June 17, 2012

Hobson Air Conditioning Pays $37,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Hobson Air Conditioning Settles a sexual harassment lawsuit for $37,500. According to published accounts the only female employee Misty Kratky was subjected to frequently made sexual propositions by her manager. The manager allegedly asked her to show him her breasts and touched her inappropriately. This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and resulted in the filing of a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

After the sexual harassment began, she complained to management but nothing was done to stop it. The company should have taken the complaint in a more serious fashion and stopped the harassment. As a result, the company will now have this negative publicity and has paid a considerable amount of money. My Chicago offices sees more and more cases of employers who refuse to stop sexual harassment and as a result have complaints filed against them. The proper training and education of employees can go a long way toward stamping out sexual harassment complaints.

June 16, 2012

Hal Leonard Publishing Co. Pays $150,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Hal Leonard Publishing Co. settled a sexual harassment class action lawsuit for $150,000. According to published accounts the lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC alleged a class of women had to endure unwanted grabbing, squeezing and sexual innuendo--all of which amount to sexual harassment. The women complained to management about the sexual harassment but management refused to stop it. An intervention at this point would have saved the women a great deal of grief and saved the company some serious money.

In addition to paying the women $150,000 the company agreed to a three-year consent decree under which it apologized to the former employee who filed the original discrimination charge. The company also has to undergo training and will be under the watchful eye of the EEOC. It is always best to control your employees and take complaints of discrimination seriously. In this case the company could have avoided all of this by investigating the complaints and taking the appropriate action.

June 14, 2012

Whirlpool Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $1 Million

Whirlpool Corporation settled a sexual harassment and racial discrimination lawsuit for $1 million. The case was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Whirlpool violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it did nothing to stop a white male co-worker from harassing an African-American female employee because of her race and gender. The abuse lasted for two months and escalated when the co-worker physically assaulted the black employee and inflicted serious permanent injuries.

At trial is was proven that the black employee repeatedly reported offensive verbal conduct and gestures by the co-worker to Whirlpool management before she was violently assaulted. The troubling part was the company did not do any corrective action. This type of behavior by the employee and company is unacceptable. You can see how much money this cost the company and I am sure they will put mechanisms in place to ensure this doesn't happen again.

“Employers have a responsibility to address and remedy race and sex harassment in the workplace,” said EEOC attorney P. David Lopez
June 11, 2012

Finding Substantial Evidence In A Sexual Harassment Case

My Chicago office gets many calls about what is required for the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") to get to a finding of substantial evidence in a sexual harassment case. Well the short answer is it depends on who your investigator is. All investigators are suppose to follow the Cooper v. Salazar injunction but many don't. I am not sure why but it is what it is. Under Cooper v. Salazar, the investigator cannot make a credibility determination of the witnesses. That means if you said it happened it happened. But sadly many investigators don't do this.

This shows how important it is to have an experienced employment attorney at your side. You need someone who can point out during a request for review how incorrect the lack of substantial evidence was. Sexual harassment cases usuallly turn on the credibility of the witness and therefore it is very important for you to make sure you have someone with experience on your side.

June 3, 2012

What Is A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

My Chicago offices gets many calls regarding what people believe is a hostile work environment in Chicago. I spend a great deal of time explaining what the legal definition is. There is no general harassment law in Illinois. Therefore in order for there to be a hostile work environment, there must be some underlying claim of discrimination. So for example, if you are being sexually harassed by your boss at work, that could create a hostile work environment. The reason is sexual harassment would make you feel uneasy and would make coming to work and working difficult. The main point is that there is an underlying type of discrimination, and therefore the creation of the hostile work environment.

If you are the victim of discrimination in Chicago you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). If you do file with the IDHR, an employment lawyer can help walk you through the process and help you put your best case forward. Remember, if there is no underlying claim of discrimination, there can't be a hostile work environment in Chicago.

June 1, 2012

Is Flirting At Work Sexual Harassment?

