According to details which became public, three women and one man employed as packers in the lasagna, tamale and ravioli production units suffered sexual harassment by the same male supervisor. The sexual harassment included sexual comments, texting obscene pictures, and unwanted physical touching.

Here is the part that really got the company in trouble. The employees reported the sexual harassment to management and the human resources department but nothing happened. And to make matters worse just weeks after two workers filed discrimination charges with the EEOC, all four workers were discharged or laid off in retaliation. I bet after paying out this kind of money the company will not act like this in the future. I see this all the time in my Chicago office where human resources shoots the messenger.

“You should not have to choose between your personal dignity and making a living,” said the male worker, who is in his 80s. “It is good to know that the law protects workers from that kind of treatment, no matter whether you are male or female, young or old."
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 25, 2011

Diane Trujillo Receives $28,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Diane Trujillo agreed to accept $28,000 to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit against former school principal David Castillo. Trujillo also alleged Tucumcari Public Schools engaged in retaliation for filing the sexual harassment complaint. Published accounts claim Trujillo was sexually harassed by the principal and turned him in. However, human resources told her to just go along with it and not rock the boat. This seems to be a typical response from human resources these days.

Under terms of the settlement Trujillo will remain in her position as a reading specialist and student assistance team chairwoman for the remainder of the school year and remain with the school in the future. I am happy to see Trujillo hang tough and not allow the school district or the principal bully her and force her to shut up. The settlement should send a signal to others that they can come forward if they are the victim of sexual harassment.

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 23, 2011

Former Police Officer May Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $700,000

In good news for former police officer Patrick Shaltry, his three-year-old wrongful termination lawsuit may get settled this week for $700,000. A court earlier awarded Shaltry $750,000 for his retaliation claim after rejecting his sexual harassment claim. The city is not going to appeal this award in exchange for Shaltry lowering his award by $50,000 and settling the case for $700,000. The main issue was Shaltry claims he was sexually harassed by his female supervisor and then fired for not going along with it which would be retaliation. There was real merit to this claim because this kind of money is not given for frivolous cases.

Shaltry was fired for alleging Sgt. Anjanette “A.J.” Tuer who was the head of internal affairs for the Saginaw Police Department sexually harassed him. Shaltry turned in this conduct and was fired, however the city claims Shaltry was fired because of five complaints made against him by four citizens and one fellow officer. The settlement amount should give you a good indication of whose version of events is more accurate.


May 18, 2011

The Steakhouse at Desert Canyon Sued For Retaliation

The Steakhouse at Desert Canyon and Desert Canyon Golf Club is being sued by ex-manager White for retaliation after complaining about the head chef. The complaint was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts several female employees felt they had been sexually harassed by the head chef. White who was the manager was then fired by upper management after he brought the sexual harassment complaint to their attention.

Golf International offered to rehire him but conditioned this offer upon his withdrawal of the EEOC charge. But White would not budge to their demands and instead went forward with his EEOC complaint. White insisted on pursuing the EEOC charge, and Golf International refused to rehire him. In a really wacky move Golf International later rehired White, but terminated him again several weeks later.

“It is particularly important for the EEOC to vigorously enforce the anti-retaliation provisions in our employment discrimination laws,” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O’Neill
May 17, 2011

Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. Pays $150,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Fisher Sand and Gravel Company pays $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. subjected two women workers to egregious verbal sexual harassment by a supervisor and then fired one of them after she repeatedly asked the supervisor to stop harassing her and complained to a job superintendent. When an employee is terminated because of complaining of sexual harassment it is referred to as retaliation.

"Women who work in traditionally male-dominated professions or workplaces can be particularly susceptible to sexual harassment,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill
May 15, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits On The Rise

Well the results are in. The number of sexual harassment lawsuits filed by my office in 2011 has increased over 2010. Other attorneys I talk with are seeing an increase as well. Of course if you file a complaint of sexual harassment in Illinois, you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and that agency will cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I find that the IDHR does a good job of investigating the claim of sexual harassment and also of helping with settlement talks.

Along with claims of sexual harassment I also see a number of retaliation claims. What happens is an employee complains to management about sexual harassment and is then fired or had another type of negative job action take against him. Usually this type of action is very transparent. The employee is a good worker, complains and is then fired. It looks so obvious. My Chicago office is seeing a real increase in the number of retaliation claims.

May 13, 2011

Hyundai Ideal Electric Company Pays $188,000 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Hyundai Ideal Electric Company ("HIEC") coughs up $188,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female drafter, Tabitha Wagner. According to accounts which have been made public, Wagner was an experienced drafter and was hired for a job preparing drawings and sketches for batteries and engines. The problem was she was being paid a lower salary than that of a similarly situated male who was hired only months later. Wagner did what most would consider the right thing. She brought the disparity to the attention of the human resources manager, and was subsequently fired as retaliation for complaining.

This type of activity is so tranparent and isn't fooling anyone. It amazes me that companies still behavior like this. Why didn't they just bring her pay in line with her male counterpart? I am glad she stuck up for herself and filed a complaint with the EEOC. In Illinois you can also file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and that organization will cross file with the EEOC.

“The EEOC will not tolerate discriminatory pay practices,” said Debra Lawrence, EEOC attorney.
May 11, 2011

Fisher Nut Company Pays $150,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Fisher Nut Company pays $150,000 to seven Latina employees to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the workers after the EEOC tried to settle the case. Workers were given crazy warnings about things that normal employees are not subjected to. For exampline in one instance a worker was warned for laughing during the course of the work day. All but one of the workers were moved from various other jobs to the entry-level almond-sorting position, widely considered the least desirable work at the plant.

According to published accounts the Latina employees faced verbal threats and irrational warnings from their immediate supervisors when all of them complainted of discrimination. Ultimately, all the women were fired within two months of the informal meeting. This type of conduct is not acceptable and I am glad the EEOC made the company pay.

“Because these workers were vulnerable to retaliation that might be disguised by the seasonal nature of their jobs, it was a priority to pursue this case,” said EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo.
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 6, 2011

Chubb & Son Pays $110,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Chubb & Son is paying $110,000 to settle a retaliation and racial discrimination lawsuit that was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Kong Chee Vang. According to published accounts by the EEOC, Vang was a Hmong tribsman and employee of Chubb and was refused a promotion because of her Asian race--which is racial discrimination.

Additionally Chubb failed to stop its managers from using stereotypes and negative assumptions based on race while considering Vang for a promotion to underwriter. The company then engaged in retaliation after she filed a complaint with the EEOC by not promoting her on a second attempt. This type of behavior will not be tolerated and will result in cash settlements every time. I am glad Vang did not take this sitting down and instead went to the EEOC and filed a lawsuit.

"Managers who may think they are ‘just standing up’ for their companies when they retaliate against complainants are, in fact, just doing more damage.” said EEOC John Hendrickson
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 3, 2011

Delta Family Health and Fitness Pays $87,500 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Delta Family Health and Fitness for Children pays $87,500 to settle a lawsuit for retaliation. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after Delta fired four employees. The four employees were an employee who complained about sexual harassment, an identified witness to the discrimination, and two other employees who had filed charges with the EEOC. It is hard to believe all four employees suddenly became bad employees and warrented being terminated.

Usually companies are a little more subtle but in this case an employee complained about sexual harassment and named a co-worker as a witness to the harassment. Both employees were terminated on three days later. That is a pretty short period of time to fire two employee given what they are complaining about and witnessing. Two other employees filed charges of discrimination with the EEOC and they were fired. I am glad the EEOC was able to get to the bottom of things and hold the company responsible.

“This case demonstrates the EEOC’s commitment to aggressively pursue remedies for retaliation victims.” said EEOC Attorney Faye A. Williams
April 27, 2011

StoneRidge Health and Rehab Center, LLC Pays $22,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

StoneRidge Health and Rehab Center, LLC, pays $22,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female supervisor. According to published accounts the supervisor filed a complaint of racial discrimination with the company and was fired days later. When a good employee is fired within a short period of time after complaining about discrimination there is always a retaliation charge to follow.

In this case such a short period of time lapsed that it gives the impression that she was only fired because she complained to the company about a racial issue. It is very important to document was is going on at work and to file a complaint internally if you believe you are the victim of discrimination. I am glad the EEOC got involved and this woman would not let the company push her around.

“The number of retaliation lawsuits has risen across the country and within the Memphis District,” said EEOC Attorney Faye A. Williams “People have a right to complain about discrimination in the workplace, and the EEOC is committed to aggressively combating retaliation for it.”
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 22, 2011

Four Latino Workers Receive $150,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Willamette Tree Wholesalers must pay $150,000 to four Latino farm workers to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the four workers. There were further allegations of retaliation because one of the workers was fired along with her husband. In a very rare case, the Judge said that the four were subjected to sexual harassment so extreme that the judge agreed to extend a 300-day statute of limitations to allow the complaint to go forward. Normally, you have 300 days from the date of sexual harassment to file a complaint with the EEOC.

There are other shocking details including allegations that one of the sisters was taken to remote areas of the farm by a supervisor, who allegedly threatened her with pruning shears, termination and bodily harm and then sexually assaulted her repeatedly over a period of several months. The woman would not give in to the sexual demands and was fired. Here is a great article on 20 Ways to lesson your chances of sexual assult.

April 17, 2011

BET Sued For Sexual Harassment

Tameika Dorman filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the television entity known as Black Entertainment Television ("BET"). According to published reports about the sexual harassment lawsuit Dorman was editing a video session with a BET employee named Derek Clarke. The two were putting together a previously taped segment that Ms. Dorman was hosting and producing. Instead of focusing on the task at hand, Clarke began to repeatedly re-play video footage of her butt while she was dressed in a short skirt and walking up a set of stairs. Dorman claims this was a form of sexual harassment and the basis of her lawsuit.

Dorman asked him why he kept playing the segment of her butt and asked him to stop but he did not. Instead he grabbed his crotch, moaned and said he loved her butt. Dorman complained to management and asked that she not have to work with him in the future. What ended up happening was Dorman got removed from producing a major projected called BET Hip-Hop Honors and was eventually fired. Being fired within such a short period of time of reporting sexual harassment is referred to as retaliation. I am sure this is going to cost BET some money and I will keep readers posted of the outcome.

"Clarke grabbed and repeatedly rubbed his crotch, began to moan and said it was because he loved her butt, that she was sexy and that she did not know what he was going to do to her."

April 14, 2011

Prison Guard Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $75,000

Kimberley Picchiarini-Pallo has been paid $75,000 by Westmoreland County to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit she filed against the county prison and its officials. The sexual harassment lawsuit alleged that Pallo was threatened with termination of her job if she did not have sex with her supervisors. In the lawsuit she named the Warden John Walton, Deputy Warden Steve Cmar and Lt. John Hostoffer. It is not unusual to name multiple people in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Pallo claims the jail is nothing more than a place where male officers solicited sex from female officers. Pallo claims that the top officials at the jail knew what was going on and refuse to stop it. The county responded by saying Pallo was insubordinate and unprofessional in her duties as a corrections officer. Of course the $75,000 settlement amount should tell you which side of the story was more accurate. Pallo is no longer working for the county and the reason is because of the sexual harassment complaints so she could claim retaliation if they fired her or constructive discharge if she couldn't take the sexual harassment any longer and quit.

April 13, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Facts

Sexual harassment seems to be a growing problem for employees. It ends up being a double whamy. First, they are exposed to the sexual harassment and then usually to retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment. Unfortunately, many companies don't seem to spend the time properly training their human resource staff on how best to handle a sexual harassment complaint. I see many employees in my office who have been the victim of conduct that rises to the level of sexual harassment and then they report the conduct to human resources, only to be terminated. There seems to be a sense that if you rock the boat in a company, you get thrown off.

It is very important for employees to seek the advice of an experienced sexual harassment and employment law attorney once they first encounter a problem. The employee must realize that human resources is concerned with the best interest of the company and not necessarily the best interest of the employee. There are strict time limits in place for filing a complaint of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). For sexual harassment the complaint must be filed with the IDHR within 180 days and for the EEOC 300 days. Don't let the companies human resource department drag out an investigation and make you miss those filing dates.

April 11, 2011

Carole Pannozzo Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $30,000

Carole Pannozzo filed a sexual harassment complaint against her boss Robert Henry alleging that Henry made sexual comments to her and tried to have a sexual relationship with her. Pannozzo also alleged that when she complained, Henry engaged in retaliation by giving her a bad performance review. That case has now been settled and Pannozzo will received $30,000. Pannozzo held the title of executive director of human resources

The sexual harassment complaint was filed with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities which is similar to the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). This case shows that if you are willing to stand up for your rights and not get pushed around, you can get compensation. Even though the employer is claiming there was no wrongdoing, the settlement amount speaks for itself.

City Attorney Mark T. Anastasi said the settlement was reached to avoid costly litigation and what he called the "vagaries of a jury trial."


April 8, 2011

Adam Brothers Farms Pays $27,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

It seems like the workers who need the most protection are facing the most difficult working conditions. A recent case involving a vegetable packer illustrates the point. What makes this case even worse is the fact that the female who was the victim of sexual harassment was a teenager. Adam Brothers Farming, Inc. agreed to pay $27,500 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the teenage worker.

According to published accounts a male supervisor began sexually harassing the teen by asking the teenager to perform oral sex, touching her body, brushing his body against her backside, and making lewd gestures. The teenager reported the conduct that was taking place and the sexual harassment to a foreman in an attempt to have it stopped. But in an amazing series of events she was transferred and disciplined, then fired within two weeks of her complaint. This forms the basis of her retaliation claim. It is really shocking that the company acted this way.

“Our nation’s youngest workers can be particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, particularly in the agricultural industry.” said EEOC attorney Anna Park

Continue reading "Adam Brothers Farms Pays $27,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit" »

April 7, 2011

Trucking Company Pays $32,500 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Family owned trucking company Howard Sheppard, Inc. pays $32,500 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Sarah Waller. The lawsuit alleged Sheppard fired truck driver Waller in retaliation for making a complaint about sexual harassment. If an employee complains about discriminatory conduct and then has a negative job action taken against him or her, it is considered retaliation. In this case the complaint of sexual harassment was the discriminatory conduct and therefore being fired was retaliation.

Sheppard denied any liability or wrongdoing in the lawsuit however, they are paying $32,500 to settle the case. It still amazes me how many companies fire employees who complain about discrimination in the workplace. How hard would it have been to just investigate the sexual harassment complaint and take the appropriate action? Hopefully Sheppard learned a lesson and will do things different in the future.

“By coming forward with her discrimination charge, Ms. Waller’s efforts will go a long way towards preventing future mistreatment of female truck drivers.” said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins
April 6, 2011

United States Supreme Court Expands Workplace Protection

The United States Supreme Court recently expanded protections for employees who complain about violations in the workplace. In Thompson v. North American Stainless
the Court held that an employee who was fired because of the actions of a spouse or fiance could file a retaliation claim. In fact he Court said any third party can file a retaliation claim if the third party is being punished because of a claim of discrimination another employee is filing. In this case Eric Thompson was fired because his fiancee Miriam Regalado fired a gender discrimination complaint against North American Stainless where they both worked.

A very short time after Regalado filed her gender discrimination claim Thompson was fired. The Court did not buy the company position that if it allowed Thompson to succeed on his claim it would open the floodgate of complaints against employers. This is a very important case because it allows other employees to file claims of retaliation if a negative job action is taken against them for supporting another employees claim of discrimination.

The Court said "it was obvious that a reasonable worker might be dissuaded from engaging in protected activity if she knew that her fiance would be fired."
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 2, 2011

College Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $20,000

Arkansas Baptist College ("ABC") pays $20,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Mary Jarrett. According to details which have become public, Jarrett was retaliated against because she previously filed a discrimination claim against the college and the college canceled her contract based on the former complaint. Her previous discrimination complaint involved age discrimination and gender discrimination among others.

My chicago office is seeing an increase in the number of college and university related claims of discrimination. I don't know if it is the arrogance of college administrators or the fact that the job market is so tight right now that people think they can engage in discrimination against workers. I am glad to see Mary Jarrett stick to her guns and not let the college push her around. There are protections available to people who file discrimination charges and hopefully the college learned a lesson on how to treat employees.

“It is plainly illegal to fire an employee for engaging in her statutorily protected right of filing a charge with the EEOC, and we are pleased that the parties were able to resolve this matter.” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams

Continue reading "College Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $20,000" »

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 31, 2011

South Basin Packing Pays $80,000 To Settle ADA Discrimination Lawsuit

South Basin Packing will pay $80,000 to settle an Americans With Disabiliy Act ("ADA") discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts South Basin fired a worker immediately after he informed the company of his recent diagnosis for a chronic medical condition. This is a violation of the ADA because employers by law are required to make reasonable accommodations for an employee disability.

In Illinois my office is seeing an increase in the number of ADA claims filed by employees. Of course I am seeing an increase in all types of employment discrimination lawsuits. It seems that employers are forgetting about how to properly treat employees and they are disregarding the law. There could also be a claim for retaliation if the employee is terminated for complaining about an ADA related issue.

EEOC atorney William R. Tamayo said, “This settlement should emphasize to employers that hiring and firing decisions must be based on facts -- whether or not an applicant or employee has the ability to do the job -- and not fears concerning disability.”
March 29, 2011

International Profit Associates Pays $8 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

International Profit Associates pays $8 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that involves 82 female employees. The lawsuit was filed against the Buffalo Grove Illinois company by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the women. You can see how long these cases can take as this case was filed 10 years ago.

The main allegations against the company were that women were regularly propositioned for sex, offered job benefits contingent on the performance of sexual acts and offered money for sex. In some cases women were given negative job performances if they did not go along with the requests for sex which is retaliation. More than 40 women reported being sexually assaulted consisting of everything from attempted rape to slapping

“This is, by far, the most egregious sexual harassment that our Chicago office has ever seen,” said EEOC attorney Diane Smason
March 28, 2011

Lanlord Sued For Sexual Harassment

Rawland Leon Sorensen, the owner and manager of more than 50 residential rental properties in Bakersfield is being sued for sexual harassment in violation of the Fair Housing Act. In Illinois a landlord could also be sued for sexual harassment under the Illinois Human Rights Act and specifically under the public accomodation provision. The claim would be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR").

According to published reports the victim alleges Sorensen sexually harassed female tenants by making unwelcome sexual comments. Some of the details include Sorensen exposing his genitals to female tenants. Sorensen would allegedly take adverse actions against women who refused his sexual advances. So another words he would engage in retaliation if a women did not obey him.

“No person should have to fear sexual harassment from a landlord who holds a key to their home.” said attorney Thomas E. Perez
March 25, 2011

Country Inn Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $85,000

Country Inn pays $85,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Candace Bland and other female employees. According to published accounts Bland who worked as a housekeeper, and other female staff members employed in the kitchen were subjected to sexual harassment by male employees. A very troubling piece of evidence was that two of the females that were sexually harassed were 18-year-old high school students.

Details of the sexual harassment included male employees requesting the women go out on dates and the use of sexually explicit language. Additionally the males engaged in offensive and unwelcome touching and groping of the female employees. In the most bizarre allegation, a female claims the male exposed himself to her while she was working. Bland complained to the owner and management, but the employer failed to stop the sexual harassment and instead unlawfully reduced the working hours of women who had complained to punish them. This is referred to as retaliation and is the basis for the second charge.

“Sexual harassment of employees in the hospitality industry continues to be a serious problem,” said EEOC attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
March 24, 2011

DiMare Ruskin Farms Subjecting Women To Sexual Harassment

DiMare Ruskin, Inc. had a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") claiming the company subjected an entire class of females to sexual harassment and then retaliation, when they complained about it. According to published accounts, father-and-son supervisors at the DiMare tomato facility subjected female employees to severe sexual harassment. Any sexual harassment is horrible but some instances are more aggregious than others and in this case the alleged sexual harassment was on the high end of the scale.

The sexual harassment included physical contact such as groping and forcibly attempting to kiss the female employees. It seems as though the father-and-son team thought they could do anything to these females and no one could hold them responsible. There was also verbal harassment, which included the usual vulgar sexual comments. When the females decided to complain the father-and-son supervisors engaged in retaliation. Retaliation takes place when a negative job action results from a complaint of discriminatory conduct.

“It is crucial that the EEOC continue its efforts to eradicate sexual harassment and all other types of discrimination from the workplace whether it occurs in an office, a factory, at a construction site or in agricultural fields.” said EEOC attorney Robert Weisberg

Continue reading "DiMare Ruskin Farms Subjecting Women To Sexual Harassment" »

March 22, 2011

Wild Beaver Saloon Sued For Pregnancy Discrimination

The Wild Beaver Saloon is being sued for pregnancy discrimination because it unlawfully fired a female bartender/server because of her pregnancy. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after settlement talks broke down. Employers have to be mindful that once an employee gets pregnant, she just can't be fired for that reason. I am glad this female did not just go along with the program and instead filed a complaint with the EEOC.

In a case like this it is not uncommon to seek compensatory and punitive damages as well as a permanent injunction to prevent the company from engaging in any employment practice that discriminates against any employee. Over 90% of cases end up settling prior to trial so there is a good chance this case will settle as well. Many times along with filing a complaint of pregnancy discrimination there will be corresponding complaints of gender discrimination and retaliation.

“Employees who become pregnant should not lose their jobs because of their condition,” said EEOC attorney Laurie A. Young
March 14, 2011

Text Messages Help Sexual Harsassment Case

There is good news for those who are victims of sexual harassment and their bosses is doing some of the harassing via the cell phone. Even deleted text messages can be retrieved and used in court. Text messages provide solid evidence and make it hard to deny what is being said. Americans sent 173 billion texts monthly last year, up from 7 billion a month in 2005, according to CTIA-The Wireless Association. It is now common for all levels of employees in corporations to utilize text messaging as a legitimate form of communications.

If you are receiving text messages which you believe are sexual in nature or an attempt to start an inappropriate relationship, you should save them and print them out. You should also contact an employment attorney so you can maximize the affectiveness of the messages and plan a strategy. Many times employees who come forward with claims of sexual harassment end up getting terminated or are otherwise the victims of retaliation.

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.”
March 6, 2011

Brand Energy Pays $110,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Brand Energy & Infrastructure Services, Inc. ("Brand") pays $110,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of former employee, Jauronice Hayes. According to published accounts Hayes worked for Brand at its Conoco Phillips facility and was sexually harassed by her male supervisor. Some of the sexual harassment included inappropriate sexual statements, requests and demands for sexual favors, and sexual touching.

And probably the most revealing testimony was that the supervisor exposed his genitals to Hayes and informed Hayes that if she did not have sex with him, she would be laid off. Threats for sex are not only illegal but forms of sexual harassment and retaliation. In this case Hayes anonymously complained about the sexual harassment to a company hotline and also repeatedly opposed the sexual harassment and rejected her supervisor’s sexual advances.

“I just wanted to do my job and be left alone,” said Hayes. “My boss touching my body and trying to pressure me to have sex with him really hurt me. No woman should have to choose between putting up with this kind of abuse or losing her job and not being able to support her family."

Continue reading "Brand Energy Pays $110,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit" »

March 5, 2011

Jury Awards $1.5 Million in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Mid-American Specialties

Mid-American Specialties must pay $1.5 million after a jury found they violated federal law in the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Mid- American had two managers who subjected three female employees to severe sexual harassment. The sexual harassment consisted of forcing one woman to place her hands on his penis area. Another example was senior managers would make the females become part of what they called the smooching club in order to receive sales leads.

The females rejected these advances and as a result two females were fired which constitutes retaliation. To make matters worse Mid-American had no sexual harassment policy, no training on sexual harassment, and no reporting procedures in place during this time. In what might have been the most remarkable testimony at trial, senior people from the company testified that they did not think that sexual harassment policies and procedures were necessary, so the complaints by the women were not taken seriously. The human resources manager testified that she did not even know the definition of sexual harassment at the time of the events.

"This jury verdict sends the strongest possible message to employers that sexual harassment and retaliation should never be tolerated in the work place,” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams
February 13, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits On The Rise

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

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

February 8, 2011

King Cones Ice Cream Shop Serving More Than Ice Cream

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

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

February 6, 2011

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

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

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

“I was shocked when they fired me.” “After working there for several years with a good record, I thought they would at least hear me out when I raised my complaint -- not fire me on the spot." Perez said.
February 4, 2011

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

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

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

February 1, 2011

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

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

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

Logan said he had no comment about the complaints.
January 27, 2011

Former Pharmacy College Students File Lawsuit Against Professor For Sexual Harassment

Former student Daniel Papelino can sue a New York pharmacy college for sexual harassment and retaliation after he complained his chemistry teacher was making unwanted sexual advances on him. His case was initially thrown out by the lower court however, the the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overruled the lower court and is allowing the lawsuit. According to details which have been published, Papelino was a student at Union University's Albany College of Pharmacy and he alleges Deanne Nowak his chemistry professor constantly flirted with him, badgered him to go out with her, and offered to give him extra points on exams.

Things got even more sexual when the two met in Nowak's office. Papelino alleges Nowak put her backside in his face and touched his crotch. Papelino got to the point where he went to the associate dean of student affairs but only a show investigation was performed and Papelino ended up getting kicked out of the university. After going to the dean, Nowak started her own independed investigation into Papelino claiming he was cheating on an exam. Papelino was expelled from school for violating the honor code, however the appeals court found no evidence to support the allegation that Papelino was cheating.

Nowark allegedly told Papelino "Do you know how lonely I've been lately? I thought you might be interested in knowing that."
"Although Dean White was responsible for administering the student code, he did nothing to investigate Papelino's complaint," Judge Chin said. "He did not follow the procedures established by ACP [the college] for processing complaints of sexual harassment. He did not 'take care' of the situation as he had told Papelino he would."

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January 26, 2011

Village Pays $75,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Village President Thomas Kempinski

Former village employee Ann Kaczmarek settled her sexual harassment lawsuit against the village and the president Thomas Kempinski for $75,000. According to published accounts Kaczmarek alleged Kempinski and the Village Board engaged in retaliation against her for complaining about sexual harassment and ended up firing her. Kaczmarek alleged that Kempinski made sexually suggestive comments and inappropriately touched her during her employment with the village.

Kaczmarek also alleged Kempinski called her during non-work hours to discuss his personal matters and expected her to accompany him on his personal errands away from Village Hall. This would be easy to prove with cell phone records and perhaps witnesses who saw the two of them together around town during work hours. You can see by the size of the settlement that the evidence must have been pretty good in favor of Kaczmarek.

January 24, 2011

Lesbian Fitness Instructors File Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit Against Gym Owner

Deborah Cooke and Christina Rodino both lesbian fitness instructors filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination based on sexual orientation and the creation of a hostile work environment against gym owner David Barton and his gym David Barton Gym. According to published accounts both women were fired after they put up with antigay comments and sexual harassment. Some of the details of the lawsuit include allegations that Cooke was called Lesbian Deb and asked by a male coworker whether she was going to strap on a penis tonight.

When the women complained about the discrimination the owner fired them which would constitute retaliation. There are facts in this case which indicate the gym had a large gay membership and this type of behavior is not only illegal if proven but also from a business standpoint stupid. This blog will keep track of the lawsuit and post updates when they happen. My guess is the case will settle prior to trial like most lawsuits do.

They both claim they were asked to “engage in sexual relations with another woman at the workplace."


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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 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 17, 2011

Former Finance Officer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $250,000

The city of Winder paid Sue Fowler, a former accounts payable manager $250,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. According to published accounts of the settlement Fowler claimed that she was fired after filing a sexual harassment complaint. Being fired after filing a sexual harassment complaint would be retaliation. In order to prove Fowler was fired for a non-discriminatory reason the city would have to allege facts that would support some type of misconduct or lack of fitness for the job.

Fowler claimed she was dismissed shortly after complaining that finance director Leslie Ginn repeatedly made sexual advances toward her. She said Ginn repeatedly tried to entice her into a sexual relationship. I would suspect there was some pretty good evidence for the city to pay $250,000 to settle this case. If there were no evidence, I would imagion the city would just fight the case and win at trial. Fowler alleged city leaders chose to include her in some layoffs early in 2009 because of the sexual harassment complaint--which makes up her retaliation complaint.

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 15, 2011

Northwest Cosmetic Labs Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $30,000

Northwest Cosmetic Labs will pay $30,000 to settle a lawsuit based on national origin and retaliation. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf on a British subject born in Zimbabwe. According to published accounts, the employee was hired after a series of phone interviews for a full-time paid internship in cosmetic formulation. She did not interview in person because she was living in England at the time. Upon her arrival in Idaho Falls, she was told by her supervisor that employees at the company would likely be surprised to find out that she was black, since she was British.

What really happened of course was the company saw she was black and did not want her to be an employee. What the company did was try to make it so she failed because she was not the white person they thought they were getting. She received little to no direction from her supervisors and was rarely given assignments, despite her repeated requests to be given work. Her treatment stood in stark contrast to that of the company’s two other interns, who were both Caucasian. She was fired a short time laster.

“Instead of encountering the exemplary American values of justice and equality, this young visitor was treated to discrimination and punishment for standing up for her rights,” said EEOC attorney Michael Baldonado.
January 13, 2011

Seymour ZX settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $20,000

Seymour ZX a franchisee of the Zaxby’s restaurant chain, pays $20,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two former employees. According to published lawsuit documements, two employees of a Zaxby’s were fired because they complained about sexual harassment. Both employees were fired on the same day and banned from the store. If someone complains of sexual harassment and is fired or has other negative job actions taken against him, it is referred to as retaliation and it is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In this case the company should have taken the sexual harassment cases seriously and not fired to two workers. Shooting the messenger is never a good idea. There are more cases of retaliation taking place and employers need to educate themselves as to the legal ramifications if they choose to terminate employees for bring illegal acts to their attention. I am glad the EEOC was able to get to the bottom of this case and settle it in a manner that was good for the two fired employees.

“Retaliation charges have been on the rise for years, and it is a real concern,” said EEOC attorney Faye Williams.
January 11, 2011

Discrimination Filings With the EEOC Hit All-Time High

Discrimination charges filed by workers against their employers have reached an all-time high according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The discrimination that is taking place against workers is at an unprecedented level of 99,922 cases filed during 2010. During that same period of time the EEOC secured more than $404 million in monetary benefits from employers -- the highest level of monetary relief ever obtained by the Commission through the administrative process.

The EEOC broke the categories down into the top five in terms of the most cases that are filed. The numbers are as follows: Retaliation under all statutes (36,258), racial discrimination (35,890) Disability discrimination--Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") (25,165) age discrimination (23,264) and sexual harassment (11,717). I believe the increase in discrimination charges is a direct result of the bad economy and the belief by management that they can do what they want with employees and get away with it.

EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien said. "Discrimination continues to be a substantial problem for too many job seekers and workers, and we must continue to build our capacity to enforce the laws that ensure that workplaces are free of unlawful bias."
January 9, 2011

Women Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit For $110,000

Testing company Measurement Inc. pays $110,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Jacqueline Dukes. According to published accounts Measurement Inc. discriminated against Jacqueline Dukes when it fired her for refusing to work on her Sabbath. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and applicants because of their religion. Title VII requires employers to reasonably accommodate individuals as long as it does not create an undue hardship on the employer.

Dukes is a member of a Christian denomination called Children of Yisrael which prohibits its members from working on the Sabbath, from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday. The EEOC enforces federal law when it comes to employment issues related to discrimination. In this case, the employer could have made a reasonable accomodation for Dukes and this would have saved the company a great deal of money. The EEOC could have filed an additional charge of retaliation against the company for firing Dukes. Many times EEOC complaints will have multiple counts and allegations.

"Some employers still need to be educated that they are required by law to explore reasonable accommodations to solve situations like this,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes.
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 3, 2011

Former Grocery Store Manager Accused Of Sexual Harassment

Eleven former employees of a grocery store called Paul's Big M claim the manager, Allen Manwaring, sexually harassed them physically and verbally over eight years. According to the females allegations Manwaring rubbed himself against them in a sexual way and also touched their breasts and buttocks. As if that weren't enough he also made sexual advances and vulgar comments to them. The sexual harassment lawsuit is finally coming to trial today and this blog will keep you updated as to the result.

Two of the young females were fired after they complained, which is considered retaliation. The other nine said they quit because of the harassment or retaliation, which is considered a constructive discharge. The case was first filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the EEOC conducted an investigation which substantiated the female workers claims.

“For many, the job at the company was the first they ever held and all were essentially half Mr. Manwaring’s age at the time they were first harassed,” the EECO said.
December 30, 2010

Illinois Department Of Corrections Sued For Sexual Harassment

Just when the State of Illinois is facing serious economic troubles and things don't look like they can get much worse--they are. Aaron Anderson who is a former correctional officer at the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") and two supervisors. In the lawsuit he seeks in excess of $400,000 plus attorney fees. Also named in the lawsuit are Joseph J. McCray and Randy Newstrand.

According to court documents Anderson claims he was the victim of sexual harassment while employed at the prison. His claims include his male supervisors making inappropriate sexual comments to him and inappropriately touching his groin and buttocks. Things only got worse when he complained to management which helped lead to this lawsuit. In fact Anderson claimed the IDOC engaged in retaliation against him for complaining by imposing a 10-day suspension.

"Anderson claims he was physically restrained and assaulted by other guards with a supervisor jokingly asking how he liked being sexually assaulted or raped."


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 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 26, 2010

Doctor Sued For Sexual Harassment

Dr. Edward Kleiner had a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by three former employees who accuse him of perverse transgressions. According to published accounts the three women allege he sexted them, groped them, offered weight-loss tips, exposed his penis, and once brought an inflatable sex doll to the office.

The most unusual allegation was that he instructed a married couple to have sex in the office bathroom to produce sperm for an artificial-insemination procedure on the wife. This goes beyond creepy.

"We heard constant banging against the wall," says Samantha Romanger, a 21-year-old administrative assistant.

Then Kleiner allegedly told Romanger and another administrative assistant, Lauren Schlanger, to join him in the exam room and witness the artificial insemination.

"I refused. I said, 'I don't like this, and I don't think its legal,' " Romanger said. "He said, 'One of you are coming in the room, end of story.' I felt violated. I don't want to hear anyone having sex. And we're the ones who have to clean the office."


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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.

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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

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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.

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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.
November 23, 2010

Holiday Inn Sued for Sexual Harassment

Tamara Byrd and other female employees who worked at the Holiday Inn Express in Simpsonville had a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed on their behalf by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit a new general manager who isn't named in the complaint, took over at the hotel and engaged in a pattern of harassing behavior toward Byrd and other female employees. The most troubling allegation was that two months after the manager was hired, Byrd was fired in retaliation for turning away repeated sexual advances including touching and complaining to company owners.

Byrd complained but the owners dismissed her complaints in one day without a thorough investigation. A week after she complained to corporate officials, the manager told Byrd that he had feelings for her and winked at her and Byrd was fired two days later. When a termination occurs a short time after complaining of discrimination or sexual harassment it is usually in retaliation for reporting the conduct.

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.
October 27, 2010

Cost Of Defending A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

This case is a prime example of how much it could cost to defend a sexual harassment lawsuit. The city of Dallas spent nearly $1.4 million in legal fees defending itself in three sexual harassment lawsuits filed by four women against Dallas Fire-Rescue. The real interesting fact is that the women received a good deal less than $1.4 million. So the most obvious question is why not settle the lawsuits quickly and save the taxpayers money? Two of the females Cheryl HIll and Sherrir Lopez received a total of $225,000. A third employee Helen Watts settled her sexual harassment lawsuit for $30,000 and the fourth litigant Leanne Siri-Edwards case is still pending.

I believe it is a bad business decision to spend more money on legal fees than it cost to settle the cases. Basically, the city spent $1.4 million to defend claims that were settled for a total of $255,000. I don't know many successful business people who would run their business in that fashion. As an example of the type of sexual harassment the woman endured Ms. Hill found fluid in her coffee cup. Testing on the cup later confirmed that the fluid was semen. Hill said that although a male employee was later placed on paid leave after admitting to being the perpetrator, she was the victim of retaliation by her supervisors for filing the grievance.

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 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 19, 2010

Planet Ford Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $160,000

Planet Ford pays $160,000 to settle a sexual harassment, age discrimination and racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Published accounts claims that one employee was subjected to race discrimination by his supervisor and was retaliated against for complaining about the supervisor’s discriminatory conduct. Another employee was subjected to sexual harassment by the supervisor. The sexual harassment included comments of a sexual nature and taunts by the supervisor that the original complainant, who is heterosexual, was engaging in homosexual activities.

The supervisor also repeatedly berated the employee for being too old for the job and washed up in the industry. The supervisor repeatedly sabotaged the employees work efforts. Both employees complained to management but nothing was done by Planet Ford to put a stop to the conduct. In the end one employee transferred and one quit. This is considered retaliation by Planet Ford because they did nothing to stop the discrimination and forced the complaining employees into other positions as a result of their complaints.

“This settlement demonstrates that harsh treatment against workers because of their age and/or race, whether they are white or members of other races, will be aggressively opposed by the EEOC,” said EEOC Attorney Jim Sacher.

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 14, 2010

Strip Club Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $95,000

A strip club called Papermoon will pay $95,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Papermoon subjected two black doormen to racial harassment, segregation, and differing terms and conditions of employment. The company also engaged in retaliation against white employees who complained about the treatment they witnessed.

Managers at the Papermoon referred to black employees using offensive racial slurs, forced black employees to work in the back of the club instead of at the club entrance, and complained that “black music makes the club look bad.” Additionally company managers did not stop the harassment, but instead either forced out or fired white employees who opposed the abusive conduct. This type of behavior is not tolerated and is illegal. As you can see this type of activity cost the club almost $100,000.

“It is important for employers to recognize that this type of racial discrimination has no place in the modern workplace,” said EEOC Attorney Robert Weisberg. “Employers must treat employees of all races with dignity.”
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 2, 2010

Veterinary Clinic Sued For Sexual Harassment By EEOC

East Hawaii Veterinary Center a veterinary clinic is being sued for sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was filed by the EEOC on behalf of at least six female employees, ranging from receptionists to a veterinarian, who were subjected to extremely offensive, vulgar comments geared solely toward female staff by a co-owner of the clinic. The male staff members were not subjected to any of this type of behavior.

On a near-daily basis, the co-owner insulted the women by calling them “worthless,” “whores” and other extremely vulgar epithets, and generally treated the women differently. When one of the females complained about what was going on, a different co-owner took no action to stop it and fired at least three of the females which is retaliation. Others were forced to quit and this is referred to as a constructive discharge. A constructive discharge takes place when the company takes steps to make work so miserable for a worker that the worker is forced to quit. This type of behavior by professionals is remarkable and will end up costing them money.

“Supervisors and top managers have a higher duty to ensure a workplace free of hostility,” said Anna Y. Park, EEOC attorney “Women have the right to work without the utter degradation displayed here, and the EEOC will fight to ensure that employers pay for such injustices.”
September 30, 2010

Fry's Electronics Sued For Sexual Harassment

Fry's Electronics is being sued for sexual harassment of a young female employee and retaliation for actions it took against her supervisor after he spoke out on her behalf. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of America Rios. According to published documents an assistant manager began to sexually harass sales associate America Rios who was under 21 years old at the time. Rios repeatedly refused his advances but the harasser continually sent her sexually charged text messages with invitations to his house and offers of alcohol.

Rios reported the sexual harassment to her immediate supervisor, Ka Lam. Lam immediately spoke to upper management about the sexual harassment and was told to focus on his job and that some changes might be happening. A very short time after Lam reported the sexual harassment he was fired for poor performance, even though the EEOC found that he had never received a bad review and had consistently been promoted during his four years with the company.

“This was my first job,” said Rios. “I was overwhelmed, uncomfortable, stressed out, and I didn’t know what to do. I tried to let it go, but I felt violated and didn’t know how to pretend that nothing happened.”

“I worked hard for this company, and tried to do what was right by standing up for Ms. Rios,” said Lam. “Firing me for speaking out was wrong.”

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September 29, 2010

McDonalds Franchise Pays $15,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A McDonald's franchise pays an female ex-employee $15,000 to resolve her sexual harassment lawsuit which also included a charge of retaliation. Published accounts claim that cashier Gladys Rivera was subjected to consistent sexual harassment by a male co-worker for several months. She claims that a supervisor and restaurant manager knew of the sexual harassment and did nothing to stop it. She kept complaining about the sexual harassment and was terminated because she would not stop complaining. This is called retaliation.

Rivera also alleged the same co-worker slapped her on the backside and said Rivera looks good. Although McDonalds denied that Rivera was sexually harassed, several witnesses interviewed by the human rights division supported Rivera's version of events. I suspect that the additional witnesses are what caused the company to settle the case. In Illinois you can file a claim of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they will cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

Rivera alleged that a co-worker, Edwin Andujar of Newark, invited her to get together in private and "see how much of a man I am."
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 27, 2010

Holiday Inn Sued For Sexual Harassment

The Holiday Inn is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment. According to published accounts the Holiday Inn fired front desk clerk Beatriz Garcia for complaining about being sexually harassed by her boss. Firing her for reporting sexual harassment would be retaliation and is an additional charge that Holiday Inn is being charged with. According to the complaint, Garcia was subjected of unwelcome touching, sexual comments and threats in response to complaining about the sexual harassment from a supervisor.

Garcia was fired in retaliation for complaining about the harassment to Holiday Inn management and faced further retaliation for filing a complaint with the EEOC. This type of behavior is not tolerated and what really makes things bad is her former manager at the Holiday Inn called her new employer in an attempt to warn him about Garcia and obtain her new contact information. This type of activity will be the undoing of the case for Holiday Inn and I suspect they will settle rather than go to trial.

"I came to this country to work hard and achieve the American Dream. Soon after being promoted, I realized that the promotion came at a price I did not want to pay. I could not continue to work where I was being treated as a sexual object." Garcia said.
"By law, employers must protect their workers and take responsibility for the actions of their supervisors," said EEOC attorney William Tamayo.

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September 24, 2010

Mineral Met Pays $440,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Mineral Met pays $440,000 to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, a class of black employees was subjected to racial hostility and discriminatory behavior at Mineral Met’s Cleveland facility. The examples of the discrimination are plentyful. Quality Control Supervisor Langston Satterwhite had an excellent work history, but a white supervisor unfairly disciplined him for trivial matters, such as having facial hair or using a cell phone, even though white co-workers were not reprimanded for doing the same things.

Satterwhite complained to upper management about the racial discrimination he and other black employees experienced, but these complaints only resulted retaliation. Also once Satterwhile came forward and complained the company moved his office from the second floor, where other managers worked, and placed him in the basement with his subordinates. This type of behavior is obviously discriminatory and one has to wonder what the company was thinking. At the end of the day, companies are going to be held accountable for their actions and should think twice about how they handle situations.

“I am very pleased that Mineral Met has agreed to a settlement that not only remedies the harmed individuals, but implements policies preventing reoccurrence of such egregious behavior,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence.
September 15, 2010

Hospital Worker Gets $50,000 To Settle Retaliation and Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

A San Juan hospital pays $50,000 to settle a religious discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Javier Gonzalez-Torres. According to published accounts of the lawsuit, Torres claims the hospital failed to accomodate his religious beliefs. Torres worked at the hospital as a registered nurse and told the hospital that he could not cut his hair because of his religion, Santeria.

The hospital refused to allow him to wear his hair long, even though the hospital has a policy allowing female employees to wear their hair any length. If that weren't bad enough the hospital retaliated against Gonzalez-Torres by firing him after he complained about the discrimination. There seem to more be men filing discrimination charges with the EEOC. I don't know why the hospital would have a problem letting a man have the same length of hair a women does.

“Employers must reasonably accommodate employees’ religious beliefs and practices, and there is no gender distinction for that,” said EEOC Attorney Michael O’Brien.
September 12, 2010

Former Barn Manager Awarded $930,000 In Retaliation Lawsuit

A jury awarded Keri Gall, a former barn manager $930,000 after finding that her termination from the Funny Farm Inc., was retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. According to published articles, Gall claimed another male worker tried to hug her and kiss her on the lips during her employment. Gall reported the sexual harassment to the owner who terminated her 6 1/2 weeks later.

Maybe the best piece of evidence was the fact that only five days before being fired the owner offered Gall a $70,000 severance package if she left voluntarily. That offer was not accepted. You can see by the size of the severance package that the owner must have felt there was a strong case for the sexual harassment. This award seems very high but you have to realize that she was terminted and depending on how long it takes to find a job and what the income level was, the damages can add up. Also in this case the jury awarded a large amount in punitive damages.

Gall said she was "very happy" with the award. "I would have loved to let go and move on," she said. "It was something I had to do for my family."
September 8, 2010

Illinois Church Ordered To Pay $63,045 In Sexual Harassment Case

Cheryl Lockard is awarded $63,045 in her sexual harassment and retaliation case against the Rev. Keith Jones and the First Baptist Church of Canton Illinois. The Illinois Human Rights Commission declined further review of a matter in which administrative law judge Michael Robinson ruled in favor of Lockard and issued the award. Lockard is a former employee of the church and claims she was sexually harassed by Jones and once she reported the sexual harassment the church engaged in retaliation and fired her.

The church appealled the decision by Judge Robinson with the Illinois Human Rights Commission and the Commission upheld Judge Robinson's order. Along with paying Lockard $63,045 the Church and Jones must also pay her attorney fees, issue a neutral job reference letter and clear her work record. It is unusual to file an appeal with the Illinois Human Rights Commission because of the cost involved (in legal fees) and the narrow avenue for having the Judge's ruling overturned.

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September 7, 2010

Interior Decorator Settles Sexual Harassment Case for $250,000

It looks like being an interior decorator is a pretty good way to make a living-that is if you have ties to the housing authority. According to published reports, the Philadelphia Housing Authority ("PHA") will pay through its' insurance company $250,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim against executive director Carl R. Greene. The claim was first filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") by Elizabeth Helm, 29, a former interior decorator with PHA. According to her allegations Greene made advances including touching, grabbing, and groping her. Helm repeatedly told Greene to stop but Greene continued to forcibly and physically pursue inappropriate and unwanted contact of an intimate nature with her.

Because of this sexual harassment Helm was advised by her doctor not to return to work. She requested a medical leave, but was denied one by PHA. Because she was denied she took her vacation time and when it was exhausted and she did not return to work, PHA stopped paying her. She then applied for unemployment and PHA engaged in retaliation by fighting her claim. Fighting unemployment when allegations like this are brought to the attention of management is just stupid. It only makes the person want to pursue a claim and makes the amount available to them in damages increase. Additionally, if a person is unable to continue at work because of the discriminatory actions that are taking place at work, it is called a constructive discharge.