So my Chicago office has been getting inquiries about whether or not flirting at work is sexual harassment in Illinois. They answer is maybe. First it would depend on who is doing the flirting. If your boss if flirting with you there is strict liability on the company. The reason is simple. The boss has too much power over you and it would put you in a position of either flirting back to satisfy him or to risk not flirting back and then facing his rath from being rejected. Either way, none of this is work related and it would constitute sexual harassment in Illinois in my opinion. On the other hand if it is a co-worker and you are flirting back and forth, that would not be sexual harassment because it would not be unwanted. If it is a co-worker and you don't flirt back and forth, then the company would only have liability once your tell the company and they fail to take any corrective action.

So what are you suppose to do if this happens? Call my office and we will file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the complaint and if they find substantial evidence of the sexual harassment they will issue a report and allow us to file directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial. This is where you can be awarded many things including lost wages, attorney fees, and money for emotional distress and other things.

May 29, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Lawsuits By Secretaries

My Chicago offices gets many calls from administrative assistants and secretaries who are subjected to sexual harassment by their bosses. They usually want to know what their rights are and what they can do. First, try and gather as much evidence as possible regarding the sexual harassment. This would include text messages, voice messages and emails. Also, if there are witnesses to the incidents, make a note of the persons name, the date and what occurred. If you don't make a note it will be hard to recall the exact details which could hurt your case. So if you do all of this and you have some evidence what should you do next?

The short answer is call my Chicago office and we can discuss the facts and then file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (""IDHR"). The IDHR is mandated under law to complete an investigation into any discrimination within one-year. This allows the case to move quickly through the system and usually results in settlement during that time. If the case isn't settled, and substantial evidence is found, we can file for trial at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). This allows for maximum pressure on the other side to settle the case.

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 19, 2012

Sexual Harassment At A Grocery Store

My Chicago office has been getting a number of calls from people who have been sexually harassed while shopping. The sexual harassment has been from employees of the store. The question they ask me is can they file a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The short answer is yes they can. In Illinois you are suppose to be free from discrimination and sexual harassment in public facilities. Therefore a business cannot discriminate against you while you are a customer.

I notice that most of the sexual harassment involving shopping centers and customers are being perpetrated by management. For some reason managers believe they can hit on the women while they shop. This is a very big mistake and will end up costing the company money. It is very important for you to consult with a discrimination lawyer if you believe you have been victimized while shopping in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois.

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 14, 2012

Text Messages Can Help In A Sexual Harassment Case

So your boss has been making comments to you that are not work related. He seems to ask a great deal about what you do after work. He is now starting to text you after work and the text messages indicate he wants some sort of relationship. What should you do? My Chicago office is seeing a large number of sexual harassment cases involving text messages. In Illinois there is strict liability on a company if a supervisor engages in sexual harassment. If your boss is texting you about personal activity and wants a relationship outside of work, this would be sexual harassment.

When you have been the victim of sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination in Chicago, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). If you file with the IDHR they are mandated by law to complete an investigation within 365 days. This is good news because it means the case will be moved along rather quickly. I think the IDHR does a very good job at investigating cases in Chicago. The bottom line is save your text messages and see an employment lawyer at once if your boss is hitting on you.

May 4, 2012

Mediation At The Illinois Department of Human Rights

My Chicago office often gets calls regarding mediation at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). So what is mediation and is it a good thing? At the IDHR there is a special unit that tries to resolve claims before they get investigated. In short, they try to resolve matters before the IDHR or the attorneys spend too much time and money on them. Mediation in theory is a good approach to settling cases. The issue I have with the IDHR mediation unit is they require you to sign an extension before they will mediate the case. By law the IDHR must complete an investigation within 365 days from the date a charge is perfected. When you agree to mediate a case, the investigation process stops but not the period of time given to investigate the case. I can see the reason why the IDHR wants you to sign the extension, I just don't like to sign them. I also don't like to engage in mediation unless the parties are trying to settle the case and are stuck on numbers. For example if we are offering to settle for $60,000 and they offer $10,000 and we keep negotiating and we are now at $40,000 and they are at $25,000 and neither party will budge, mediation may be helpful to get both parties to move off their number and settle. I don't mediate however is the other side isn't offering any money or isn't negotiating in good faith.