September 6, 2010

Former Moline Illinois Public Library Worker Gets $1 Million for Retaliation Lawsuit

Mary Clark a former Moline Public Library worker settled her retaliation lawsuit with the city of Moline for $1 million. According to published reports Clark who worked for the library for 24-years, claimed Leslie Kee a retired library director fired her in retaliation for complaints she made against the director. It all started back in 2008 when Clark complained to the library board alleging Kee was creating a hostile work environment, and acting in a vulgar and offensive manner. The lawsuit claimed that Kee and the City of Moline were discriminating based on sexual harassment, racial discrimination and national origin. In cases like this it is not unusual to have multiple claims of discrimination. She is basically saying I complained about all these types of behavior and as a result I was retaliated against by being fired.

After the complaint to the board Kee was reprimanded for her behavior and one month later, Kee recommended to the library board that Clark’s position be eliminated to save money. Clark was fired and based on the close proximity to her complaint, one could see the retaliation. The city was fighting the lawsuit but statements began to emerge that hurt the city's case and they decided to settle. You can see how important it is to have documents that are favorable to your case. In this case, a million dollar settlement was reached because of the documents.

“The city and insurance company were surprised and disappointed by the content of those statements,” city officials said.

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September 5, 2010

Female State Police Officer Sues For Sexual Harassment

Ann Marie LaFauci a State Police office worker filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, alleging that a female lieutenant continually flirted with her, then bullied and threatened her after she rejected the advances. According to the lawsuit LaFauci claims Detective Lieutenant Barbara J. Bennett repeatedly called her “girlfriend,’’ once joked that she should wear a thong to work, and often insisted the two be alone for lunch or while driving to meetings. Bennett married her longtime female companion in 2004 after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage. Bennett serves as the State Police liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community.

This is an unusual case as it not only involves sexual harassment but also sexual orientation discrimination and woman on woman sexual harassment. LaFauci alleges that she was upset by the overtures and told Bennett to stop at which point Bennett cut her hours, unfairly disciplined her, and told her, “Who knows, AnnMarie, accidents happen, they could find you in the back parking lot with blood pouring out of your head.’’ All of those would constitute retaliation and should not happen in the workplace.

“The way she was treating me was almost like a jealous ex- boyfriend being overpossessive,’’ said LaFauci, adding that she was once ordered to fetch toiletries from Bennett’s locker. “And when I told her I couldn’t be treated that way, she snapped.’’


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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.”
August 8, 2010

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

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

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

August 4, 2010

Danger Of Making False Sexual Harassment Claim

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

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

"The system is not to be used improperly," Ostly said.
July 31, 2010

Police Administrative Assistant Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $188,000

Lisa Easi, who was employed as an administrative assistant to chief deputy Terry Tichava, settled her sexual harassment lawsuit against him and the department for $188,000. According to her complaint, Tichava would touch her, make lewd comments and force her into lewd sexual positions. The sexual harassment also included sexual jokes. Easi complained to Tichava's superiors however nothing was done to stop the sexual harassment.

Easi claims she was fired after she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This would also be referred to as retaliation. When people settle their lawsuits they don't admit liability as part of the settlement however, paying this large amount of money gives you an idea of the truth of the allegations.

July 30, 2010

Broccoli Packing Company Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $48,000

Hilltown Packing Company settles sexual harassment lawsuit for $48,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Filomena Ruelas and other women who worked for the company. According to published reports, Ruelas and others were sexually harassed by their supervisor and then the company engaged in retaliation when they opposed the sexual harassment.

The company which packages Broccoli denied any wrongdoing but the settlement amount should serve as evidence as to what really happened. Supervisors are in a position of authority over employees and they must act in a responsible manner. I am glad that the EEOC stepped in and held the company responsible.

“Women in the agricultural industry are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, especially immigrant women who may not be proficient in English and are unaware of their employment rights,” said EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo.
July 27, 2010

Female Farmworkers Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $300,000

The Musselman Company will pay $300,000 to a class of female workers to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed the by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the women. In court papers the EEOC alleged a class of female farmworkers was subjected to sexual harassment by male coworkers at its processing plant. The sexual harassment included lewd comments and unwanted sexual advances.

The male coworkers also used a forklift to chase women as they walked down the hall. The company wrongfully disciplined or reassigned employees in retaliation for their complaints about the abusive treatment. The EEOC was able to hold the company responsible and make them pay a significant amount of money.

"The EEOC has seen a troubling number of sexual harassment charges filed by farmworkers across the country,” said Debra Lawrence, the regional attorney of 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
July 20, 2010

Federal Court Says No Questions About Sexual History In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A federal district court ordered an employer to stop questioning Hispanic farm workers who filed charges of sexual harassment and retaliation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") concerning their immigration status, employment history and, in one woman’s case, her sexual history. The employer is this case was trying to kick up as much dirt as possible to distract from what was really taking place.

The Judge reasoned that the public interest would be far better served if meritorious discrimination claims were filed by immigrants regardless of their status. Another words, if people have to fear being deported or getting into immigration trouble they are less likely to come forward and complain about sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination.


July 17, 2010

Illinois Elks Lodge Pays $107,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

An Elks Lodge in Jerseyville Illinois will pay $107,500 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of three female bartendors. According to the lawsuit the club’s trustees sexually harassed the three female bartenders. Details of the claims include that three trustees made repeated unwelcome sexual advances and sexually explicit comments to three bartenders but when the women complained, they were threatened, their hours were cut and they were assigned the least desirable shifts. This type of treatment is also referred to as retaliation.

One woman was fired, and the other two felt forced to quit. When an employee feels that because of discrimination directed toward them they must quit their job, the legal term utilized to describe it is constructive discharge. As part of the settlement, the Elks Lodge also agreed to conduct sexual harassment training for Elks managers and employees and to report complaints of sex harassment made by Elks employees to the EEOC regional attorney for a period of three years

July 15, 2010

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against City Administrator Settled For $600,000

Carmel City will pay $600,000 to settle a sexual harassment and age discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed against the city because allegedly the city's top administrator Rich Guillen sexually harassed Jane Kingsley Miller, the city's human resource manager. After Miller rejected the sexual advances she claims Guillen engaged in retaliation. Miller alleged in her lawsuit that the office was a buzz with sexual activity and two women who had sex with Guillen were rewarded while her position was eliminated after she refused to have sex with Guillen.

In the lawsuit Miller alleged that what was going on in the office was common knowledge around City Hall and nothing was done to stop it. Miller was 63 years old and anyone over the age of 40 may allege age discrimination if they have facts to support it. Cases like this show how public entities throw tax payer money around like there is a printing machine in the back room. I don't know what Miller was making per year in salary but the smarter thing to do would have been to buy her position out and retire her once she came forward with complaints. Also, if the city had investigated this properly, and put a stop to it, perhaps they could have saved a great deal of money. By paying this amount of money, the city realized it had a losing case, the typical language about paying to end litigation but not acknowledging liability is laughable when you pay over half a million dollars.

"By resolving this matter and avoiding months of litigation and expense we can look forward to redirecting more energy and resources to the many challenges facing the city in these uncertain economic times," the city's press release said.
July 14, 2010

Adecco Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $62,500

Adecco settled a retaliation lawsuit that was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $62,500. According to published accounts, Adecco disciplined and fired Jeffrey A. Byard, a former office supervisor because he spoke out in support of his supervisor when she complained of sexual harassment by her boss. In sexual harassment and other discrimination cases, they people who are part of the investigation also have protections.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to retaliate against an employee because he testified, assisted, or participated in a proceeding protected that law. I see many cases where the company retaliates against people who are involved in an internal investigation and it ends up costing the company more to settle those cases than the original case. This company needs better internal processes in place with regard to conducting a proper investigation. I bet after paying this amount of money they will put better processes in place.

“Claims of retaliation are taken very seriously by the EEOC,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, EEOC Attorney. “Employers cannot take action against employees because of their participation in employment discrimination claims, either as a witness or because the employee gave a statement, as Mr. Byard did."
July 13, 2010

Transgender Woman Wins Discrimination Lawsuit

Vandy Glenn a transgender woman won a gender discrimination lawsuit against the Georgia General Assembly, after she was fired because she started to transition from male to female. Glenn, was hired as editor of the State Office of Legislative Counsel five years ago and a year after she was hired, she decided to change from a male to a female. She was terminated from her position after Sewell Brumby, the director of the office said he worried how other people would react. This could have been a retaliation lawsuit because she was fired in retaliation for not conforming to the illegal views of her supervisors.

I would like to congratulate Glenn on her victory and on hanging tough and protecting her rights. Getting fired while you continue to do a great job is unconscionable. It amazes me that some organizations still live in the stone age and can't quite get their brains around the idea that not all people are the same. This country was built on individuals rights and allowing people the freedom to live how they choose within the law. Vandy Glenn by all accounts was a great worker and deserved to be treated much better than this. I am glad she is getting her just rewards. The court will be holding a damages hearing later and I hope her bank account gets full.

Sewell Brumby said that "lawmakers would view her transition as immoral."


July 9, 2010

Billboard Company Pays $55,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Billboard company Trinity Products, Inc. pays $55,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female assistant. According to the published documents in the lawsuit a high-level manager sexually harassed the assistant with offensive language and gestures. Additionally the manager asked the assistant for sexual favors.

The female rejected the advances and because of that the manager tried to replace her. She also complained about the conduct of her manager and that resulted in her discharge. Such conduct is called retaliation. It is unlawful to fire someone because they are complaining about sexual harassment. This is a classic case of the company trying to sweep a person complaining under the rug. Hoepfully the company will spend some time training its' managers and other high ranking employees on discrimination law and give them a primer on sexual harassment.

“Federal law mandates a workplace free from sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting such misconduct,” said Barbara A. Seely, attorney of the EEOC.
July 6, 2010

Proving Your Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The only thing worst than being subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation for either reporting the sexual harassment or rejected the advances is to not be able to prove your case and therefore be left holding the bag. It is very important to have either a witness or a tangile piece of evidence that will support your allegation. I won't spend much time on the witness because if you have one, that person can speak to what happened. One thing I would say about witnesses in general are that sometimes they are reluctant to come forward because they fear for their job. The point is, sometimes you think you have witnesses but when it comes right down to it, you won't.

The next best evidence are the words from the harasser. The best way to get his words are if he leaves a voice message or is he sends you a text or email. Remember in Illinois you can't record someone without their permission. On the other hand if the person leaves a voice message, he is consenting by leaving the message so saving his message is legal and you can utilize this at trial. If your harasser sends you a text message save it and get in touch with an attorney early on so he can show you how to properly save the text message for use later on. Your case will first be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and 90% of all cases settle so there is a good chance you will never have a trial.

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July 4, 2010

Woman Receives $450,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The state of Oregon and former Public Safety Standards and Training director John Minnis pays $450,000 to a woman who had accused Minnis of sexual harassment. Minnis no longer works in his position as he was forced to quit after the allegations in the lawsuit became public. The woman who remains annonymous worked for Minnis and alleged that he sexually harassed her at the job and exploited her alcoholism in attempts to seduce her on business trips.

What was utilized to prove the sexual harassment was a timeline of events that was out of place along with the statement of the woman. In this case Minnis promoted the woman then gave her a raise that was out of the norm. Minnis and Doe attended a work-related conference in Bend and at that conference Minnis groped Doe in a hot tub and in his room, but she told him that she was not interested. Even though this would be her word against his, the other evidence provided a story of its own.

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July 1, 2010

McGriff Industries Pays $100,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

McGriff Industries, Inc. pays $100,000 to settle a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Todd Roseborough, Sr., Paul Hogan and Aaron Greenwood all African-American employees. According to details in the lawsuit employees and managers used racially derogatory comments, slurs, and insults directed at African-Americans employees. The racial misconduct escalated to threats and intimidation, including a derogatory threat to cut one of the black employees.

Both white and black employees were offended by the racial harassment but were retaliated against when they complained. In once instance an employee was terminated when he complained about the discrimination that was taking place. This type of behavior by a large company is outrageous. These individuals hung in there and fought for their rights and in the end they prevailed. Hopefully, the company will not wish to dole out this kind of money in the future and will better train employees on the proper work behavior.

“This case is important because no employee should be subject to racism in the workplace and every employee can be offended by a racially hostile work environment,” said EEOC Birmingham District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas.
June 29, 2010

Adecco Staffing Pays $12,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Adecco Staffing will pay $12,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a group of female workers. According to published accounts, a supervisor frequently made lewd and sexually offensive remarks to the female workers. He also allegedly rubbed himself against them, hugged them and slapped them on the buttocks.

The workers complained to Adecco officials but nothing was done to stop the sexual harassment. In fact, the company not only failed to intervene on their behalf but continued to assign female employees to work under the alleged harasser. Adecco then retaliated against one of the workers by firing her, while another was forced to quit because of the “ongoing and intolerable harassment. When a worker is forced to quit because of sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination it is known as a constructive discharge.

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June 28, 2010

College Settles Retaliation and Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $50,000

The Community College of Baltimore County pays $50,000 to settle an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Sheri Chosak. Chosak was a 60-year old employee who was trying to get hired as a part-time English as a Second Language (ESOL) academic advisor but claims she was denied the job because of her age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") prohibits employers from refusing to hire or promote individuals who are 40 or older because of age.

This type of case illustrates why employees have to work hard to protect their rights and if they believe they are the victim of discrimination, they must fight. It seems in this tough economy many employers are taking the attitude that they can do anything regarding employment decisions and not be held accountable. Good for this woman and her ability to stand her ground and fight for her rights.

“Employers who refuse to hire qualified applicants based on age not only forgo the opportunity to hire talented workers, they also risk having to defend themselves against an EEOC lawsuit,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence
June 23, 2010

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Supervisor Settled For $159,000

A former California Conservation Corps supervisor who was fired for reporting sexual harassment has been awarded $159,000 in a jury verdict. The case involved 66-year-old Margaret Grodzik. She worked at the Corps for three years and was fired after she reported sexual harassment and other misconduct including retaliation.

During trial Grodzik testified that the female corps members were subjected to rape, sexual harassment and retaliation by their male counterparts and that many of the women suffered injury. The jury obviously found her credible and awarded her some substantial money. It is always nice to see someone stand up and take on their employer. Jury trials have advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that a jury can put themselves in your shoes and feel your pain, whereas a Judge is more likely to become less emotional.

June 20, 2010

MRS Systems Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $130,000

MRA Systems Inc., a subsidiary of General Electric pays $130,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of 61 year old Louis Behrendt. According to the lawsuit MRA Systems gave Behrendt a lower performance rating, despite his successful job performance, because of his age. Additionally, the company failed to assign Behrendt to a position as a Production Control Leader 5 and instead awarded the position, which had greater salary potential, to a younger, less-qualified employee.

This type of behavior is against the law and usually can be proven with performance evaluations and other documents in personal files. In addition to not promoting him the company subjected him to unfair and heightened job scrutiny, gave him poor performance ratings and refused to promote him based on his age and in retaliation for his internal complaints about discrimination. Many times retaliation complaints are also filed with charges of discrimination.

"Age-based stereotypes about the abilities of older workers can result in older employees receiving lower performance ratings, lower compensation, and fewer promotional opportunities than younger co-workers," said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence

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June 14, 2010

Age Discrimination Lawsuit Settled For $250,000

TIN, Inc., settles age discrimination lawsuit for $250,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of three employees over the age of 40. According to details in the lawsuit, the company took employment actions in favor of younger workers and adverse to the three workers who were over 40. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA") protects people 40 years of age or older from employment discrimin­ation based on age and from retaliation for complaining about it.

This type of behavior against older workers is not tolerated and will result in a discrimination lawsuit. Most of the workforce is over 40-years of age and usually older workers make more money because they have more experience. Some business owners believe they can cut costs by firing the older workers and replacing them with younger, less expensive workers. Employers beware if this is your strategy.

“Workers over 40 often possess extensive job experience and skills, yet are still vulnerable to discrimination,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Employers must look beyond age when making life-changing decisions for employees such as hiring and firing.”
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.

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June 12, 2010

Oak Lawn Illinois Female Awarded $4.1 Million in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Kimberly Passananti was awarded a whoping $4.1 million by a federal jury in her sexual harassment lawsuit. She filed the lawsuit against Cook County alleging sexual harassment by her supervisor. According to details in the lawsuit, Passananti was sexually harassed by John Sullivan at the sheriffs department. Passananti alleged during the trial that she was terminated from her position as deputy director of the Day Reporting Center.

During trial she accused Sullivan of spreading false rumors among colleagues that Passananti engaged in sexual relations with an inmate she supervised, made repeated unwanted sexual advances and called her "bitch" on numerous occasions. Passananti was fired and the reason given for her termination was that her position had been eliminated. However, a male was hired to replace her and the reason given to her was just pretextural. It is often called retaliation when someone fires you for opposing sexual harassment.

"Sullivan intentionally subjected plaintiff to unequal and discriminatory treatment by creating a hostile and abusive work environment that altered the condition of plaintiff's employment," according to court papers.


June 11, 2010

Spencer Reed Group Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $125,000

Spencer Reed Group will pay $125,000 to settle a racial discrimination, age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a 55-year-old white employee. According to the lawsuit Spencer Reed violated federal law by discriminating against 55-year-old Caucasian employee because of her race and age and fired her as retaliation for her complaining about it. She was treated different than the younger African Americans.

The white woman worked as a senior functional analyst for Spencer Reed Group since 2003, was treated differently in many ways because of her age and race. She was subjected to adverse employment actions such as unduly harsh discipline, denied training, given the heaviest and most difficult workload and forced to provide work reports on a weekly instead of monthly basis.

One of the woman’s co-workers, a lead financial management analyst, said she felt that the treatment indicated “prejudice.” Finally the employee complained about the disparate treatment, but she was fired as retaliation the next day, the EEOC charged.

June 8, 2010

Metal Processing Plant Taken Through the Grinder--Pays $190,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Noble Metal Processing will pay $190,000 to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of non-white employees. According to details in the lawsuit, Noble repeatedly overlooked qualified non-white employees, including a group of black employees and a Bangladeshi employee, for promotions to the maintenance department.

Also included in the case was a white employee who opposed this type of racial discrimination and complained that managers in the maintenance department were using racial slurs was fired shortly after the company learned of his complaints. It is hard to imagion companies still behaving in this fashion given the amount of information that is available on discrimination. Once again the EEOC did a great job and held the company responsible. I see many discrimination cases based on non-white workers from countries in the far east.

“Noble should be commended for reaching a resolution despite its financial difficulties,” said Nedra Campbell, an EEOC attorney in the Commission’s Detroit office. Under the parties’ agreement, seven employees will share in the lump sum settlement amount of $190,000.
June 7, 2010

Harley Davidson Dealership Gives Hog a New Name and Pays $55,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

The Dudley Perkins Company, the country’s oldest Harley Davidson motorcycle dealership, will pay $55,000 to settle a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Bowen Dean a female employee. According to the lawsuit, Dean was not allowed to work as a mechanic, while hiring less qualified men for the same position.

In many different professions that are dominated by men, females have a hard time breaking into their ranks. This is a classic case of a qualified female not being able to work in a job solely because of her gender. It is nice to see her pursue her rights and hold the company accountable. The EEOC also did a great job making sure she was compensated.

“Breaking into jobs in non-traditional fields continues to be a challenge for women, and despite the prohibitions on sex discrimination written into federal law in 1964, some sex segregation in employment continues,” said EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo.
June 2, 2010

EEOC Settles Discrimination Lawsuit With Affordable Care For $150,000

Affordable Care coughs up $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment and racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two female employees. According to published documents Affordable Care violated federal law when its affiliated dentist, Nelson Wood, engaged in sexual harassment and racially harassed two female employees. The facts were that Wood created a sexually and racially hostile work environment for Ariede Mills, who is African American, and Laura Carl, who is white.

The lawsuit alleged Wood referred to women as “whining bitches,” propositioned Mills for sex, spanked Carl repeatedly on the buttocks, made insulting remarks about blacks, and claimed that he had a relative who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. It is outrageous the a professional would act in this manner. Both Mills and Carl complained repeatedly about Wood to Affordable Care but the company failed to stop the harassment. To add fuel to the fire Mills was fired in retaliation for her complaints, and Carl was forced to quit because of the offensive conduct. Quitting because of that type of behavior is referred to as constructive discharge.

EEOC Attorney Markus L. Penzel said “The EEOC is pleased that Affordable Care worked cooperatively with us to resolve this case with minimal litigation."
May 31, 2010

Dollins Construction Pays $15,000 To Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

According to the lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") the Dollins Construction company punished black workers for complaining about a noose display and racist statements. According to the lawsuit Dollins violated federal law by racially harassing three African American construction workers and then engaging in retaliation against them when one complained.

Apparently the racial discrimination included the use of racially charged comments and the display of a noose. After they complained about the racial harassment they were not sent out on any further jobs, which is retaliation. As part of the settlement they will receive $15,000. Not only does this type of behavior cost the company money but I am sure it will cost them business with people who do not want to hire a company that allows this type of activity to take place.

“No matter how small an employer may be or how limited its resources, the EEOC will use the full measure of the law to eradicate racist displays from any place of employment,” said EEOC District Director James R. Neely, Jr.
May 30, 2010

Orkin Pest Control Getting Rid Of More Than Pests: Sued By EEOC For Discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a religious discrimination lawsuit on behalf of a Thomas Kokezas claiming he was discriminated against because he wasn't a certain religion and because of his age. Additionally the EEOC said Orkin engaged in retaliation against an applicant who complained to the company’s corporate headquarters about the alleged discrimination.

The age discrimination lawsuit claims Orkin discriminated during the hiring process against Thomas Kokezas, as well as a class of individuals based on their age, over 40, or religion, non-Mormon. The lawsuit alleges Orkin advertised on Craig’s List for a recruiter to assist in hiring LDS missionaries for seasonal employ­ment and stating that the summer position was great for returned missionaries, who tend to be in their 20s. Under the law such advertising is illegal because it shows a preference for a particular religion, and also a preference for younger workers.

“Employers must be vigilant in providing equal employment opportunities for all applicants regardless of their age or religion,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.
May 27, 2010

Creative Networks Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $110,000

Creative Networks will pay $110,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Rhonda Encinas-Castro. The lawsuit claims two coordinators at the company were the victims of retaliation for complaining about national origin and racial discrimination and participating in an investigation about both.

Details in the lawsuit claim that Castro went to the EEOC to file a charge of discrimination based on national origin and race. However, the company fired Castro about 14 days later. Also the executive director threatened to fire Kathryn Allen, who had never been disciplined for anything before, because she had been named as a witness in Castro’s discrimination charge. This type of behavior by a company is not only wrong but illegal. The company could not honestly believe they would get away with this type of discriminatory behavior.

"We will continue to vigorously protect employees who complain about discrimination or serve as witnesses to it because they are the lifeblood to effective enforcement." said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O'Neill
May 26, 2010

Two Transporation Companies Settle EEOC Retaliation Lawsuit For $50,000

Amino Transport, Inc. and Chariot Express, Inc. will pay $50,000 to settle a retaliation, religious and pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Joshua Male. According to the lawsuit Male’s employer engaged in retaliation firing him because he had complained about workplace comments being made by two coworkers. The lawsuit also claims Male complained to the human resources ("HR") manager about persistent inappropriate jokes about Mormons, as well as workplace comments allegedly disparaging a pregnant female co-worker, women in general, and an African American.

The HR manager reported Male's complaints to the general manager of the facility, and Male was fired within less than 72 hours. This type of behavior is so obvious and it is amazing that companies still believe they can get away with treating people this way. It is nice to see people stand up for their rights and not let companies operate in this fashion.

“No one should lose his job for alerting human resources to inappropriate workplace behavior,” said EEOC attorney Jim Sacher.
May 18, 2010

University of New Hampshire Pays $220,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The University of New Hampshire pays $220,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Amy Kallianpur, a former professor. According to the lawsuit, Kallianpur alleged she was the victim of sexual harassment by her boss, department Chairman Chuck Gross. She accused Gross of making sexually offensive statements such as repeatedly telling her that he loved her and demanding that she tell him that she loved him. Gross also allegedly made demands that they share a hotel room. Kallianpur first filed her complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and then filed a lawsuit in federal court.

Kallianpur complained to management about the sexual harassment and management refused to intervene and stop it. After Kallianpur complained Gross and the school engaged in retaliation against her by not renewing her contract. Gross no longer works at the University as he retired prior to the settlement of the lawsuit. It is always nice to see people stand up when they are being discriminated against.

"He threatened her by telling her a story about a student who intended to complain against him, and how he preempted her complaint by giving her a failing mark so as to damage her credibility," the lawsuit said.
May 10, 2010

Car Dealer Pays $132,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Thomas Dodge paid $132,250 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of female employees who claimed offensive touching, degrading and sexually explicit comments and pornographic images. According to the lawsuit the females reported the sexual harassment and unprofessional conduct to management but no corrective action was taken. Some of the female employees who complained were terminated and others were forced to resign. Those would be examples of retaliation and constructive discharge.

It is amazing that so many women could come forward and complain and management would do nothing to stop the harassment. Management in this case even went a step further and punished the women for complaining.

May 8, 2010

Eagle Wings Industries Pays $428,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Eagle Wings Indusdries which is an automotive supplier pays $428,500 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of three female employees. One of the female employees Kimberly Bridgman alleged comments directed at her were lewd and included a request for oral sex in exchange for a transfer. This type of sexual harassment is referred to as quid quo pro and is latin for 'this for that". Another words, the requesting party was asking for something in return for something.

You can see how expensive the bad behavior of an employee can be. It is extremely important that employers take sexual harassment complaints seriously and train employees properly on what behavior is acceptable in the workplace. In this case Bridgman took disability leave because of the sexual harassment and when she returned to work the conduct continued forcing her to take leave again. This time when she tried to return to work, Eagle Wings refused to reinstate her unless she agreed to undergo a battery of psychological examinations. At this point she claimed to be constructively discharged and filed the lawsuit. Constructive discharge occurs when the employer sets forth conditions which if aren't met require the employee to stay off work.

May 7, 2010

Bon Appetit to pay $22,500 in Settlement of Charge of Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

A cashier and part-time cook at Bon Appetit alleged she was sexually harassed by her general manager Leslie Simmonds. She alleged the sexual harassment included being asked for sex, inappropriate comments and making her read a pornographic story he had written. The story was very detailed and very sexual. As a result of this behavior the female filed a sexual harassment complaint and settled her complaint for $22,500. The retaliation portion of her complaint arose after she rejected his sexual advances, and Simmonds retaliated by treating her poorly, and requested that she be transferred to his location.

She complained to Bon Appetit's district manager and provided a detailed account of the sexual harassment she had experienced. The district manager denied the harassment and stated that she had engaged in unacceptable behavior. Subsequently a raise she had been set to receive was revoked, and she was excluded from meetings. She resigned, believing that she had no choice and that her employer's treatment constituted a constructive discharge. It still amazes me that so many people in upper management take the approach of shooting the messenger instead of doing a proper investigation and resolving the problem. In this case Bon Appetit got off cheap.

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April 28, 2010

Union Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $80,000

The Maryland Classified Employees Association ("MCEA") union pays $80,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Gail Tate-Buntin. According to the lawsuit Buntin was involved in an EEOC investigation based on allegations of another employee, Michele Handy. Buntin claims she suffered retaliation because she was truthful during the investigation and the company did not like what she witnessed.

According to the lawsuit MCEA denied a promotion to Handy and subjected her to discriminatory terms and conditions of employment because she filed a discrimin­ation complaint with the EEOC. This is a classic case of an employee minding her own business and being brought into an investigation and then having something negative happen to her. Employers would be wise to look at this case and develope employment practices that don't violate the rights of its' employees.

“Title VII depends for its enforcement upon the cooperation of employees who are willing to oppose or report employment discrimination,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
April 25, 2010

Electric Contractor Pays $100,000 To Settle National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit

Cannon & Wendt Electric Co. will pay $100,000 to settle a national origin discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Victor Cortez who claims he was subjected to racist statements based on his national origin and that he was the victim of retaliation because the company terminated him after he complained about the unlawful discrimination.

According to details in the lawsuit Cortez's immediate supervisor Mark Ghose made very crude and illegal comments to him. The comments included “I hate all Mexicans,” “they are worthless,” and “I hate Mexican music.” Ghose made it clear that he wanted to fire Cortez. Cortez complained to upper management and to the owner Albert Wendt, however nothing was done to stop the harassment and he was fired. This company is a repeat offender as far as discriminating against employee and it is nice to see the EEOC keep after this company. Hopefully, people will read about what is taking place and not do business with this company.

"This is a particularly troubling case because the EEOC sued this particular employer for religious discrimination a few years ago. After being sued, most employers take their EEO obligations under the law seriously. It is troubling to the EEOC to see a repeat offender.” said Janet Elizondo, EEOC attorney.

April 22, 2010

Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Pays $30,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Golden State Mutual Life Insurance will pay $30,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of William Barringer after he was demoted in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. According to the lawsuit, an employee who Barringer managed was sexually harassed by his supervisor, and this supervisor also supervised Barringer. Barringer reported the sexual harassment to the vice president and also told his supervisor that he was reporting his behavior.

In this case the Barringer stuck his own neck out to protect one of his employees and he suffered retaliation. It is good to see a good boss who goes to bat for his worker. I am very glad the EEOC was able to help Mr. Barringer and he was able to make the company pay for their handling of this situation. Good job Mr. Barringer.

“Employees should be confident that they can make their employers aware of violations of federal anti-discrimination laws without fear of reprisal,” said Lynette A. Barnes attorney of EEOC. “The anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII are indispensable to the attainment of a workplace free of discrimination.”
April 20, 2010

University Pays $450,000 To Settle Age Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

The University of Louisiana ("ULM"), will pay $450,000 to settle an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of former professor and dean of the College of Business Administration, Dr. Van McGraw. According to the lawsuit McGraw alleges the university rejected him for employ­ment repeatedly because of his age, and because he had filed an earlier age discrimination lawsuit against the university.

The lawsuit alleges the University violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). McGraw had previously worked for the university for 37 years and retired in1989 as dean of the College of Business Administration. After retiring he was imme­diately rehired as a professor in the Department of Manage­ment and Marketing. ULM terminated McGraw in 1996 under a then-new board policy regarding the reemployment of retirees.


April 18, 2010

EEOC's Top Categories Of Filed Charges Released

The most frequently filed charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in 2009 were racial discrimination (36 percent), retaliation (36 percent) and gender discrimin­ation (30 percent). The reason why the numbers add up to over 100 is that charges of discrimination can have multiple categories selected. For example someone may file a charge claiming racial discrimination, gender discrimination and retaliation. In fact it is more common to have multiple charges than just a single charge of discrimination.

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 6, 2010

Female Police Recruit Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $170,000

Nicole Whitley agreed to settle her sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation lawsui against the city for $170,000. According to the lawsuit Whitley was fired in retaliation for filing a sexual harassment and gender discrimination complaint while she was a police cadet at the state police academy. The problem for Whitley started when she was called into a room by a lieutenant and told that her nipples showed through her uniform during training and she was asked whether she was wearing a sports bra. The lieutenant went on to tell her to wear extra lawyers of clothing and a coat during future training.

Whitley complained to superiors about the conversation and need to wear extra clothing and felt that she was being singled out. Whitley injured herself and was placed on light duty. She was fired a few months later citing her probationary performance review as the reason. In that review she was cited for missing classes and failure to turn in a report. She believes this was a pretext for firing her because she complained about the comments. After being fired Whitley finished college and received a degree in criminal justice but has been unable to find employment.

This case shows the long term damage that can occur if you complain about discrimination. It is important to follow through and not let a termination of employment go unchallenged. In this case, she is getting a good settlement and this should help her find future employment.


April 2, 2010

Chicago Based RJB Properties Sued For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

RJB Properties, Inc. and Blackstone Consulting, Inc., have been sued for sexual harassment, retaliation and national origin. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Latino employees. According to the lawsuit, 14 employees who worked as janitors and supervisors were fired because of their national origin, sexual harassment and retaliation. The Hispanic employees also had to listen to derogatory names and comments while they were working.

Additional details of the lawsuit include one Hispanic supervisor who was fired because he would not follow his superiors orders to fire another Hispanic employee for no reason. An employee does not have to follow discriminatory orders from management. It was nice to see this supervisor stand up to management and not follow their allegedly illegal orders. The EEOC also alleges Hispanic male employees were subjected to sexual harassment and when they would not go along with the request for sex, were subjected to retaliation by being fired.

“Employers cannot apply one set of rules to Hispanic workers and another set of rules to non-Hispanic workers, which is what we found occurred here. said EEOC attorney Ann Henry

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April 1, 2010

Kane County Illinois Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $75,000

Kane County Illinois will pay $75,000 to Erma Rodriquez who is a former corrections officer to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit. Rodriquez claims she was subjected to sexually suggestive remarks over the course of two years and she reported the harassment to her superiors. She also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and claims to have been the victim of retaliation for making the report. According to the lawsuit Rodriguez received a verbal reprimand after filing her claim with the EEOC.

The final straw for Rodriquez was when she found a phallic-shaped piece of insulation foam that had graphic markings on it. The item was left on her desk and caused her emotional distress. The lawsuit claims the day she found the item and reported it, she became the subject of an internal investigation which she claims was done in retaliation for making the report. It is typical in sexual harassment lawsuits to see the defendant make life difficult for plaintiffs once they come forward and file complaints. This is typical behavior and I am glad to see the defendants pay for what they did wrong.


March 31, 2010

Chicago Bakery Pays $350,000 To Settle National Origin and Retaliation Lawsuit

Chicago bakery Gonnella Baking Co. agreed to pay $350,000 to settle a retaliation and national origin harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of seven Mexican employees. According to allegations in the lawsuit Gonnella did nothing to stop the harassment of the employees. This type of behavior is not acceptable and illegal in Illinois.

The employees allege that their manager made hostile comments about them because they were Mexican. Once employees complained to management about the comments they were subjected to shifts that lasted over 12 hours and in some cases 19 hours. They were also told to not complain further about the discrimination or else face the consequences. This type of behavior is considered retaliation. In Chicago there are many companies that treat employees like this and hopefully more employees will come forward to assert their rights.

“The derogatory language and other harassment directed at the employees in this case are entirely inappropriate in the workplace,” said John Hendrickson, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago.


March 28, 2010

Baptist Church Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit For $53,000

Greenforest Community Baptist Church agrees to pay $53,000 to settle two pregnancy discrimination lawsuits. The lawsuits were filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Victoria Brown and Shuntal Prince. According to details in the lawsuit Greenforest violated federal law when it fired Prince and rescinded a job offer to Brown after learning they were pregnant. They company not only engaged in pregnancy discrimination but also retaliation.

In the case of Brown she already received an employment offer when she went for a follow-up meeting with the headmaster to discuss some final pre-employment matters before she was to begin her new job. During this meeting, Brown informed the headmaster that she was pregnant and the headmaster told her she would not be able to teach there because of her pregnancy. This is a clear violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In the second case Prince was called into a meeting with the school’s director to discuss some concerns she had about Prince’s health. Although the context of the meeting seemed routine it was really a pretext for discussing Princes pregnancy. During the meeting, the director told Prince she heard rumors that Prince was pregnant. Prince confirmed that she was pregnant and the director fired her.

“Pregnant women have an equal right to participate in the work force,” said Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.

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March 26, 2010

Kmart Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $120,000

Kmart Corporation pays $120,000 to settle an age discrimination, constructive discharge and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a 70-year-old pharmacist. According to details in the lawsuit, Kmart thought the pharmacist was too old and should retire. Kmart also said the pharmacist was greedy for wishing to work once she reached 70 years of age.

Kmart scheduled the pharmacist to work on Sunday even though they were aware she attended church and would not be able to work that day. This is a prime example of how coompanies try to set workers up for failure by asking them to do something they know they can't do in an attempt to come up with a reason to fire the worker. Kmart also threatened legal action against the pharmacist using a pretext on an unrelated matter to retaliate against her for her discrimination complaint. The pharmacist was forced to quit her position because of the harassment and this is referred to as constructive discharge.

“Instead of addressing this pharmacist’s legitimate complaints of age discrimination, Kmart made a bad situation worse by threatening her for complaining,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru.

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March 25, 2010

Worker Fired For Not Wearing Red Shirt Gets $21,500

Alliance Rental Center will pay $21,500 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a former worker, Tyler Templeton who was fired because he would not wear a red shirt on Friday to show his support for the military. According to the lawsuit Templeton who is a Jehovah's Witness, said it was against his religious beliefs and his observance of neutrality on issues of war to go along with wearing the red shirt.

Templeton informed his supervisors about his religious beliefs and his observance of neutrality on issues of war, including military efforts, but was reprimanded for not complying with the Friday dress code. It would not have taken much for the company to respect the religious beliefs of Templeton and tell him it was okay not to wear the red shirt. The company is in business to make money not to tell people what they should support. Templeton was fired shortly after he refused to wear the red shirt. Firing him is regarded as retaliation.

“This is a positive outcome for all parties involved, and it is our hope that the company will be successful going forward as a result of the changes called for in this settlement agreement,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Meaghan Shepard.


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.
March 14, 2010

PriceRite Sued For Sexual Harassment

Four former workers of supermarket giant PriceRite filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming they were the victims of sexual harassment. Details of the lawsuit indicate that the store manager was allegedly the one sexually harassing the women. the women include Charlene DeAngelo, Patricia Frasca, Kai Fasset and Rebecca Eastman. They not only allege they were the victims of sexual harassment but also other female customers.
According to allegations in the lawsuit the four women claim Potter attempted to have sexual intercourse with them. He also made nasty comments to them and would often times stare at the breasts and buttocks of female customers.

All of the women complainted to PriceRite's human resources manager but nothing was done to stop the sexual harassment. The women all claims they were subjected to retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment. In an interesting claim, Potter is alleged to have used surveillance cameras to focus on women who were shopping in the store. After we would spot a woman he liked he would brag about what he intended to do with the women.

“One customer found a note on her car, soliciting her to engage in some sort of conduct,” the lawsuit claims.
March 13, 2010

National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit Against Rend Lake College Dismissed

A lawsuit against Rend Lake College was dismissed by a federal judge because the plaintiff Salah Shakir was not able to provide evidence of unlawful activity by the Illinois community college. Shakir claimed discrimination based on national origin by an administrator who retaliated against Shakir because of his Muslim religion and Iraqi roots. The allegation included trying to ensure he would not be able to head the school.

In order to prevail in a lawsuit alleging nation origin discrimination, one would have to prove that but for the fact of the country of origin, the person would have either gotten a promotion, not been fired, or received a raise. If there are other non-discriminatory reasons why the negative job action or lack of positive job action took place, then the plaintiff will not be able to prove the case and it will most likely be dismissed.

“The board constantly strives to ensure that Rend Lake College is welcome to both employees and students of all backgrounds and cultures,” said the school’s attorney, Julie Bruch.

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March 11, 2010

PriceRite Supermarket Sued For Sexual Harassment

Four former employees of PriceRite supermarket filed a sexual harassment lawsuit alleging store manager David Potter sexually harassed them. Among the allegations in the lawsuit are claims Potter would show his penis, rub and manipulate his groin and grab his penis asking if the women wanted to touch it. If these allegations can be proven, the company will have some serious liability.

Charlene DeAngelo, Patricia Frasca, and Rebecca Eastman, claim they were fired soon after complaining to Potter's superiors. This is considered retaliation because they were allegedly fired after complainint about a protected activity. The fourth woman, Kai Fasset, quit the day after making an off-duty visit to the store with her boyfriend. The details of the alleged encounter are bizarre. Apparently Potter greeted the couple when they entered to shop and said to the boyfriend, that he should be congratulated for having sexual intercourse with Fasset. This should be an interesting case and this blog will keep readers posted on the outcome.

"Potter would routinely declare that he was interested in a quick sexual relationship with her (DeAngelo) and/or other employees," the suit states.
March 9, 2010

Woman Has Threesome With Boss and Sues For Sexual Harassment

Cathy Monaghan is suing the El Dorado County Water Agency alleging her boss sexually harassed her, and that the affair eventually spiraled into threesomes with her husband. This is a very unique sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, William T. Hetland, her boss demanded sexual favors from Monaghan and if she refused she would be fired. Monaghan claims that Hetland that she gave in to the request for sex in part because he would get her drunk. At some point she began feeling guilty about the affair and told her husband, at which point the three of them participated in 'threesomes.

According to the lawsuit, after engaging in four separate threesomes, Monaghan and her husband agreed that she should end the affair but Hetland pressured her to keep having sex. At one point Monaghan told management about the demands for sex and she claims the company engaged in retaliation by firing her rather than address the problem. The stress of all of this made Monaghan continue to drink more and more and eventually led to problems with the law. She was arrested for a DUI and eventually fired from her job. The details of this case are pretty shocking and unique.

"Plaintiff was terminated in retaliation for opposing Hetland's sexual harassment and refusing to participate in sexual encounters. Plaintiff's termination constitutes an adverse employment action," the lawsuit states.
March 3, 2010

Steakhouse Worker Has Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Reinstated

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ("Seventh Circuit") has breathed some life into Paul Turner. Turner worked as a waiter for The Saloon, Ltd. ("The Saloon"), a Chicago steak-house. While working as a waiter her claims to have been the victim of several forms of employment discrimination including sexual harassment, retaliation, and violation of the Americans with Disabilites Act ("ADA"). According to the lawsuit Turner had a sexual relationship with his supervisor and claims that he ended it and she began to sexually harass him. Turner complained to restaurant management about the sexual harassment and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

After getting a right to sue letter from the EEOC Turner filed a multi-count employment discrimination lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois and a Judge in that court dismissed the complaint during a summary judgment hearing. Turner appealed and the Seventh Circuit upheld the district court Judge except on the sexual harassment count. In short, the sexual harassment case will continue.

The details of the sexual harassment claims include, once a customer spilled champagne on Turner's pants, and when he went to the bar area to find towels to dry himself off, Lake, his supervisor and former lover followed him there. She put her hands inside his pockets, grabbed his penis, and said, "You sure are soaked." In another instance Lake pressed her chest against him and asked, "Don't you miss me?" Lake approached Turner from behind and grabbed his buttocks. Lastly Lake saw Turner with his clothes off while he was changing into his work uniform and told him that she missed seeing him naked.

March 1, 2010

BBQ Owner Agrees To Pay $449,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

CEO Gregory Moore of Smithfield's Chicken 'n Bar-B-Q chain agreed to pay $449,200 plus $375,780 in attorney fees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. This may seem like large amount of money but Moore was ordered to pay $1.15 million to Jason Hallaman after a two-week jury trial. As is common in trials, many times the parties will agree to settle for a lessor amount in return for not appealing the decision. If the decision is appealed, it could take years for the person to get their money and there is always a chance the jury decision will be overturned or the award amount lowered.

According to court testimony in the case the trouble for Moore began when he fired his personal assistant Hallaman. Hallaman claims he was fired for rebuffing sexual advances. This would constitute retaliation. Several former Smithfield's employees testified that they also rejected Moore's sexual advances and were fired. Moore acknowledged at trail that he is bisexual. Moore also insisted that he fired Hallaman for poor job performance and because Hallaman forged a check. The jury didn't buy these claims.

February 27, 2010

Janitor Sues School For Sexual Harassment

Penny Jackson the former Bauxite school janitor filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against her former employer. In the lawsuit Jackson claims that for a period of seven months she was subjected to repeated sexual harassment from the maintenance supervisor Sammy Roberson. According to court documents Jackson was subjected to propositions for sex and sexually explicit comments. Jackson alleges she complained about the sexual harassment and was then the subject of retaliation. Prior to filing her lawsuit Jackson filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") who investigated and issued a right to sue letter.

The school has a different story regarding Jacksons claims. The school claims Jackson was a poor worker and that many other employees refused to work with her. They claim they did not renew her contract because of her work performance not because they were retaliating against her. Both sides claim they have witnesses that will prove their respective cases. It should be an interesting trial if it ever gets to that point. Many cases settle and I am sure this one will settle at some point. The school should think about how much money they will spend in legal fees. On a positive note for the school district, the EEOC did not file the charge themselves and only issued a right to sue letter which it must do in all cases if it does not complete a full investigation or file the federal lawsuit itself.

“As a direct result of Jackson’s complaining to her superiors and officers of the defendent, she was disciplined and her employment contract was not renewed,”

February 26, 2010

College of the Mainland Sued For Sexual Harassment

Sandra Brewer filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against her former employer the College of the Mainland. According to the lawsuit Brewer was terminated from the college because she complained about sexual harassment which would constitute her retaliation claim. The issues for Brewer started back in 2006 when she alleges that for a period of two years Al Bass her boss and a college associate vice presidnet began to sexually harass her.

According to allegations in the lawsuit on a daily bases Bass would persistently make sexual advances and remarks toward Brewer. Although Brewer claims most the the time Bass would make sure the two of them were alone before he began his sexual advances, Brewer also claims a few times there were witnesses present. Brewer claims she told Bass many times to stop his bevahior but he refused.

"The reason for the termination was pretextual and simply a ruse designed to hide the illegal conduct," according to the lawsuit.

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February 25, 2010

United Companies Pays $498,000 To Settle Gender Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

United Companies will pay $498,000 to settle a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female worker who court documents did not name. According to details in the lawsuit the woman has been working for the company since 1998 and held a variety of jobs before the company assigned her to work as a quality control technician. According to documents in the lawsuit once in that position the gender discrimination against her became overt and interfered with her ability to work.

In a big help for the female worker several male co-workers saw and overheard the gender discrimination and degrading treatment and backed her up when she complained to management. The female did complain about the gender discrimination to management and the men did back her up. Even the men thought they would be the subject of retaliation for supporting the female worker in her harassment claim. The company ended up terminated the female and two of her male supported but not before the department manager called the men troublemakers and told them they better shut up.

“Employers have a responsibility to maintain an environment free of sex discrimination and retaliation,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Here, the managers themselves committed both those offenses.

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February 24, 2010

Chief Financial Officer Gail Busbey Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $93,000

Decatur Chief Financial Officer Gail Busbey filed a sexual harassment against the city alleging Mayor Don Stanford made inappropriate comments and unwanted physical contact with her. Busbey is also alleging retaliation because she alleges Stanford attempted to terminate her employment after she filed a complaint about Stanford with the director of personnel Ken Smith.

Busbey settled the sexual harassment lawsuit for $93,000 and agreed to retire as part of the settlement. However, a member of the city council made statements about Busbey and now she is suing seeking over one million in damages for false light and breach of the agreement. In sexual harassment cases there is usually a confidentiality clause and also a clause about not speaking negatively about either party. You can see the problems that occur when one party talks about the other party.

“You hear rumors, but I feel like if it was something that was relevant that I needed to know about, someone would have presented it to me,” Hammon said.


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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 22, 2010

United States Post Offices Has Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Dismissed

The following federal case, 3:07-CV-410-H, illustrates how difficult it can be to prevail in a case of sexual harassment or constructive discharge. Shironda McCloud filed a claim against the United States Postal Service ("USPS") alleging sexual harassment and constructive discharge. Constructive discharge occurs when an employee quits their job but claims they had to quit because the working conditions were so unbearable that a reasonable person would not continue to work in those conditions. Constructive discharge differs from retaliation in that, the employee quits in a constructive discharge case whereas an employee is fired in a retaliation case--or the employee may be the subject of some other negative job action.

The allegations in the complaint were that McCloud began working for the USPS and her immediate supervior, Mr. Purifoy did the following over the course of two days: stared at Plaintiff; made comments that Plaintiff was beautiful; danced around Plaintiff in an awkward manner; told Plaintiff, "I'll give you Friday off if you go out to the club with me;" gave Plaintiff Thursday and Friday off and grabbed Plaintiff's wrist when she reached for her time card. The complaint was based on those six incidents over a two day period.

McCloud told management about what happened, they investigated and removed Purifoy from managing her. Over the next two months McCloud claims to have seen Purifoy at work a few times but that he never spoke to her and that he had no work control over her--yet she quit her job claiming she could not even look at him without feeling wierd. The court found that this did not rise to the level of constructive discharge.

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February 20, 2010

UPS Settles EEOC Lawsuit For $46,000

UPS Freight agreed to pay $46,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a Rastafarian. This is a very unique set of circumstances because the religion is one not considered mainstream. According to the lawsuit UPS refused to accommodate the Rastafarian religious beliefs of Nieland Bynoe. As long as the religious beliefs are sincere and a reasonable accomodation is available, the company must make the accomodation or risk liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. An example of a reasonable accomodation is if a religion does not allow its members to work on a certain day, say Sunday and giving Sunday off to an employee did not create a hardship for the employer, the employer must give the worker Sunday off.

In this case instead of making the reasonable accomondation UPS fired him. During new hire orientation as a driver for UPS management told Bynoe he had to shave his beard and cut his hair in accordance with the company’s grooming policy. Bynoe replied that his religious beliefs prohibit him from cutting his hair or shaving his beard. Bynoe again advised the human resources manager about his religious beliefs and asked for a reasonable accommodation on the following day but UPS fired him. This is also a form of retaliation because Bynoe asked not to be discriminated against and he was fired.

“Our freedom to practice our religious beliefs is a fundamental right in this country,” said Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC
February 11, 2010

Peter's Diner Pays $27, 500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Peter's Diner and its owner Angelo Giannkaris will pay a total of $27,500 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit with waitress Lynnann Zuest. It is alleged that Giannkaris sexually harassed Zuest and later fired her in retaliation for reporting it. According to the complaint Zuest was fired after approaching a fellow waitress and reporting that Giannkaris had inappropriately touched her by placing his hands on her hips.

Giannkaris disputed that he fired Zuest for reporting sexual harassment and instead said she was terminated for poor job performance. Giannkaris said Zuest dropped many trays and plates in support of his reason for her dismissal. However during further investigation there was evidence to support Zuest’s allegations and undermine the reasons Giannkaris gave for the firing. Also Peter’s had no policy in place regarding sexual harassment or the filing of workplace harassment complaints. Companies must have sexual harassment and discrimination policies in place so workers no where to go when they encounter workplace discrimination and harassment.

February 9, 2010

Male Hotel Worker Settles Gender Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

Richard Knight a male hotel worker for the Columbia Sussex Corporation, settled his gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed on his behalf by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit, Knight who was a manager claimed that Columbia Sussex fired him from its Sheraton Hotel because he was a male, and because he complained that a female co-worker was not disciplined for the same purported infraction--which is retaliation.

Details in the lawsuit claim the companies general manager demanded that Knight go into his office without the presence of a human resource representative, but did not force Knight’s female co-worker to proceed without a representative-when they both had the same infractions. When Knight asked the general manager whether he was granting privileges to the female manager that he would not grant to Knight, the general manager replied that he could do whatever he wanted and then he immediately terminated Knight. For the exact same infraction the female manager was not disciplined. As part of the settlement Knight will be returned to his position and receive back pay.

Knight commented on the settlement, “I am very grateful that the EEOC brought this case on my behalf. I love the hotel industry. My main goal was always to get my job back. I am excited to get back to work with Columbia Sussex in my chosen field.”

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February 4, 2010

Retaliation and Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Settled For $25,000

Anthony Kerr, a Muslim settled his retaliation and religious discrimination lawsuit against New Community Corporation for $25,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Kerr. According to detail of the lawsuit, New Community Corporation would not grant Kerr a reasonable accommodation when he requested that he be excused from a requirement that employees donate money to a Catholic school. His employer requested the donations because they are part of a Catholic parish. However Kerr's religious beliefs as a Muslim are different than the school’s religious mission which is based on the Catholic religion.

Based on court documents after Kerr refused to give a donation and complained that the demand for a donation conflicted with his religious beliefs, New Community Corporation removed him from its work schedule, which is retaliation. Retaliation occurs when you complain of discriminatory conduct and you receive negative treatment as a result of the complaint. Kerr ultimately filed a complaint with the EEOC and the corporation retaliated against him when he did file with the EEOC by firing him and then filing an improper complaint about him with his full-time employer alleging that he had engaged in misconduct at New Community Corporation.

“The EEOC will vigorously enforce the law to end such discriminatory practices. An employer, even one that engages in charitable work, cannot subject an employee to religious discrimination or retaliation.” said EEOC Attorney Louis Graziano


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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 2, 2010

Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit Settled For $79,800

Margaret Gibson settled her pregnancy discrimination lawsuit with U.S. Security Associates for $79,880. The lawsuit was filed on Gibson's behalf by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), which is charged with protecting the rights of employee who are the victims of discrimination in the workplace. According to court documents U.S. Security Associates subjected Gibson who was a security guard to pregnancy discrimination and then fired her in retaliation for complaining about the discrimination. In a remarkable series of events, U.S. Security Associates also fired her husband as part of the retaliation.

Details of the discrimination and civil rights violations were that Gibson was subjected to unwarranted discipline, sexist comments and mistreatment after she told her manager about the pregnancy. Allegedly, Gibson’s manager said a pregnant woman should be at home, not at work, and that Gibson’s focus should be on her children. These types of comments are from the dark ages and have place in the modern work place. In another shocking comment the manager also complained about Gibson’s pregnant appearance in the guard uniform.

Most cases of retaliation are proved with circumstantial evidence. In this case Gibson’s was fired the same day she turned in her paperwork for maternity leave. That is awful coincidental to be a coincidence. According to court documents U.S. Security Associates terminated her husband when he failed to stop his wife from filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC.

“The EEOC is dedicated to ensuring that employers treat all employees equally, regardless of gender, pregnancy status or association,” said Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office.
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 30, 2010

Hotel Magnate Kenneth Seaton Sued For Sexual Harassment

Hotel magnate Kenneth Seaton is being sued for sexual harassment by two employees who seek millions of dollars in compensation. In a related bit of news, Seaton faces criminal charges over the alleged sexual battery of five women last fall at his business. The lawsuit was filed by two housekeepers, Samantha Fiedorowicz and Candice Michelle. According to allegations in the lawsuit, both women were required to attend an afternoon meeting in which Seaton was intoxicated and tried to kiss and grope the women including touching their buttocks and breasts.

The lawsuit also alleges unwelcome sexually offensive remarks and conduct, including lewd and inappropriate comments, requests for sex and fondling. Both women claim retaliation as they were terminated when they refused and resisted Seatons sexual harassment and offers for sex. The lawsuit seeks over $ 2 million in damages. Many times sexual harassment claims also involve claims of retaliation as the harassor will discipline or fire the employees for not cooperating with the request for sex.

"You would be surprised what Viagra can do for an old man," the lawsuit, filed in Sevier County Circuit Court, quotes Seaton as telling the two plaintiffs in the action. "If you cooperate," the quote goes on, "you won't need a husband."



January 29, 2010

Eagle Wings Industries Pays $428,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Eagle Wings Industries, Inc. pays $428,500 to a class of female employees to settle their sexual harassment and Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the female workers. According to the lawsuit the female employees were subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about the sexual harassment. One female was also discriminated against by the company when it required her to undergo an unlawful medical examination, a clear violation of the ADA.

I see more cases like this in Illinois and this type of behavior still seems to be taking place in the workplace. It is very important for females to come forward when they encounter this type of sexual harassment and discrimination and contact an attorney. Many companies would rather sweep the issue under the rug once an employee comes forward and engage in retaliation rather than take the sexual harassment complaint seriously. As you can see from this case, it is a costly mistake for the company.

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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 20, 2010

Vicky Crawford Awarded $1.5 Million in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Former Metro Schools Payroll Coordinator Vicky Crawford was awarded about $1.5 million on her claims she was wrongfully terminated when she cooperated in a sexual harassment investigation of a school official. This is also known as retaliation. Crawford, who had over 30 years service with the school disctrict claimed she was fired because she cooperated in the investigation. Her lawsuit was initially dismissed by a federal judge and upheld on appeal. Last January, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Crawford v. Metro Schools, that Crawford could sue claiming retaliation even though she was not the one who brought the original sexual harassment claims. This was a landmark case and should help employees who have been fired for cooperating with sexual harassment investigations.

The problems for Crawford began when there was an investigation into sexual harassment claims against Employee Relations Director Gene Hughes. Crawford told investigators Hughes would ask to see her breasts, grab his crotch saying, "You know what's up," and on one occasion pulled her head to his crotch. Human resources officer Veronica Frazier assured Crawford she would be protected from retaliation if she came forward and helped with the investigation. In the end no action was taken against Hughes however on the same day Frazier turned in her report on the allegations, she also sent a letter to Metro Nashville's internal audit department informing them of concerns with the operation of Crawford's payroll department. Crawford was then fired.

"It's been a long, long fight. It's been very hard all these years, and we're very happy with the verdict," said Ann Steiner, Crawford's attorney.
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 11, 2010

EMS Workers Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $142,000

Three Hispanic Emergency Medical Services ("EMS") females settle their sexual harassment lawsuit with West New York for $142,000. In a typical move, the town denies any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. In the present economic environment $142,000 is a good deal of money and I think the settlement speaks volumes about what really happened. Documents filed in court claim the five women allege their supervisor, Edward Monti, the former director of the ambulance service, sexually harassed them. They claim the sexual harassment consisted of sexual gestures, words, conduct, and behavior.

The females also claim they reported the conduct of Monti and the town took no action. Instead of an investigation and the sexual harassment to cease, the women claim Monti reduced their work hours in retaliation for complaining about his behavior. Monti is no longer in the position he once held and is instead the town's director of school crossing guards. So lets recap. The town pays $142,000 claiming it would cost more money to continue the litigation, while denying any liability and moving Monti to a new position where he supervises school crossing guards. Sounds like the town realized it had a problem and is quickly trying to end the problem.

"It ultimately comes down to dollars," said town attorney Daniel Horgan, who said by the time the case were to have made it to discovery, the town would have spent more than the cost to settle."

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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 5, 2010

Chevrolet Car Dealer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With EEOC For $110,000

Bill Heard Chevrolet Corp. will pay $110,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. According to court documents the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleged management and workers made crude remarks about women's bodies, grabbed at one female employees breasts, persistently solicited females for sexual favors and sexually assaulted at least one female employee. When the women cmplained to management in an effort to stop the sexual harassment, the females were either demoted, disciplined or fired--all forms of retaliation.

The lawsuit also alleges that management told some female employees that women should not be in the auto business. This type of behavior is not acceptable and the females stood up for themselves and made management pay. It is very important to document behavior like this and to contact an employment attorney who can file a complaint on your behalf with either the EEOC or in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will cross-file with the EEOC but by law only one agency will take the lead in investigating the complaint.

“The women in this case sought to earn a living selling cars and rightfully expected to do so while being treated with dignity and respect,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC.”

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January 2, 2010

EEOC Settles Retaliation Lawsuit With Rock Concrete Construction For $31,000

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") settled a retaliation lawsuit with Rock Concrete Construc­tion Corporation for $31,000. In addition Rock Concrete Construction will also provide workers with discrimination training and allow employees access to a company hotline for reporting work place discrimination. The basis of the lawsuit was the company stopped providing work to Eric Bufkin who filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.

Details of the lawsuit include Eric Bufkin’s filing a charge of discrimination against a company that Rock Concrete Construction did a good deal of work with. When Rock Concrete Construction found out, they asked Bufkin to drop his charge and told him that if he did not it would impact him in a negative way. Bufkin refused to drop the charge of discrimination he filed with the EEOC and Rock Concrete stopping providing work for him. What Rock Concrete Construction engage in was retaliation. Retaliation occurs when a company threatens you with a negative job action if you file a charge of discrimination or if you won't submit to their demands and drop a charge of discrimination.

“Employers are simply not entitled to punish employees for complaining about discrim­ination,” said Laurie A. Young, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Indianapolis District Office.

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December 15, 2009

City Pays $230,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Case

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

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

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


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December 14, 2009

Car Dealer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $500,000

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

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

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

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December 8, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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December 4, 2009

Nurse Suing Hospital For $1 Million In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

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

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

December 3, 2009

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

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

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

December 1, 2009

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

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

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

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


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.

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November 28, 2009

Employee Raped and Awarded $3 Million to Settle Lawsuit

Tracy Barker claimed she was raped in 2005 while working in Iraq for KBR inc. a former Halliburton Co. subsidiary. Barker claimed a former state department employee worked for KBR in Basra and sexual assaulted her, resulting in her rape. Barker was housed in mostly male barracks and consistently subjected to physical threats of sexual abuse and sexually explicit comments. Barker made a claim of sexual harassment against KBR inc. and the rapist personally.

Barker alleged other employees along with her complained to the companies but they did nothing and instead engaged in retaliation. She was awarded nearly $3 million by an arbitrator to settle her case. A federal judge in Houston had dismissed Barker's lawsuit in January 2008, because when she signed her employment contract she agreed that any dispute would be settled by arbitration. Looks like even with arbitration the company wasn't able to weasel their way out of paying a fair amount and giving Barker the justice she deserves.

"It took me a long time to get here. I'm happy about the award," Barker, 38, who lives in Yuma, Arizona.


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 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 12, 2009

Movie Theatre Pays $175,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A national movie theater chain, Regal Entertainment Group agreed to pay $175,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a male worker who was being sexually harassed by a female co-worker. According to the lawsuit the company subjected a male employee to sexual harassment by a female co-worker and then retaliated against him for complaining about the unlawful conduct – along with two supervisors who tried to help.

According to the lawsuit a female co-worker who repeatedly grabbed his crotch. The male reported this conduct to his direct supervisor who complained to the theater’s then-general manager, but she failed to take adequate steps to stop or prevent the harassment. Instead, the general manager engaged in retaliation against the harassed employee and two other supervisory employees (male and female), who are part of the EEOC’s lawsuit. In Illinois retaliation includesd discipline, lower performance evaluations or other adverse job actions that are not warrented.

November 9, 2009

Female Construction Worker Gets $150,000 For Being Forced To Wear Diapers

Lisa Drozdowski claimed that she had to wear adult diapers at her job at Danella Construction Corp. because it would not provide portable toilets and recently she was awarded $150,000 in a gender-discrimination lawsuit brought on her behalf by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The men at the construction sites would just go to the bathroom in holes but Drozdowski had to walk a great distance to use a restroom. When Drozdowski complainted to management she suffered retaliation when the company stopped giving her work.

Four other female employees of Danella Construction Corp., also claimed that they were discriminated against because of gender, split an additional $50,000. According to the complaint other female flaggers who were present would shield each other from passing cars and co-workers with blankets while they went to the bathroom on the side of the road. The additional problem facing Drozdowski was that she was the only woman on a job and could not go to the bathroom and ended up urinating on herself. Rather than continue to urinate on herself she started to wear adult diapers to work each day.

"It was humiliating, but I needed the job." said Drozdowsky.

Drozdowsky is a single mother with three children.


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November 8, 2009

Nissan Car Dealership Pays $455,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Tim Dahle Nissan settled a lawsuit for sexual harassment and retaliation by paying $455,000 and other substantial remedial relief. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC)" on behalf of five female employees who allegedly were subjected to unwelcome sexual comments and conduct. According to the lawsuit some of the conduct included many requests for sexual favors and sexually explicit language. According to the women many of the salesmen and sales managers took part in the sexual harassment over a period of several years.

An additional charge in the complaint was that Tim Dahle Nissan engaged in retaliation against one woman by firing her because she complained about the sexual harassment. In Illinois as in other states it is a violation of state law and federal law to fire an employee or take other adverse employment action if the employee complains about sexual harassment. Many times an employer doesn't want to deal with a complaint and finds it easier to fire the employee.

“Sexual harassment is always unacceptable, and it is especially disturbing when the harassers are mistreating a teenager in the workplace, as was the case here,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The EEOC takes its mission to eradicate this misconduct very seriously.”


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November 4, 2009

Firefighters File Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Kathy Rogers and Lisa Theberge who are two female firefighters filed a lawsuit against Westbrook's fire department, mayor and city administrator, claiming they failed to address sexual harassment that was documented in complaints to the Maine Human Rights Commission ("MHRC"). The MHRC is similar to the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and is where I file most of my sexual harassment complaints. Both women are on paid administrative leave and are alleging obscene sexual harassment and discriminatory behavior in their lawsuit.

According to the allegations in the lawsuit several male firefighters, including the deputy chief, lieutenants and captains, engaged in incidents ranging from masturbation and pornography at the station to a sexual affair and sex at a fire department gathering. In one particular instance it is alleged that the deputy chief once approached Theberge and began stroking her hair. He was put on unpaid administrative leave for two weeks and, the lawsuit says, ''allowed to take it a day each week for his convenience.'' Some male firefighters groped female victims in the rescue vehicle and bragged about it afterwards. They were put on unpaid administrative leave for two weeks, discipline that Webber, one of the attorney's for the two firefighters called ''disproportionate to their conduct.''

''Sexual harassment is alive and well in the city of Westbrook at a level that's shocking to imagine,'' Webber said.

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October 29, 2009

Jewerly Store Pays $405,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A sexual harassment and retaliation case filed by a former security officer at a jewerly store was settled for $405,000. The security guard claimed he was sexually harassed and terminated after reporting the harassment to management in violation of federal employment law. The security guard alleged that during his employment as a security officer he was subjected to various acts of sexual harassment, including unwanted sexual attention and sexual propositions from a female senior manager, numerous instances of inappropriate and unwanted physical contact, and inappropriate and offensive comments.

According to the lawsuit the security guard reported the sexual harassment to senior management in accordance with company policy and, after doing so, he was terminated by the harasser as an act of retaliation. After filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") the case was resolved through a negotiated settlement for $405,000.

October 28, 2009

Hobby Lobby Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $35,000

According to court papers filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), Hobby Lobby prohibited Julie Tufts, an employee in its Rochester, Minn.-based store, to use her wheelchair when performing her job and failed to accommodate her inability to climb ladders. This is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") and as a result, Hobby Lobby agreed to pay Tufts $35,000 plus other relief to settle her discrimination claim. The ADA portion of her claim was that Tufts was unable to continue to work at Hobby Lobby due to the alleged discrimination and was discharged because she could not come back to work without use of the wheelchair.

Along with paying $35,000 Hobby Lobby signed an injunction against discrimination and retaliation. Retaliation takes place when an employee is singled out because of filing a claim of discrimination or asking for a reasonable accomodation. In this case asking for a reasonable accomodation because of Tufts requirement to be in a wheel chair. As part of the settlement Hobby Lobby must revise its internal policies to clarify that persons with temporary impairments may be considered as persons with disabilities. Hobby Lobby must also conduct employee training on ADA issues and update its employee handbooks.

“This case might never have arisen if Hobby Lobby had clear policies to guide its management and human resources employees in determining whether to provide reasonable accommodations to employees whose impairments are long-lasting but not necessarily permanent,” said EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson of the agency’s Chicago District.
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.”

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October 21, 2009

EEOC Says Retaliation Claims On The Rise

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") claims including a retaliation charge rose 23% in the year ended Sept. 30, 2008. The EEOC says more than a third of all claims filed with the agency have claims involving retaliation. Claims that didn't involve retaliation rose 12% during the same period. EEOC officials cite several reasons for the increase in retaliation claims. Due to the tough economy many employees feel slighted at being laid off or fired. Additionally, many companies are firing workers who complain because there are so many workers willing to take the employees job due to the tough job market. This is one instance where the squeaky wheel doesn't get the oil but gets the boot.

Retaliation is easier to prove than discrimination involving sexual harassment, or based on other forms of discrimination especially since a 2006 Supreme Court decision adopted a broader definition of retaliation. Many times a claim filed by the EEOC will have both a discrimination claim and retaliation claim. For example, an employee who is sexually harassed at work will report the harassment and then get fired or demoted. The employee will then file a claim with the EEOC for sexual harassment and retaliation.

October 20, 2009

M&N Equipment Sued For Sexual Harassment

M&N Equipment was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging a woman was retaliated against after making a sexual harassment complaint against a co-worker. According to the lawsuit the women was sexual harassed while working at the compnay and complained to management about the harassment. The company not only failed to remedy the situation at work but engaged in retaliation against the women when she came forward.

The lawsuit alleges that during the four months after the woman complained about being sexually harassed the company retaliated by reducing her work hours, taking away her company car, not giving her a promised transfer, and then fired her without explanation. Then once the woman found work at another company, M&N Equipment called that company two days later and falsely maligned her work performance, resulting in her being fired by her new employer.

"It is particularly important for a woman to feel safe from retaliation when she speaks out against sexual harassment in a workplace," said Mary Jo O'Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC office. "This is precisely the reason our laws prohibit retaliation for sexual harassment complaints."


October 19, 2009

Chicken Restaurant Chain Sued For Sexual Harassment

Chicken restaurant chain Seymour Zaxbys is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassement and retaliation. According to the lawsuit two employees were sexual harassed and then complained about the sexual harassment. The same day that they complained about the sexual harassment they were both fired.

As a matter of law retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits retaliating against employees who complain about alleged unlawful employment practices such as sexual harassment. In cases like this the EEOC will try to settle the case prior to filing a lawsuit. Damages which can be awarded in sexual harassment and retaliation cases include compensatory damages, punitive damages and an injunction against future discrimination. Also the company could be ordered to hire the employees back.

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 17, 2009

Doctor Sues Hospital and Doctor For Sexual Harassment

A doctor at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center filed a lawsuit against the hospital and her boss Hector Wong claiming gender discrimination and sexual harassment. The doctor accuses Wong of sexually harassing her beginning when she interviewed for a job at the hospital. Additionally the lawsuit alleges gender discrimination against her based on lesser pay than comparable male doctors. She also claims she was not promoted because she rejected Wong's sexual advances which is retaliation.

According to the doctor, she was threatened by Wong who is a martial artist after she rejected his sexual advances. At the same time her promotion was rejected and given to another female doctor who did not reject Wong's sexual advances, according to the lawsuit. The doctor claims the hospital should have known about Wong's sexual harassment and did not stop it.

The doctor claims Wong and the hospital retaliated against her after she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging sexual harassment against Wong and of the hospital.


October 16, 2009

Real Estate Agent/Mayor Sued For Sexual Harassment

Real estate agent Joseph H. Mancini and Mayor of Long Beach Township is being sued for sexual harassment. In the lawsuit Kymberly Oakes alleges she suffered economic losses, emotional pain and suffering and mental anguish after she rejected the sexual advances of her boss. The lawsuit states Mancini made numerous and repeated sexual advances toward Oakes who has been employed since 2006. The complaint states that Oakes began to reject the advances as she continued her employment.

The lawsuit alleges Mancini engaged in retaliation against Oakes after she rejected his advances and that Mancini used his position as her supervisor and mayor to retaliate by, threatening to accuse her of forging checks, refusing to pay Oakes commission for her work as an agent, interfering with her real estate clients and future business prospects. It is alleged he even threatened to revoke her real estate license.

"I can say it's meritorious. She has a strong case," John Sanders Oakes attorney said.
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.


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October 13, 2009

Graduate Assistant At USM Settles Sexual Harassment Case for $112,500

Colleen Speaker a graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi ("USM") settled her lawsuit with the school for $112,500. Speaker alleged sexual harassment from then-coach Randy Rowley. Rowley, 49, refused to talk about the matter and resigned his position from the university. The allegations included physical as well as mental sexual harassment. There aren't more specifics available at this time.

Speaker was hired as an assistant by Rowley and after she rejected his advances her position was eliminated. This would seem to be a clear case of retaliation and it is unclear if she is also filing a claim for that or if this settlement covers the alleged retaliation as well.

"I have absolutely no comment on any of that," Rowley said. "I resigned due to personal reasons."
October 12, 2009

Female Employee Awarded $127,713 in Sexual Harassment Case

Lindsay Gerken, 25 has been successful in her claim against Michael Ruppert and his company on her claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. The Oregon state Bureau of Labor and Industries ("BOLI") ordered Ruppert and his company to pay Gerken $127,713 in damages for the sexual harassment and retaliation. The ruling said that a continuing pattern of sexual harassment began shortly after Gerken was hired and included Ruppert coming to Gerken’s office door “wearing only his underwear and a smile.” Gerken declined Rupert’s explicit invitation to engage in a sexual relationship and was terminated the following week, which is obvious retaliation.

The Oregon BOLI is similar to the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and is in charge of investigating claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. Cases like this are not uncommon in the work place and it is very important to take immediate action to protect your rights if you are the victim of sexual harassment.

“BOLI will not allow employers to ignore fundamental protections for workers rights,” said Brad Avakian, the state labor commissioner. “Sexual harassment of this magnitude is a brazen violation of the law.”

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October 8, 2009

Female Law Partner Sued For Sexual Harassment Of Female Associate

Jennifer Braude a former associate at the law firm Maron Marvel Bradley and Anderson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit which is full of juicy details. There is a twist to this sexual harassment lawsuit however as the harassor is her female boss. According to court papers during the 18 months Braude was an associate at Maron Marvel Bradley & Anderson, she was subjected to a hostile work environment due to the sexually charged conversations initiated by her direct supervisor, Meredith Sossman. Sossman has since been fired and is now assistant vice president at Drexel University's Earle Mack School of Law.

The lawsuit alleges that Sossman talked about her own sexual interests, including engaging in foursomes and kissing her best female friend, who Sossman allegedly described as looking very similar to Braude. Sossman also allegedly made Braude turn around slowly when she entered the room so Sossman could see what she was wearing and made Braude's sex life the subject of discussion. Braude first file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

Sossman would allegedly tell Braude she was dirty hot and pressured her to go with her to a sex toys shop in Concordville, Pa., to purchase a vibrator, directing her on how to use it and instructing her to report back to Sossman in the morning after she used it.


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October 6, 2009

Restaurant Sued For Sexual Harassment Of Minor

Two brothers, Paul Martinez, 57, and John Martinez, 56 who own Arvada Mexican restaurant are being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment of a 16-year-old employee, April Wyatt-now an adult. The two brothers are accused of physical and verbal sexual harassment and then retaliation when they fired the female employee after she complained of the sexual harassment.

According to the lawsuit starting in 2003 and ending in 2006, Paul Martinez repeatedly groped Wyatt by grabbing her backside, crotch and breast; pulled her underwear; and stuck his fingers in her mouth when she yawned. Martinez also shared inappropriate jokes and comments with Wyatt. By the end of 2006 Wyatt could no longer take the sexual harassment and complained. She was fired shortly thereafter which is retaliation.

“The conduct alleged here is reprehensible,” Stuart J. Ishimaru, acting chairman of the EEOC, said in a statement. “The harassment was compounded by the retaliation against a teenager who sought to complain about her illegal treatment.

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October 5, 2009

Chicago's Tomayo Financial Services Sued For Sexual Harassment

Tomayo Financial Services, based in Chicago Illinois was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment and retaliation. Tomayo has four offices in Chicago and is a mortgage lending organization. According to the lawsuit female employees were sexually harassed and subjected to retaliation when they complained about the sexual harassment.

The EEOC claims numerous men employed at Tomayo, including executives, were part of continuous and widespread sexual harassment of women. The men referred to women with sexual epithets, engaged in threatening physical and verbal sexual conduct. The women reported the sexual harassment but nothing was done by Tomayo to stop the conduct and it only increased.

John Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney for the Chicago District, said, “It does not matter what industry is involved—whether it’s automobiles, household products, mortgages—sexual harassment and retaliation are non-starters from both a business and a legal perspective.

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October 2, 2009

Hilltown Packing Sued For Sexual Harassment

Hilltown Packing is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment and retaliation. It all started when Filomena Ruelas who packed broccoli in the fields for the company between 1999 and 2005, faced sexual comments, propositions and touching from her supervisor. After reporting the behavior to management, she was not called back to work the next season, the suit says.

In cases like this many times the employer is not interested in helping to stop the sexual harassment because they are only interested in making money. Anyone who put a monkey wrench into the money makeing maching is deemed a trouble maker and retaliated against.

"All I wanted to do is work in peace and help support my family," Ruelas said.


September 28, 2009

Adams Brothers Farm Sued By EEOC For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Adams Brothers Farming Inc. is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Yareli Uriostegui claiming sexual harassment and retaliation. According to the lawsuit Uriostegui was subjected to repeated sexual harassment and she complained about it to management which did nothing to stop the sexual harassment. Shortly after complaining about the sexual harassment Uriostegui was fired by Adams Brothers Farming Inc. which the EEOC claims is retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court and claims a foreman touched Uriostegui sexually many times and also verbally harassed her in a sexual nature. When Uriostegui complained, she was written up for poor performance and fired two weeks later. The EEOC is seeking compensatory damages, back pay, punitive damages and other injunctive relief.

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September 25, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settles For $120,000 Between UPS and EEOC

UPS settles a lawsuit involving Joanne Nijem who was represented by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $120,000. Nijem also alleged that UPS engaged in retaliation once she reported the sexual harassment. Nijem was the only female employee at the facility and alleged she was subjected almost daily to insults and criticisms in front of coworkers and customers, and when she reported the sexual harassment to the company hotline and the regional director, she was terminated a week later--which in Illinois is retaliation.

As in most cases like this UPS denied it did anyting wrong. As part of the settlement UPS will provide training to management and human resources officials who fired Nijem and agreed to maintain an anti-harassment policy and post it so employees can see it. When you look at the amount of money UPS had to pay on a case like this it makes you wonder what supervisors are thinking when they engage in such behavior.

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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.

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September 15, 2009

Appeals Court Upholds $241,708 National Origin Verdict

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a jury verdict int he amount of $241,708 for plaintiff Youssef Bouamama against Go Daddy Software Inc. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Bouamama, a Muslim of Moroccan national origin who speaks Arabic and claimed Go Daddy Software Inc. had engaged in retaliation against Bouamama when it fired him for complaining about religious and national origin discrimination.

In the underlining lawsuit, the jury found in favor of Bouamama and said that Go Daddy Software Inc. terminated Bouamama, for complaining about religious discrimination and national origin discrimination. After 9-11, there has been a rise in the number of complaints and lawsuit filed based on national origin. Muslims seem to be the latest group to be subjected to this type of discriminatory conduct.

“We are pleased that the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the jury’s finding of retaliation,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office.

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September 8, 2009

Two Females File Discrimination Lawsuit Against Minnesota State University

A discrimination lawsuit has been filed against Minnesota State University ("MSU") by director of the University's Campus Access Program ("CAP"), Tonya Phillips and the program's retention specialist Dalton Crayton, claiming they've been subjected to racial discrimination and retaliation based on their race.

Under federal law Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, retaliation occurs when an employee is fired or has his/her terms and conditions of work changed as a result of making a formal complaint of discrimination. Title VII also protects those individuals who testify, assist or participate in an investigation of illegal activity or those who oppose unlawful employment practices.

University spokesperson Michael Cooper says MSU couldn't comment on the issue because it's pending litigation.The Minnesota State College and University system says MSU is moving to have the case dismissed; that motion will be heard October 23 in US District Court.

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September 7, 2009

Police Dispatcher Sues For Sexual Harassment

Former borough police dispatcher Brittany Kane filed a sexual harassment lawsuit alleging she was terminated after she said patrol officer Travis Allie sexually harassed her. According to the lawsuit Kane was repeatedly sexually harassed by Allie, including obtaining Kane's phone number without her permission, sending her messages claiming they engaged in sexual activity, making inappropriate remarks about her appearance, and at least once touching her inappropriately.

The lawsuit also alleges Allie became increasingly hostile toward her when Kane rejected his advances. Four days after she met with Lt. David Dudeck to change her schedule to avoid Allie, Kane was fired, which is proven would constitute retaliation. Township administrator Robert Bruschi told the Times of Trenton Kane was fired for unsatisfactory job performance.

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September 6, 2009

Restaurant Worker Sues For Sexual Harassment After Hot Dog Used in Lewd Gesture

A Taxi's Restaurant worker, Joanne Cole was was sexually assualted by a male co-worker who used hot dogs in lewd gestures simulating fornication and she was bitten by the co-worker until she bled. The lawsuit by Cole alleges sexual harassment, sexual assault, discrimination and retaliation. The lawsuit alleges that while she worked for Taxi’s Hamburgers in Dublin California, she was subjected to ongoing sexual harassment, sexual assault and discrimination, and upon complaining of the unlawful behavior, nothing was done.

The lawsuit alleges that a Taxi’s supervisor directly observed Joanne Cole being assaulted by another co-worker who was by biting her lips and back while she fought him off telling him to stop. The supervisor did nothing after seeing the assault occur and instead turned his attention back to the television program he was watching.

The allegations state that Ms. Cole was subjected to lewd and lascivious gestures by other male employees including gesturing to their penises to simulate masturbation and holding a hotdog to their lower extremities as if it was a penis and gesturing to female employees. Ms. Cole was also repeatedly bitten on the lips and back by another male co-worker. Taxi’s Hamburgers took no action. Officers from the Dublin police department ultimately arrested the former co-worker.

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September 5, 2009

EEOC Sues Nurse One Team One For Sexual Harassment

Nurse One Team One is the subject of a federal lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of 25 former nurses who claim a patient sexually harassed them. According to the sexual harassment lawsuit, they claim a client inappropriately touched, groped and made sexual requests of them. The lawsuit alleges that man requested that only female certified nursing assistants provide his care.

The lawsuit alleges that Nurse One Team One ignored at least 25 written complaints of sexual harassment from that male client. EEOC attorneys said the company even retaliated against one of the CNA's by firing her because the woman refused to apologize to that male client for warning a fellow co-worker about her experience with him. The lawsuit asks for unspecified amount including back wages, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.

"There is no excuse for knowingly and repeatedly subjecting female employees to a sexually hostile and abusive work environment," said Katharine Kores, EEOC Memphis district office director.
August 28, 2009

Waterford Police Department Sued Again For Sexual Harassment

The Waterford Township Police Department was sued again for sexual harassment. Arlene Hampton filed the lawsuit containing two claims of sexual harassment alleging she was sexually harassed by male police department employees and subsequently suffered retaliation for complaining about it. The lawsuit comes eight months after the township paid a $325,000 settlement to police department clerk Penny Dye to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit.

Lt. Jim Lalone was named as the defendant in both Hampton's and Dye's lawsuits. Hampton alleges Lalone repeatedly commented on her body, legs, and mode of dress, and on occasion told her she dressed like a whore. Lalone allegedly told another male officer he planned to have sexual relations with Hampton. Despite Hampton's appeals to her supervisor and the township's attorney to investigate alleged sexual harassment targeting not only her but female co-workers, the harassment allegedly continued.

According to the lawsuit she was repeatedly sexually harassed by Lalone, who referred to women within the department as "tits" rather than calling them individually by name, according to the lawsuit. He allegedly referred to the department's female employees collectively as the "bra brigade," or the "bra corps."


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August 25, 2009

Nassau County Ordered to Pay $604,589 after Losing Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Nassau County was ordered to pay $604,589 to Patricia Luca in salary differential to a correction officer barred from becoming a police officer in retaliation for a previous sexual harassment lawsuit she filed. This amount was affirmed by the appellate court however the appellate court did give the county the chance to reargue in the U.S. District Court whether nearly $200,000 in attorney fees and costs should be awarded to the lawyer who represented Patricia Luca of East Meadow in the case.

Luca, 40, had been a correction officer more than four years when she filed her sexual harassment lawsuit in 2000 alleging that she was sexually harassed at the Nassau County Jail in East Meadow as the result of a in-house seminar on cultural diversity. She said a fictitious "scenario" that was distributed and used her name had embarrassed and humiliated her and made her the butt of lewd comments from many of her colleagues, destroying her self-esteem and career. She took a settlement offer in mid-2003.

In 1994 Luca placed 20th among hundreds of applicants on the police civil service exam given but in 2003 she was told that she was a "non-select" candidate on the certified Civil Service List and did not place in the incoming Nassau County Police Academy that began in early 2004. She filed the current lawsuit, saying that because of the previous one she was harassed by police officers investigating her background. She added that because she was a "non-select" on the Civil Service List, she was also rejected by several village police departments.

"The county was extremely disappointed in the opinion. We are considering our options," said Nassau County Attorney Lorna Goodman.


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August 24, 2009

Former City Administrator Who Was Seeking $11.9 Million Settles for $15,000 in Sexual Harassment Case

Former Zimmer-man city administrator, Gregory LaFond, and Sherburne County settled a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit for $15,000. However, although LaFond is getting $15,000 from the county, in a cross-claim, LaFond must pay Deputy Michele Vlasak $12,000 to settle her claim against him. This is a long way from the $11.9 million LaFond was seeking.
In September 2007 LaFond filed suit against the county, former Sheriff Bruce Anderson, County Attorney Kathleen Heaney and Deputy Michele Vlasak, as well as other unnamed individuals.

In his lawsuit, LaFond accused the county of conspiring against him due to his work with the city of Zimmerman in negotiating the law enforcement contract between the city and county, as well as other duties with the sheriff’s department. LaFond claimed Anderson tarnished his reputation when he questioned the rising costs of the sheriff’s department in Zimmerman. LaFond also claimed Vlasak, whose duties were assigned to Zimmerman, conspired to assist in this retaliation by bringing a sexual harassment allegation against LaFond.

According to the Star News, Vlasak filed suit against LaFond, asserting a counterclaim that he had defamed her in claiming the harassment allegations were baseless and part of a conspiracy. In the end, the claims against all of the individual defendants were dismissed as part of the settlement. However, Anderson said, based on the estimates of another $60,000 to $100,000 it would have taken in defending the case, and the disruption of services to the public, just settling the case seemed appropriate.

“In our opinion resolving a complaint asking for a total of $11.9 million dollars in damages for a payment of $15,000 to Mr. LaFond, while at the same time Mr. LaFond has a payment made on his behalf of $12,000 to Deputy Vlasak, was not only reasonable, but in the interest of the public,” Anderson said.
August 23, 2009

Lowe's Pays $1.72 Million To Settle Retaliation and Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Lowe's settled a retaliation and sexual harassment discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for $1.72 million and significant remedial relief on behalf of three employees in their twenties who were subjected to a pervasive sexually hostile work environment and retaliated against for complaining about it. The former employees, two young men and one woman, were subjected to widespread and repeated sexual harassment by male and female managers and coworkers at a Lowe’s store in Longview, Wash., according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The hostile work environment, which endured for more than six months, included physical and verbal abuse which culminated in one instance of sexual assault.

Among the many allegations in the lawsuit a female employee, age 21 at the time, was sexually assaulted by the 44-year-old male store manager in his office. Prior to the alleged assault, the EEOC said she was implicitly propositioned for sex by the manager related to a recent promotion she received. EEOC asserted that Lowe’s not only failed to take prompt remedial action to stop the sexual harassment, but also fired the three victims in the case. Retaliation occurs when an employee is fired for refusing or reporting sexual harassment.

“Corporate America should be on notice that sexual harassment and retaliation will not be tolerated by the EEOC,” said Commission Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “In this case, severe sex-based harassment of young workers was permitted to run rampant at one of the nation’s largest retailers. It is shocking that Lowe’s store managers actively engaged in, and even encouraged, such blatant unlawful conduct and then retaliated against the victims for objecting to it.”

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August 22, 2009

Hillsborough County Pays Alyssa Ogden $75,000 in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A jury took less than three hours today to decide that Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White made unwanted sexual advances toward his former 24-year-old aide Alyssa Ogden, then fired her because she rejected those advances. Ogden was awarded $15,000 for past and future medical bills and $60,000 for pain and anguish. The county spent more than $100,000 to defend the sexual harassment lawsuit.

The verdict wound up a five-day trial which centered largely on a 2007 trip to Atlanta. During that trip Ogden alleges that White came to her hotel room at 2 a.m. and tried to have sex with her. Ogden alleged that White planned the trip to try and have sex with her. When Ogden refused to have sex she was subjected to retaliation by being terminated. White's former friend and political supporter, C. Blythe Andrews Jr., denied the commissioner's story that he arranged Ogden's trip to Atlanta at Andrews' request. Ogden says White asked her on the Atlanta trip, then tried to have sex with her there. The commissioner's uncle, Andre Moses White, first supported White's claim that he stayed at his uncle's house the night Ogden said the commissioner tried to sleep with her in an Atlanta hotel room. But the uncle later recanted the statement, saying his mind had been muddled by medications.

County Commissioner Rose Ferlita called the verdict "embarrassing" for taxpayers struggling with their own economic problems who must now shoulder legal fees.
August 21, 2009

Wilcox Farm Pays $260,000 to Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Wilcox Farms, which operates dairy and egg production facilities in Oregon and Washington, will pay $260,000 and provide remedial relief to settle a federal sexual harassment and retaliation suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit alleged that a male supervisor repeatedly grabbed, sought to forcibly undress and propositioned Wilcox Farms employee Diana Dominguez at its Aurora, Ore., facility. According to the federal agency’s investigation, the sexual harassment continued over many months despite Dominguez’s complaints to management, to the point where she began to fear for her physical safety. The EEOC found that Wilcox retaliated against Dominguez for reporting the harassment by isolating her from co-workers, forcing her to continue to work with the harasser and pressuring her to resign. Dominguez ultimately was forced to quit out of fear for her safety-which meets the legal definition of retaliation.

Under the terms of the consent decree settling the suit, Wilcox Farms denied any wrongdoing but will pay Dominguez $260,000. The company also agreed to adopt and to distribute to all employees a sexual harassment policy written in both English and Spanish; make its complaint procedures more convenient for employees to report harassment and retaliation; conduct sexual harassment training in English and Spanish for all managers, supervisors and employees; and to provide various reports to the EEOC over a three-year period.

EEOC Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, "This case involved a supervisor’s serious abuse of power over a female employee. Employers must take every report of harassment seriously. They shouldn’t dismiss such behavior as ‘the cost of doing business’ or ignore problems in hopes that they will go away. The law requires them to quickly and effectively respond to such complaints. Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal – no one should be required to work in a hostile environment.”


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August 20, 2009

PetSmart Throws Bone To EEOC and Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

PetSmart, Inc., the nation’s leading retailer of services and products for pets, agreed to pay $125,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve a federal sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit female employees were subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment by a store manager. The store manager’s sexually offensive conduct and comments included repeatedly grabbing his genitals while talking to female employees and making explicit sexual comments and sexual innuendoes.

PetSmart not only failed to take prompt and effective action to stop the sexual harassment but engaged in unlawful retaliation against a female manager after she complained. The store manager allegedly yelled at the woman, belittled her in front of subordinates, followed her around the store and disciplined her despite her good job performance. As a result of the unrelenting harassment and unwarranted retaliation, the EEOC said, she was forced to quit her job. In additional to the cash settlement, PetSmart agreed to mandatory EEO training of all managers, supervisors and employees about employee rights and employer obligations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“We filed this lawsuit because all employees have the right to complain about sexual harassment without suffering unlawful reprisals,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence. “We are pleased that the parties were able to resolve this matter and that PetSmart agreed to a variety of corrective measures designed to prevent future problems in the workplace.”


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August 17, 2009

Brand Energy Solutions Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $175,000

Brand Energy Solutions, L.L.C. which operates Texas refineries will pay $175,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ('EEOC"). The EEOC said that an operations manager employed by Brand at a Corpus Christi refinery sexually harassed a female timekeeper whom he supervised. The sexual harassment included subjecting her to repeated unwelcome physical contact, sexual advances and comments; placing lurid images on her work computer; and threatening and intimidating behavior such as throwing objects at her and locking her in a trailer.

According to the suit, the woman was forced to quit her job when Brand Scaffold failed to take prompt and appropriate remedial action to address the harassment, as the law requires. Further, the EEOC charged, Brand retaliated against the woman for complaining about the abuse. After she complained to management she was removed from her work site, placed directly in the harasser's office and was shunned by the other employees. She was told by co-workers and at least one Brand manager that whistleblowers never keep their jobs. This is a form of retaliation. Once an employee complains of discrimination and employer may not take disciplinary action against the employee.

“The law requires employers to take reasonable steps to prevent such sexual harassment,” said David Rivela, senior trial attorney of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “We will continue to actively prosecute cases where employees are subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. We are glad that Brand was willing to resolve this matter.”

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August 15, 2009

Material Resources Pays $57,000 To Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") announced it settled a racial discrimination lawsuit against Material Resources LLC for $50,000 in compensatory damages, payment of $7,500 to an ex-employee and the company will offer anti-discrimination training.

The lawsuit alleged the company doing business as Gateway Co-Packing Co. didn't give a black employee the pay raise and health insurance coverage his white co-workers got. The EEOC says the company then fired the employee after he filed a complaint. This is commonly referred to as retaliation. In Illinois if an employee complains of discriminatory conduct the company cannot then discipline or termination the employee as a result of the employee bringing the discriminatory conduct to the attention of the company.

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."
August 8, 2009

Apartment Owner Ordered to Pay $244,000 in Sexual Harassment Case

Arthur Burton the owner of a Kettering apartment complex in Ohio was ordered to pay a total of $244,000 to a young woman who was an employee and tenant. According to the sexual harassment lawsuit, Burton asked the young woman about her sex life, about when she last had it, and most persistently, whether she would have sex with him. She always said no. According to the lawsuit, this all started when the woman was 20 and moved into the apartment. The apartment door had been kicked in, and Burton came by to fix it. During the week she lived there, he never finished the job. Instead, he asked her questions about herself. Soon, he was propositioning her for sex.

According to the lawsuit the woman came to his apartment to work on his computer, and Burton had pornography playing on the television. She reported this harassment to the police and they said this was a he said, she said and she needed evidence. She hid a digital recorder in her bra and recorded their future conversations. The transcript of her conversations with Burton, made on April 13, 2007, runs nearly 150 pages. It contains much mundane conversation about Burton’s business, but the topic of sex keeps returning. Burton tells her she turns him on. He asks her if she is attracted to him. He repeatedly propositions her. Some of his conversations could be seen as vailed threats of retaliation.

"You’re probably a sexual dynamo, aren’t you?” he asked. “I ain’t going to answer that question,” she replied, according to a transcript of a conversation she secretly taped.

The woman mentions several times that she was offended that he offered to pay her for sex. Burton explains repeatedly that he didn’t want her to lose money for sex with him during working hours. In Illinois it is illegal to tape a conversation without the consent of both parties or without a court order as Illinois is one of twelve states that require all party consent.

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August 7, 2009

Golden Corral Pays $85,000 in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Calvin Young was awarded $85,000 in a sexual harassment lawsuit against his former employer, the Golden Corral restaurant on U.S. 19. According to the allegations in the lawsuit, Young worked there for about a month in 2006 and claimed that two gay male co-workers pestered him on a near-daily basis with lewd remarks and pressed up against his body, forcing him into a "sandwich." He complained to two managers and they did nothing about it. Instead the company fired Young for what it called job performance problems, but Young claims it was in retaliation for complaining about the sexual harassment.

Young and three other restaurant employees, Kenneth Vaughn, Dawn Haschalk and Pamela Gause, filed lawsuits against Sunny Corral, the Dallas-based franchise owner. Young claimed that he was sexually harassed and fired in retaliation for complaining about it. The jury found in favor of Young on all three counts, and awarded him $20,000 in back pay, $5,000 for pain and suffering, $60,000 in punitive damages. The other cases are pending.

In many sexual harassment cases, once an employee complains of harassment, the company engages in retaliation by writing up the employee for any perceived infraction and uses that as a basis to terminate the employee.

"I'm so glad that justice prevailed," Young said in an interview Monday. "It's so easy to defend a case instead of prove it."
August 3, 2009

L&T Group of Companies, Ltd Pays $1.7 Million to Settle Discrimination Cases With The EEOC

L&T Group of Companies, Ltd., the largest employer and conglomerate of garment manufacturers in Saipan, will pay $1.7 million and to provide far reaching and significant injunctive relief to settle a series of lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuits alleged the company violated federal law regarding retaliation and discrimination based on national origin, pregnancy and age, all in violation of federal law. The EEOC alleged that the employer retaliated against 14 Filipino and Bangladeshi workers when it terminated them because they filed charges of discrimination with the EEOC.

The allegations in the case also included that Bangladeshi security guards were being treated differently than Nepalese with respect to assignment of overtime hours, work location, and housing. Further, the EEOC said the defendants discriminated on the basis of national origin by providing different amounts of benefits to Nepalese, Chinese, Filipino and Bangladeshi employees, and failed to conduct any investigation regarding the claimants’ allegations. Within two or three months after the charge was filed with the EEOC, the defendants unlawfully retaliated against the workers by failing to renew their contracts.

“This major settlement shows that the EEOC will vigorously protect the rights of all workers, within every reach of our jurisdiction, to be free of discrimination,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The resolutions of these egregious cases bring a measure of justice to the many workers who were retaliated against and otherwise victimized by discriminatory employment practices because of their national origin, age, or pregnancy.”

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July 31, 2009

Florida Settles Three Sexual Harassment Lawsuits For $225,000

The Flordia State Attorney’s Office settled three sexual harassment lawsuits for $75,000 each for a total of $225,000. The three women, Brenda Keys, Gena Duncan and Barbara Chase alleged that former State Attorney Steve Meadows sexually harassed and retaliated against them because of their complaints. Meadows is no longer the State's attorney as he was defeated in last Novembers election.

Keys’ and Duncan’s claims were investigated by the Florda State Human Relations Commission ("FSHRC") last year, which found evidence to support their allegations and cleared the way for the lawsuits to be filed. The commission’s investigative report mentioned Chase, which allowed her to also file her own lawsuit. The FSHRC is analagous to the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") in that it investigates claims of employment discrimination and determines if there is substantial evidence to allow the employee to file with either the state court or Illinois Human Rights Commission for trial.

“We looked at the individual claims, the HRC report and things we learned as we were investigating these claims,” Hess said. “We felt that the claim of a sexually oppressive workplace was going to be difficult to defend. We reached a settlement that we felt was fair to those women in the harassment claims and which we could live with.”

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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.

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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.”

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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 11, 2009

People Preferred Staffing Settles Gender and Retaliation Lawsuit With EEOC for $250,000

Preferred Labor LLC, doing business as Preferred People Staffing, which is a national employment agency chain agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit, Preferred subjected a class of female employees in its Worcester, Mass., facility to unlawful job segregation on the basis of sex and then retaliated against one woman for complaining. The EEOC said that Preferred restricted women to a narrow range of assignments and complied with discriminatory requests from its clients for male-only temporary employees which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Law of 1964.

“This settlement is a stark reminder to businesses: A customer’s preference to be staffed or served only by workers of a particular gender is never an excuse to engage in illegal sex discrimination,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru.

U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV approved a consent decree detailing the settlement in which Preferred will pay $250,000 to women who were affected by the discriminatory practices. In addition, if Preferred resumes conducting business as a temporary day labor agency, it will be enjoined from engaging in discrimination or retaliation and will implement policies and procedures prohibiting those practices. Also, the company will have to conduct anti-discrimination training for its employees and managers and take other steps designed to prevent discrimination and retaliation.

July 10, 2009

EEOC Settles ADA Discrimination Lawsuit with Swissotel of Chicago for $90,000

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") settled a federal lawsuit with Swissotel for $90,000 thereby resolving a harassment and wrongful termination lawsuit.

The EEOC charged in its suit that Swissotel violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") by permitting two supervisors at its downtown Chicago hotel to harass, then fire the employee because of his developmental disability. The employee was repeatedly called “retarded” by his supervisors.

In addition to paying $90,000, Swissotel is required under the consent decree settling the suit to give ADA training to all of its Chicago-based employees, post a notice of the settlement at its Chicago hotel, and report to the EEOC complaints of harassment or disability discrimination and any actions taken as a result of the complaints.

Disability-based harassment, just like other forms of discriminatory workplace harassment, is against federal law and is tolerated by employers at their peril,” said John Hendrickson, regional attorney in the EEOC’s Chicago District Office.

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July 7, 2009

Hayward Police Department Settles Gender and Sexual Orientation Lawsuit For $5 Million

Fourteen female Hayward police officers said they had faced systematic harassment based on their gender or sexual orientation announced today the case has been settled for nearly $5 million. The lawsuit stated that women were subjected to sexual harassment and those who accepted such advances were favored for promotions, and that a rumor mill churned out demeaning stories about female officers having sexual relations with multiple men in the department, often men whose advances had been rebuffed.

Lesbian officers were seen as targets for "conversion," the suit stated. Harassment against one officer included making her privy to a videotape that showed her husband, also an officer, having sex with a dispatcher. The women claimed that those who complained about the workplace conditions were retaliated against via demotions or denial of promotion, and in four cases were fired.

Casper said the amount of the settlement indicated the insurance companies "recognized the problems the city has historically had with women being treated fairly at the police department. Close to $5 million is not an amount paid unless someone has recognized years of wrongdoing."

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July 6, 2009

Willamette Tree Wholesaler Sued For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation by EEOC

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") an Oregon nursery violated federal law when it allowed female employees to be severely sexually harassed and retaliated against the women and male co-workers after they reported the harassment. This is the EEOCs third such case against Oregon agricultural employers. Last October, the EEOC filed lawsuits against Scheimer Farms of Nyassa, Ore., and against Wilcox Farms, Inc., and Wilcox Dairy Farms Group in Aurora, Ore.

The EEOC’s suit charges that sexual harassment and retaliation occurred at the Molalla, Ore., facility of Willamette Tree Wholesale, which operates 140 acres of retail nursery farmland, including a garden supply store and business office. According to the federal agency’s investigation, one worker, a 38-year-old Latina, was taken to remote areas of the farm by the company foreman and raped repeatedly over several months. In addition to threatening her with termination and loss of needed income, the harasser physically coerced her with pruning shears, and made threats against her life as well as against her family. Ultimately, when she refused to be sexually assaulted yet again, she was fired.

Another Latina co-worker, age 35, faced daily sexual innuendos and propositions for sex as well as grabbing and touching. When she and her husband, who also worked there, reported sexual harassment by a crew leader, Willamette Tree failed to investigate or respond to their complaint. The EEOC alleges that the couple and her brother were terminated in retaliation for having reported and opposed sexual harassment.

“All sexual harassment isunacceptable, but what happened hereis unspeakable,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “This shows how dangerous a situation can become when employers are hostile to workers' rights andsexual harassment goes unchecked. There simply is no excuse for any employer tolerating this sort of worker abuse, and enough is enough."

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July 2, 2009

University of Phoenix Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit For $32,500

The University of Phoenix will pay former employee Latrish Elaine Tarhini $32,500 as part of a settlement of a pregnancy discrimination claim. Tarhini, who worked as enrollment counselor at the school’s Houston campus, claimed that University of Phoenix management said she would not be in line for a promotion because she made an earlier pregnancy discrimination claim against the Phoenix-based company and its parent, Apollo Group Inc. This is a form of retaliation and is unlawful. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a lawsuit against the University of Phoenix on behalf of Tarhini in September 2008 in federal court, claiming the university violated retaliation statutes of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is a violation of federal law to discriminate against employees who previously filed discrimination claims against their employers.

In the settlement, the University of Phoenix admitted no wrongdoing or liability, according to a statement provided to the Phoenix Business Journal. The “University of Phoenix is pleased to have resolved this matter. We are dedicated to providing a work environment in which our employees are treated fairly and with respect, and are recognized and rewarded based on their accomplishments. University of Phoenix is committed to providing equal opportunity in all aspects of employment and does not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind,” the university statement read.

July 1, 2009

Harrison County Sheriff Mike Deatrick and Harrison County Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $375,500

Earlier this month, a $375,500 settlement was reached in a civil lawsuit against Harrison County Sheriff Mike Deatrick and Harrision County stemming from the sexual harassment allegations. The settlement requires the county to pay for training for sheriff's department employees, including jail officers, in an effort to avert future employment discrimination. Harrision County is in Indiana.

Under the settlement agreement also known as a consent decree, inn addition to the cash settlement, the decree would require the department to hire a federal monitor to oversee its anti-discrimination practices for a period of two years and to conduct annual equal employment opportunity.

Deanna Decker and Melissa Graham, who had worked as dispatchers, filed their initial complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in May 2008. Decker, 39, said in the complaint that the sheriff touched her breasts on numerous occasions and once put his hands down her pants. Graham said Deatrick left sexually derogatory messages on her personal cell phone and made similar remarks in person.
In a later complaint, both women said Deatrick engaged in retaliation after the first complaint in part by staring at the women while brandishing his drawn gun.

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 25, 2009

Ryan's Family Steakhouse Pays $500,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Fire Mountain Restaurants LLC, doing business as Ryan’s Family Steakhouse (Ryan’s) settled a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $500,000. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit Ryan’s subjected black and female employees to a sex-based and race-based hostile work environment, as well as adverse terms and conditions of employment. In some instances, african-american workers were terminated because of their race. The EEOC charged that white employees were also harassed because of their association with black coworkers and family members. The mistreatment included being referred to as “n----r lovers” and “race traitors” by white managers.

The EEOC claimed female workers were harassed because of their gender, and all complainants suffered retaliation for reporting the discrimination. The gender-based hostile work environment included male managers physically intimidating women, making sexual advances, and calling them gender-related epithets such as bitches. This is a form of gender discrimination.

“Any company – whether large, mid-sized or small – should know better than to allow discrimination and harassment to run rampant,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “No one should ever have to endure a hostile workplace in order to make a living. Employers that continue to violate federal anti-discrimination laws risk enforcement action by the EEOC.”


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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.

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June 22, 2009

Simula Settles EEOC Gender and Retaliation Case For $110,000

A Phoenix-based international military contractor, Simula, which is owned by BAE Systems will pay $110,000 and furnish other relief to settle lawsuit charging gender discrimination, age discrimination and retaliation filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC’s suit (Case No. 2:07-CV-01656-PHX-ECV) in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona charged that Simula, Inc. discriminated against temporary employees Margaret Chavez, Laura Box, and Christine Hanson by paying them less than male employees who performed the same job duties and not making them permanent employees. The EEOC also charged that Simula discriminated against Chavez on the basis of her age and ended Box’s temporary employment in retaliation for her complaints of sexual harassment.

"Employers cannot take advantage of temporary employees by denying them a work environment free of gender and age discrimination and retaliation,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “Federal law protects both permanent and temporary employees from discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.”

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibit employment discrimination based on age, race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy or sexual harassment) or national origin and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation.

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June 18, 2009

University of Phoeniz Pays $32,500 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

To settle a retaliaion lawsuit the University of Phoenix, Inc. will pay $32,500 and ensure managers and employees are trained in complying with laws prohibiting employment discrimination and retaliation. It also requires a notice be issued to Tarhini’s former supervisor on the EEOC’s allegations of retaliation, and that the university provide the agency with annual reports reflecting any retaliation complaints with Title VII implications.

The EEOC’s lawsuit, filed in September 2008 (C.A. 4:08-cv-02890 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division), charged that Latrish Elaine Tarhini, an enrollment counselor at the University of Phoenix’s Houston campus, applied for the company’s leadership development program and for a position as a team lead. After she was not selected for either, the EEOC said, Tarhini learned that management had stated she would never be a manager or considered for management because of her earlier pregnancy discrimination charge against the company.

“Denying an employee training opportunities in retaliation for having previously filed a discrimination charge violates federal law as much as a retaliatory discharge,” said Kathy D. Boutchee, the EEOC senior trial attorney in charge of the case."
June 17, 2009

Providence Alaska Medical Center to pay $220,000 To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Providence Alaska Medical Center will pay $220,000 and revise its policies, provide training on discrimination and retaliation for operating room employees, and file regular reports with the EEOC for monitoring in addition to other injunctive relief as part of a settlement of an age discrimination lawsuit on behalf of five workers laid off and denied rehire because of their age.

The EEOC charged that in February 2005, Providence laid off and refused to rehire longtime employees Gola Anderson, Lawrence Harris, Milagros Lopez, Rebecca Petrie and Canijie Sadiku, following a restructuring of the hospital’s operating room. The five employees had devoted between 11 and 24 years of their careers as surgery aides and anesthesia technicians to Providence and all had hoped to retire from Providence one day. The EEOC said that the five employees, ages between 46 and 56, lost their jobs due to their age, and were replaced by new hires in their twenties and thirties.

"Employers have a duty to ensure that they do not run afoul of the law when they restructure their workforce,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “We commend Providence for working cooperatively to resolve this lawsuit and believe that the relief provided in the consent decree will prevent something like this from happening in the future.”

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June 14, 2009

Brooks Run Mining Co. and Neal & Associates Settle EEOC Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $115,000

Brooks Run Mining Company and staffing firm Neal & Associates will pay $115,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") According to the lawsuit, women security guards as a class were discriminated against because of their gender. The EEOC alleged the women complained about sexual harassment, then retaliated against as they were prevented either by layoffs or transfers from working at the Brooks Run Cucumber mine site, although those security jobs were available to men.

Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia (Case No. 5:08-cv-0071) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

"Too often, women working in non-traditional fields suffer this kind of discrimination,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The EEOC will fight to protect the rights of all workers to be free from discrimination based on gender and free from retribution for asserting that right.”

The three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit gives $115,000 to three women, all former security guards at the Cucumber mine site. In addition to monetary relief, the decree provides for significant remedial relief, including promoting supervisor accountability. The settlement also requires yearly training for all management staff on employee rights and employer obligations under federal and state anti-discrimination laws, with an emphasis on sex discrimination.


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June 10, 2009

Cicero Town President Larry Dominick Accused of Sexual Harassment

Sharon Starzyk a Cicero worker in the town's Animal Welfare Department, alleges in a federal lawsuit that Cicero President Larry Dominick embarked on "an increasingly offensive course" of sexual harassment and sexual assault, which included explicit comments, groping and inappropriate touching. The lawsuit also alleges Dominick sent Starzyk lewd and sexually explicit text message and that Dominick "grabbed and squeezed her breasts" and in one case "picked her up by her crotch."

According to a lawsuit Janidet Lujano, a former auxiliary police sergeant in the town of Cicero, accused Dominick of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching. The lawsuit alleged Dominick repeatedly commented about her breasts. She also said Dominick touched her inappropriately and made sexual comments about her mother.

Starzyk first revealed that she was sexually harassed and assaulted during a recent deposition hearing for the Lujano trial. Moran, Starzyk's attorney said Starzyk didn't want to tell anyone about the incidents in fear of losing her job, which is commonly known as retaliation.

June 8, 2009

Menards Ordered To Pay $1.5 Million To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Dawn Sands, former vice-president and executive general counsel of Menard Inc. was awarded $1.5 million in back pay and damages and rehired at a higher salary according to an arbitration agreement. The case started when Sands was earning $70,000 and she complained, prompting the company to terminate her employment. She filed a lawsuit claiming gender discrimination and retaliation.

Menards appealed the arbitration award and on April 14, 2009 the Wisconsin Third District Court ruled against Menards and upheld the arbitration award. The Court also found Menards in contempt for not rehiring sands and scheduled another hearing to determine damages.

Laws in Illinois provide that gender discrimination occurs if a company terminates or otherwise take an adverse job action against an employee because of the sex of the employee. A companies policies and employment rules must be applied equally to all employees. Policies and employment rules which have a disproportionately adverse impact on one sex are strictly prohibited under both Illinois and Federal law. In short, if you are a female and have the same qualifications of a man and do the same job but get less money you may have a gender based discrimination claim.

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June 7, 2009

Jackson Hewitt Tax Managers Accused Of Sexual Harassment

Rebeccas Myers, former employee of Jackson Hewitt Tax Service claims that when she complained that her boss at Jackson & Hewitt sexually harassed her, her boss's boss told her that "since they were alone in his office she could make herself feel better by performing oral sex on him." Myers sued Garfield & Johnson Enterprises dba Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, of Levittown, Pa.; her immediate supervisor, Michael Nolan; and Frank Johnson, a partner or principal of Garfield & Johnson, for sexual harassment and retaliation.

Myers claims that both men sexually harassed her and that Nolan's revolting behavior included asking her for ex, and telling her he wanted to "'lay [her] over a table' and have sex with her."
Myers alleges in her lawsuit that in evaluating her performance, "Nolan wrote in the evaluation, 'Rebecca Myers should experience what Nicole Brown Simpson did.' Nolan had sent this email to Mr. Johnson, who then circulated the evaluation to several other Jackson Hewitt managers and supervisors."

According to the lawsuit when Myers complained to Johnson of this email and of the allegations of sexual harassment, Johnson made the comment about "mak(ing) herself feel better by performing oral sex on him." Myers claims she was constructively discharged.

June 2, 2009

Drugstore Chain Settles Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit for $240,000

Duane Reade with more than 200 drugstores in the New York area, agreed to pay $240,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging a pattern of sexual harassment and retaliation at one of its Bronx stores. According to the lawsuit employees faced sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination and employees who complained and filed discrimination charges were retaliated against by being subjected to further harassment by supervisors.

The lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan after the commission tried to reach a voluntary settlement with Duane Reade. “This settlement achieves the EEOC's objectives by providing appropriate relief to the victims of sexual harassment while implementing appropriate measures to prevent this kind of violation in the future,” said Spencer H. Lewis, director of the commission’s New York district office. In addition to money damages, the suit had sought improvements in training and other policies.

“The store manager, Madiaw Diaw, frequently made vulgar remarks about women’s private parts, sexually propositioned female employees, made lewd comments about their pregnancies and bodies, assigned unfavorable job duties to pregnant employees and repeatedly grabbed female employees, including grabbing their buttocks,” the EEOC said in a statement.

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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.

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May 22, 2009

Former Dean Awarded $5 Million in Sexual Harassment Case

A federal jury awarded former dean of students Cheryl Farb $5 million after finding that she was fired in May 2006 in retaliation for filing a formal complaint against the then principal, James Brown. Farb claimed Brown used sexist language in front of female staff and commented on students' bodies. Additionally a witness testified that Brown used a sexist slur and threatened to have Farb fired when he was told she had filed the complaint alleging sexual harassment.

The jury found the Baldwin Board of Education liable for intentionally inflicting emotional distress on Cheryl Farb, the middle school's former dean of students, who had claimed she was a victim of sexual harassment and gender and racial discrimination. The Baldwin Board of Education, which, after an internal investigation, determined that Farb's claims were unsubstantiated, was found guilty of retaliation, for terminating her.

"Farb said she was appalled that Brown is still employed by the district."

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May 15, 2009

Illinois Rescue Squad Sued for Retaliation and Discrimination

Former paramedic Dawn Reid is suing the district, including Chief Barry Beckwith, claiming retaliation and discrimination. She alleges that male employees were treated more favorably than female employees continually throughout 2007 and 2008. The lawsuit also alleges that female employees were referred to as “broads” or F*** broads,” among other allegations.

Reid was suspended and fired from her job in January 2008 without any formal reason, which is the basis for the retaliation claim. Beckwith was suspended with pay for six days in March, pending an investigation by the Rescue Squad District’s board of trustees.

Former Deputy Chief Todd Jones also is suing the district for allegedly being demoted after he complained about the discrimination in early 2008. According to the lawsuit, a demotion to the position of emergency medical technician was ordered after Beckwith had found out that Jones consulted with a lawyer about filing a claim for retaliation.

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May 13, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Yellow Pages

A Valley Yellow Pages employee, Lori Gardner, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her supervisor David Golla, alleging that he repeatedly asked her to take photos of her breasts in order to leave work early and talked about what it would be like to have sex with other employees. The lawsuit against employee David Golla and AGI Publishing Inc., which publishes Valley Yellow Pages, alleges sexual harassment, discrimination in employment and retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.

According to papers filed in the lawsuit, Gardner, an account executive alleges Golla, her supervisor, created a hostile working environment by repeatedly commenting about her breasts throughout the day for months. Gardner also alleges that Golla tried to kiss her and reached into her blouse and grabbed her breast.

“He would regularly comment on the bodies of women, making statements like ‘Look at the udders on that one’ or ‘Look at those, nice …’ ” according to the lawsuit.

Gardner also alleges that when she resisted Golla’s advances, he threatened to take her job away, threw materials on the desk and spoke harshly to her. Gardner repeatedly reported the sexual harassment but nothing of substance was done to stop it according to the lawsuit.


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May 8, 2009

Ex-Long Island Teacher Awarded $5M In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A former school official of the Long Island school district, Cheryl Farb was awarded $5 million in a sexual harassment lawsuit. Farb was fired in 2004 after complaining that a middle school principal, Brown, used sexist and derogatory language toward her The former dean of students, Farb was choked up with emotion, recalling being fired from her job at the Baldwin Middle School.

"You need to stand up for what you believe in and what's right," Farb said.

Farb sued the principal and Baldwin School District in federal court, and a jury ruled Thursday that she was the victim of retaliation and fired because she lodged complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment. Brown, who remains on the job, was ordered to pay $1 million; the school district will pay the remaining $4 million.

"It only took this jury one hour and 20 minutes to come back with an award of $5 million," Farb's attorney, Rick Ostrove, said.

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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.

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April 27, 2009

Tompkins County Sheriff Peter Meskill's Secretary Alleges Sexual Harassment, Racial and Gender Discrimination

Robin Korherr filed a complaint Sept. 12, 2007, with the Division of Human Rights, alleging sexual harassment, gender discrimination, racial discrimination and retaliation. The Division of Human Rights later found probable cause in the case. Korherr worked June 2003 to August 2007 at the sheriff's office as Sheriff Meskill's confidential secretary. Korherr, also a member of Ithaca Common Council representing the city's Fifth Ward, alleges sexual harassment and retaliation from April 2005 to August 2007.

Korherr claims the sexual harassment began in 2005 when she was going through a divorce. Korherr says on several occasions, Meskill tried to kiss and grope her. Korherr testified that she approached her boss numerous times to rectify the situation and the sheriff would apologize initially, but become aggressive again and continued with the alleged behavior through his re-election in 2006. She also claims she received dozens of drunken phone calls from him.

Korherr says Meskill made it impossible for her to work by taking away her privileges and enforcing new rules and believes it was retaliation, saying it was because "I wouldn't sleep with him."


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 23, 2009

Waterford Township Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $325,000

Penny Jo Dye, a former information systems clerk and steno clerk for the Waterford Township alleged in her lawsuit that she became the subject of inflamed, derogatory and degrading comments of a sexual nature after she gave a statement supporting a co-worker who had also made claims of sexual harassment against the department. Dye and her attorney will be paid a total of $325,000 in exchange for dismissing the lawsuit.

Dye made a verbal complaint of sexual harassment to her supervisor per the police department's sexual harassment policy. A written complaint reportedly was filed with the township's director of fiscal and human resources.The lawsuit claimed Dye was then aggressively retaliated against by the township and the police department.

The lawsuit alleged the retaliation included removing Dye's job duties, removing her from e-mail distribution lists, withholding training, removing her ability to use flex time, initiating and continuing ridiculous and unjustified internal investigations to discipline her, relegating her to a corner and other demeaning treatment and firing her.

April 22, 2009

Male Nurse Alleges Sexual Harassment in Markleysburg

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, Roy E. Dreshman Jr., 55, of Munhall, Allegheny County, alleges the sexual harassment began two months after he was hired as a nurse at Henry Clay Villa in Markleysburg in 1997. He alleges he was continuously propositioned, referred to as a "pretty boy" and subjected to unsolicited touching until he was terminated in 2008. Dreshman, a former stripper, indicated he told no one of his work as a stripper when he was hired, but it was made public when two co-workers recognized him. After that revelation, employees asked for lap dances, and some employees passed around photos of Dreshman as a dancer.

Dreshman alleged management retaliated against him when he complained, instead of initiating an investigation. The retaliation escalated when he threatened to file the EEOC complaint, ultimately resulting in his termination. Dreshman is seeking back pay, compensation for lost benefits and compensatory damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress.

"Residents made comments like: 'Oh, my gosh, you are one of them go-go boys,'" wrote Dreshman in the EEOC complaint.
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 19, 2009

Nordstrom Pays $292,500 To Settle EEOC Discrimination Lawsuit

Nordstrom, Inc. will pay $292,500 to 10 former employees and furnish other remedial measures to settle a harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC had alleged that the department store manager harassed Hispanic and black employees based on their national origin, engaged in racial discrimination and retaliated against those who complained about the harassment.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, an alterations department manager at Nordstrom complained that she "hate[d] Hispanics," and that Hispanics were "lazy" and "ignorant." Hispanic tailors were chastised by the alterations manager for speaking to each other in Spanish. The same manager made other derogatory remarks such as "I don't like blacks" and "you're black, you stink." These types of comments are a clear violation of federal law and will always subject a company to liability. Harassment based on national origin, race, and color violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"Employers must act swiftly to correct harassment and prevent abusive conduct," said EEOC Regional Attorney Nora E. Curtin. "Instead of dealing with the despicable racial and ethnic comments, Nordstrom management allowed the harasser to retaliate against the employees for complaining."

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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 11, 2009

Cracker Barrel Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With EEOC for $255,000

Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores, Inc. will pay $255,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit which was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit alleged Cracker Barrel allowed its general manager, managers, and other male employees to subject a class of women at its Cedar Bluff, Tenn., location to sexual harassment and retaliated. According to the EEOC the general managers, other managers and male employees made repeated and unwanted sexual jokes, and lewd remarks. The women complained to the managers and Cracker Barrel's 800 number complaint line but the company failed to take action to stop the harassment, according to the EEOC. As a result of complaining about the sexual harassment, the managers moved the complaining women to areas of the restaurant where tips were low in retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment.

Part of the settlement requires the company to conduct annual training on sexual harassment and retaliation for all employees at the restaurant for three years. Cracker Barrel must also maintain and report complaints of harassment received for three years and post its sexual harassment policy, including its 800 hotline number for reporting such claims according to the Tennessean.com

Cracker Barrel spokeswoman Julie Davis said the restaurant chain decided to settle the situation to maintain a good working relationship with the EEOC.

"Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and the EEOC share the same goal in this matter: a workplace that is free of harassment," Davis said

Under federal law (Title VII), retaliation occurs when an employee is fired or has his/her terms and conditions of work changed as a result of making a formal complaint of discrimination. In this case moving the women to areas of the restaurant where tips were low was a change of the working condition.

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 7, 2009

Female at Dallas Fire-Rescue files EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Leanne Siri the highest-ranking civilian woman at Dallas Fire-Rescue ("DFR") filed a federal lawsuit with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging that she was demoted recently after complaining about lewd e-mails and sexual harassment from higher-ups.
Attorney Aaron Ramirez is representing another woman at DFR who filed a similar lawsuit saying a superior "...would loudly carry on all sorts of graphic and inappropriate sexual conversations with anyone who would listen." "I don't think it's isolated at all,” said Ramirez. “We have three clients currently right now. I know there's a fourth one that came out yesterday. We've talked to at least five or six other women."

Ramirez said another female firefighter he represents filed an EEOC complaint alleging men urinated on her bedding and placed straight pins in it.
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.


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March 29, 2009

Wheeler Construction Settles EEOC Lawsuit Based on Retaliation and National Origin For $325,000

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC)' settled its lawsuit with Wheeler Construction, Inc., a Phoenix-based construction company for $325,000 and other relief on behalf of Mexican workers. The lawsuit was based on discrimination because of national origin, harassment and retaliation.

The EEOC’s complaint alleged that employees Leonard Lopez and Juan Campos were subjected to harassment based on their national origin (Mexican) and retaliation for complaining about it. The harassment included comments by a supervisor referring to employees as “wetbacks” and “s--cs” and telling Latino employees to “go back to Mexico.” Lopez was born and raised in Glendale, Ariz., and had 20 years of service with Wheeler Construction at the time of the harassment. When Lopez complained to management about the harassment he was fired.

Campos also attempted to complain about the harassment and Wheeler failed to take any action to address it. After an EEOC investigation, the agency found that two additional employees alerted management of the discrimination and no action was taken.

Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the Phoenix District Office, said, “The fact that these employees work at a construction site is no excuse for the ethnic slurs that were used against Mr. Lopez and Mr. Campos.
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.

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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.

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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 22, 2009

Seattle court sexual harassment case settled for $135,000

A former Seattle Municipal Court worker is getting $135,000 to settle a sexual harassment case involving a judge. According to the settlement agreement half the money will be paid by the taxpayers and half by Judge Ron A. Mamiya. The former courthouse worker is not identified in court documents and it appears the relationship started as a consensual affair last year. The former staff member, a mother of two, says Mamiya repeatedly made unwanted advances after they agreed to break off the affair-which constituted a hostile work environment.

In February 2008, the two began a sexual relationship, meeting at a hotel in Seattle and another hotel near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, she said. He also visited her in her court office in the late afternoon and would kiss her and touch her sexually. Mamiya became jealous when he saw her talking to other men at work according to the Seattle Times.

Mamiya has been a Municipal Court judge since 1981. He released a statement acknowledging what he calls "my horrible lapse in judgment."

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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 16, 2009

Age Discrimination Claims Highest In History According To The EEOC

Discrimination claims filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") last year rose to the highest in the agency’s 44-year history. Many believe this is a result of last years Supreme Court ruling that changed the way complaints may be filed. The EEOC said 95,402 claims were filed during 2008 which represented a 15 percent increase from 2007. Of the EEOC's total claims more than 25 percent contained an allegation of age discrimination while more than 34 percent included complaints of retaliation.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that workers need not file a formal complaint with the EEOC before suing an employer for age discrimination. The EEOC said it recovered $376 million for claimants last year as it filed 290 new lawsuits and resolved 339 suits and 81,081 non-litigation claims.

“Older workers generally cost more,” consequently, they’ve become job-cut targets, said the lawyer, a principal of Hannafan & Hannafan Ltd. “The companies are probably discriminating.”

Filing a discrimination claim can be a job-defense tactic, Sternberg, a partner at St. Louis-based Thompson Coburn LLP, said. “The law doesn’t have a fairness requirement, one has to translate that feeling of unfairness to unfairness based on a protected characteristic,” such as age reports bloomberg.com

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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 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.


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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 5, 2009

Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Lodge

Five former employees of Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Lodge in Utica Illinois, Leno Campbell, Suzanne Czarnecki, Michael DeLap, Mark Low and Lisa Meyers filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming sexual harassment, racial discrimination and gender discrimination. The lodge's owners are Joseph Hook, Keith and Susan Wolick. The lawsuit also alleges the owners fostered an environment in which sexual harassment of female employees by the male owners was common.

Campbell, an african-american, was the lodge's director of housekeeping and is claiming the owners discriminated against him because of his race including that Wolick often made remarks critical of blacks to other employees and to Campbell himself. Czarnecki the former resort's revenue manager, and Meyers a former reservationist are claiming they were discriminated against because they were women and also allege Hook made sexual remarks and committed assault and battery against them, in that he made physical contact of a sexual nature without their consent.


The resorts attorney Mike Moody had this to say about the lawsuit:

"After an exhaustive investigation by the (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in which Grand Bear cooperated and steadfastly defended against these false charges, the EEOC terminated its investigation and filed no charges against Grand Bear. Grand Bear has every confidence that it will be vindicated in a court of law and denies that it discriminated against anyone in any way."

However, Plaintiff's attorney Erika Pedersen responded by stating:

““The EEOC terminated its investigation of the claims against Grand Bear only because we, the plaintiffs, asked it to. We wanted to advance the litigation to federal court so we asked the EEOC to issue our clients their Notices of Right to Sue, which it is obligated to do. The EEOC made no finding either way and nothing about that process can or should be interpreted as a reflection on the merits of the claims or defenses. The allegations are very disturbing and serve as a reminder that sexual and racial harassment are still significant problems for many employees in this country. Each of our clients hopes that by bringing these claims, the working environment becomes better for current and future employees of Grand Bear and elsewhere.”

By way of background victims of discrimination must first file with the EEOC before they can file in court. In this case it was the intention of the Plaintiffs to proceed to federal court rather than wait for the EEOC to complete its investigation, which can take years. The Plaintiffs fulfilled their obligation by filing charges first with the EEOC and once they exhausted the administrative process, proceeded to court by filing their lawsuit.

Continue reading "Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Lodge " »

March 3, 2009

Athletic Club Settled Settle Harassment Lawsuit For $161,000

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleged that Big Vanilla Athletic Club violated federal law specifically the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by sexually harassing several female employees at several of the company's Maryland locations. According to the lawsuit the women were subjected to repeated and unwanted sexually offensive remarks and sexual advances as well as retaliation for filing their sexual harassment complaints with the EEOC.

As part of the settlement, Big Vanilla Athletic Club must train current and future managers on anti-discrimination laws and post notices stating its commitment to maintaining an environment free of sexual harassment and retaliation.

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 27, 2009

Retaliation Claims With The EEOC Growing

According to government statistics, in the last ten years the number of retaliation charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") have increased by 33%, while other charges filed with the EEOC have only increased 2.5%. Under federal law (Title VII), retaliation occurs when an employee is fired or has his/her terms and conditions of work changed as a result of making a formal complaint of discrimination. Title VII also protects those individuals who testify, assist or participate in an investigation of illegal activity or those who oppose unlawful employment practices.

In a recent United States Supreme Court case, CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphries, 128 S. Ct. 1951 (2008), an employee alleged he was terminated for complaining to management that a black co-worker had been fired for racial reasons which amounted to racial discrimination. The Court concluded 7-2 that if this allegation were true it was actionable and that retaliation claims are included under 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

The important point in this case is that when filing a Title VII race discrimination charge, always include a retaliation charge as well because even if the race discrimination charge is unsuccessful, the retaliation charge may succeed and if it does, there will not be any caps on the liability to the employer.

February 24, 2009

Trash Removal Company Pays $475,000 to Settle EEOC Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

Robertson Sanitation, a Phoenix-based trash hauling, recycling and disposal company that operates in Georgia, will pay $475,000 to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

According to the lawsuit, Jeanine Moore applied for a truck driver position with Robertson at its Winder, Georgia facility in August 2005, was never interviewed or hired even though she was more qualified than a number of male applicants who were hired. A review of the job applications at that location between January 2005 and September 2006 showed that some of the men hired were less qualified than Moore, including six males who lacked Robertson's minimum qualifications for the truck driver position. The EEOC's investigation revealed a class of similarly qualified women who, like Moore, were also rejected despite their qualifications.

The consent decree (the term used when the EEOC settles a lawsuit) provides $475,000 in monetary relief to the class of qualified female applicants who were discriminatorily rejected for employment between January 1, 2005 and October 31, 2006. Moore will receive $70,000 in damages, while the remaining funds will be distributed among the other qualified claimants whose eligibility will be determined by a procedure set forth in the decree.

Additionally the company agreed to exercise good faith in offering employment to qualified female applicants for residential, commercial, industrial and roll-off truck driver positions at the Winder and Austell facilities and the company is also required to submit a report each year identifying the name, sex and qualifications of all qualified applicants for truck driver positions, the persons offered positions, and the persons hired.

February 23, 2009

Nurse Awarded $15 Million in Sexual Harassment Case

Janet Bianco, 55, a nurse at New Yorks Flushing Hospital said she suffered prolonged torment at the hands of Dr. Matthew Miller, ending when he sexually assaulted her at Flushing Hospital in 2001. A jury awarded her $15 million after finding that hospital leadership allowed Dr. Miller who had a history of sexual harassment to continuously harass Bianco. This was the largest sexual harassment award ever in New York.

According to the testimony, Dr. Miller forcibly grabbed Bianco at a cardiac unit nursing station and tried to force his tongue down her throat while the hospital's medical director, Dr. Peter Barra, saw the attack but did nothing to intervene or discipline Dr. Miller. The medical directors reluctance to intervene is a form of retaliation. In another instance Dr. Miller chased Bianco through the halls until he cornered her in a room with two heavily sedated patients, where he aggressively groped her below the waist.

"I only hope out of this whole thing that people become aware. I think that people take it lightly when you say sexual harassment. They don't understand how it affects your life, not only in your job, but in your home, with your friends," Bianco said.

Following Miller's attack on Bianco, the misconduct board from the Office of Professional Medical Conduct suspended Millers license for two months and slapped him with another three years' probation. Miller's admitting privileges at Flushing Hospital were also withdrawn.

Continue reading "Nurse Awarded $15 Million in Sexual Harassment Case" »

February 22, 2009

Former Female Police Officer Settles With City On Case Involving Sexual Harassment, Gender Discrimination and Retaliation

Former police Sgt. April Begin, who filed a lawsuit against the city in 2007 in which she alleged her fellow officers made sexual remarks and refused to back her up in dangerous situations because they resented working with a woman was settled with the city of Dearborn. The lawsuit was based on sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation. As part of the settlement she will receive a pension of $57,000 a year for life with full medical benefits, $60,000 in retroactive pension benefits dating to April when she was relieved of her duties without pay, plus $60,000 cash.

The city of Dearborn, which was named as the primary defendant in each of the cases maintained its actions in regards to the officers were lawful and nondiscriminatory but claims it settlemented all three cases because it was in the best interest of the city and police department citing the cost of settling the cases on the terms agreed to by the parties was less than the cost of moving forward with the litigation. Additionally, two of the defenses key witnesses died before trial and that weakened the defense planned by the city.

"It's not sexual that way, like sleep with me or anything like that, it's just that I'm the weakest link because I'm a female kind of thing," Begin said

Continue reading "Former Female Police Officer Settles With City On Case Involving Sexual Harassment, Gender Discrimination and Retaliation" »

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 20, 2009

Flight Attendant Loses Sexual Harassment Case

According to the lawsuit Captain Ed Murray, 63, sent an explicit text to 29-year-old Rachel Quinn after they travelled together on a business trip. Quinn said she was reading a book in her hotel when she received the message in which Murray said:

"I cannot wait for you to go down on me."
Murray denied making the comment, insisting he never spent time with Quinn while they were working together.

Quinn said she was unfairly fired from her job with the private charter jet company Gama and that she had been a victim of sexual harassment and retaliation. Tribunal chairman Keith Bryant rejected both of Quinn's claims saying the court could not consider the sexual harassment claim because it had been made more than three months after the alleged incidents.

This was a United Kingdom case, in Illinois an employee has 180 days to file a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights or 300 days to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As you can see from the case above, waiting too long can be fatal to a good 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.

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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.

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February 5, 2009

Illinois Supreme Court Addresses Retaliatory Discharge Claim

The Illinois Supreme Court in Blount v. Stroud addressed the issue of whether or not Illinois courts have jurisdiction to hear claims brought under the Federal Civil Rights Act. In that case the Court held that employees are not required to file a claim with the Illinois Human Rights Commission even if the alleged conduct also violates provisions of the Illinois Human Rights Act. In this case the cause of action was based on retaliation.

Additionally, a claim by a former employee that she was fired for refusing to commit perjury
states a cause of action for retaliatory discharge under Illinois law. The Court went on to say that because a jury found for the plaintiff on a 42 U.S.C. 1981 claim and awarded damages in excess of $3,000,000, the trial court was justified in awarding attorneys’ fees under federal law in the amount of $1,182,832--basing their decision on the fact that the plaintiff prevailed on her claim.

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 28, 2009

Copia Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $250,000

Former Copia employee Crystal Tynan alleged that she had been sexually harassed by Copia’s former Director of Operations Art Ferretti and filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in Napa County Superior Court. Tynan simultaneously filed an arbitration claim, Tynan v. Copia, et al 26-40825 making the same allegations. Tynan and Copia agreed to settle the lawsuit for $250,000, with Copia making no admission of liability.

To throw a monkey wrench into the settlement, Copia filed for protection under Bankruptcy two weeks after the settlement and therefore the settlement was on hold pending approval of the Bankruptcy court. Yesterday U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Alan Jaroslovsky ruled that Copia’s liability insurance company can pay the $250,000 settlement ending the sexual harassment lawsuit.

Copia was a non-profit discovery center whose mission was to explore, celebrate and share the many pleasures and benefits of wine, its relationship to food and its significance to our culture. Copia opened in 2001 and closed in November 2008 with debt of nearly $80 million.

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January 27, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court Protects Sexual Harassment Witness From Retaliation

Vicky Crawford, who testified in her employer’s internal investigation of a sexual harassment charge is protected against retaliation under a federal civil rights law, the Supreme Court ruled in Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County Tennessee a 9-0 decision. Crawford had been a payroll coordinator for more than 30 years for the public school system in Nashville and Davidson County in Tennessee. In 2002, several female employees complained of sexual harassment by Hughes,the school district's employee relations director. The assistant director of human resources began an investigation and interviewed several employees who worked with Hughes, including Crawford. Crawford told the assistant human resources director that Hughes asked to see her breasts on numerous occasions, grabbed his genitals in front of her and once pulled her head toward his crotch.

The investigation did not result in any disciplinary action against Hughes. A few months after taking part in the investigation, Crawford was suspended and then fired. Two other women who complained about sexual harassment by Hughes also were fired. This constituted retaliation according to the lawsuit.


Supreme Court Justice David Souter, writing for his colleagues, argued that the lower courts erred in ruling that Crawford was not protected because she did not “oppose” Hughes’ harassment, as her colleague who formally filed the charge did. Rather, the courts said Crawford was just answering questions

Souter said Crawford was covered by the law because she had actively opposed the sexually obnoxious behavior by Hughes toward her, a decision that allows her lawsuit to go forward even though she didn't make the initial sexual harassment complaint.

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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 25, 2009

Update: Two Women Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $495,000

A lawsuit reported in this Blog on December 28,2008 has an update. Two women, Cindy Stankoski and Vanessa Stoud who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the former attorney general agreed to accept $247,500 each, or $495,000 total to settle their sexual harassment lawsuit. As a condition of the settlment both agreed to resign from the Attorney General's office.

Stout and Stankoski filed complaints against a manager hand-picked by former attorney general Marc Dann, alleging sexual harassment. An internal investigation substantiated the complaints and prompted the firing of two employees, the forced resignation of a third and a legislated investigation by the state's inspector general which resulted in the settlement. The two women initially sought more than $400,000 each to settle the lawsuit but all parties believe the settlement is fair and puts to rest a sad chapter at the attorney generals office.

Continue reading "Update: Two Women Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $495,000" »

January 24, 2009

Tacoma Department of Labor & Industries Settles Sexual Harassment Case for $800,000

The state of Washington agreed to pay $800,000 to three women to settle a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit against the Department of Labor and Industries. Two of the women, Linda Bang and Janis Fleming, remain at the office. The third, Mercy Fernandez-Figueroa, left the job because of the stress of the harassment. According to the lawsuit Phillip Scott, a co-worker of the women, and Carter Mitchell, a supervisor, harassed and intimidated the women. In addition their manager, Gail Hughes, retaliated against the women according to the lawsuit. The three women reported their concerns to upper management and then Hughes their manager branded them as troublemakers, took away their job privileges, and criticized job performance despite no change in performance according to the News Tribune.

In the lawsuit the women claim the harassment began with Scott and Mitchell making sexual comments, sexual gestures and giving disparate treatment to them. The lawsuit claims Mitchell made unwanted contact with Fernandez-Figueroa as he would rub his genitalia on her leg during an unwanted hug and dry-humped her chair while she sat in it. Additionally, Fernandez-Figueroa reported an e-mail from an unnamed co-worker denigrating her ethnic background, and when she complained to management was told she had to expect that because she was the office’s token Hispanic--which would constitute racial discrimination.

Continue reading "Tacoma Department of Labor & Industries Settles Sexual Harassment Case for $800,000" »

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 14, 2009

Illinois Sexual Harassment Case Settles For $462,500 Against Chicago Dentist

The Chicago office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") had filed a civil lawsuit against dentist James L. Orrington in September 2007, claiming he had discriminated against 18 employees by subjecting them to sexual propositions, comments and improper touching, which amounted to sexual harassment. Orrington agreed to pay $462,500 to settle the lawsuit which claims he violated discrimination laws by sexually harassing workers and by forcing employees who wanted to keep their jobs to submit to indoctrination in the tenets of Scientology.

The lawsuit also claims Orrington violated employee civil-rights law by firing or taking other retaliatory actions against some employees who had complained about his behavior. Retaliation occurs when an employee is fired or has his terms and conditions of work changed as a result of making a formal complaint of discrimination. Additionally, federal law also protects those individuals who testify, assist or participate in an investigation of illegal activity or those who oppose unlawful employment practice.

A result of settling the lawsuit a consent decree was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and calls for Orrington to pay $462,500 to the workers involved and enjoins him from further sexual or religious workplace discrimination. In the consent decree Orrington does not admit any admission of guilt however.

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.

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January 11, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settled For $325,000

A sexual harassment lawsuit has been settled between the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and defendants AmerTac Holding and American Tack & Hardware but the settlement involves no admission of guilt by the companies. The suit was filed by the EEOC in 2003 on behalf of 13 women and claimed that John Di Stefano, vice president of information technology at AmerTac, exposed female workers to pornographic images on his computer on a daily basis and called them derogatory names.

The lawsuit was initially filed by a pair of female employees after their claims of sexual harassment underwent a mandatory review by the EEOC, which enforces workplace anti-discrimination laws. According to the lawsuit Di Stefano and another company executive allegedly retaliated against the women for complaining about the sexual harassment. The EEOC reviewed the case and were shocked by what was presented to them.

The settlement between the EEOC and defendants AmerTac Holding and American Tack & Hardware involves no admission of guilt by the companies, but requires them to provide anti-discrimination training and information to employees on sexual harassment in addition to the monetary settlement of $325,000.

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