If you do sign the extension what can you expect at mediation? Well the mediation unit has some great mediators at the IDHR. They act as a neutral party and try to point out the strengths and weaknesses to each party as the parties present their positions. One requirement for mediation is that each party bring someone who is authorized to settle the case. So for example in a sexual harassment case against a company, the company would have to bring someone to mediation that would be able to bind the company to an amount agreed upon. It isn't good enough to just bring an attorney and someone from human resources, unless the human resource person is authorized to settle on behalf of the company. The important point to remember is that the purpose of mediation is to settle the case. So go with an open mind and be willing to compromise. Even if mediation is unsuccessful, both parties get a better understanding of the case which is always a good thing.

May 3, 2012

Chicago Waitresses Subjected To Sexual Harassment

There has been a growing trend in Chicago toward managers and owners subjecting waitresses and other bar and restaurant workers to sexual harassment. Part of the reason may be the type of work atmosphere where liquor and intoxicated people abound. Whatever the reason, engaging in sexual harassment is against the law and will subject the owner to liability under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. An employee who has been subjected to sexual harassment can file a complaint with either the Illniois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I personally prefer to file with the IDHR because they cross-file with the EEOC and they are mandated by law to complete an investigation within one-year. One could also file a complaint with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations ("CCHR"). One big advantage to filing with the CCHR is they can award punitive damages.

So which venue does your sexual harassment case belong in? The short answer is let an experienced employment lawyer evaluate your case and decide for you. There generally isn't a one size fits all strategy. For example if you have very low lost wage damages but the sexual harassment was very tramatizing and obscene perhaps going for punitive damages with the CCHR would be the proper venue. The important thing to remember is there are strict time limits that apply for filing a claim of discrmination. Dont' be one of those people who procrastinate and ends up missing a deadline. The company will have legal advice and people working on their behalf, so should you.

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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 29, 2012

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Knox County Settled For $74,000

The sexual harassment lawsuit filed against former Knox County EMA Director Brian Hess and 16 other Knox County defendants was settled for $74,000. It is unusual to have that many defendants in one lawsuit. What this tells me is there was something bad going on at this place of work. According to published accounts the $74,000 has been awarded to the group of six plaintiffs. An independent investigation revealed that Hess engaged in unprofessional conduct which rose to the level of sexual harassment.

This type of activity seems to be taking place more and more. Men in powerful positions think they can engage in any type of behavior they wish without consequences. And if anyone complains they try to fire them. It is very important that employees realize they have options and don't have to take this type of behavior. I am glad the case settled before trial so both parties can put this behind them. Sexual harassment in the workplace makes things difficult for all involved.

April 27, 2012

Peninsula College Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $55,000

Peninsula College settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $55,000. The lawsuit was filed by former student Bethel Prescott. According to her published documents Prescott alleged that her work study supervisor and chemistry professor, the late Paul Woodson, repeatedly sexually harassed and defamed her. In the lawsuit, Prescott said she needed to take a sequence of chemistry courses that Woodson taught and that her work study was supervised by Woodson. In short Prescott needed to be around Woodson and she had to endure his sexual comments and behavior.

The lawsuit alleged Woodson misused his position of power and authority to make inappropriate sexual and derogatory comments, engage in explicit inappropriate behavior and generally create a hostile work environment against her. Prescott also claimed that the management of the college allowed a hostile work environment to exist. This type of activity will end up costing a college or employer money every time. My Chicago office sees a great deal of sexual harassment in the college setting. Don't let college professors pressure you to have sex.

April 25, 2012

Police Officer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

Officer Wendy Schwartzenberger settles her sexual harassment lawsuit with the Concord Police Department for $150,000. Schwartzenberger is the highest-ranking female officer
and allegedly was the victim of sexual harassment. According to documents which have been made available to the public, she will receive $51,352.70, and her attorneys $98,647.30. You can see how expensive these types of lawsuits can be. This is something that employers should keep in mind. The longer lawsuits drag on the higher the legal fees and many times those legal fees are paid by the employer.

Schwartzenberger's alleged that Lt. Robin Heinemann had made a series of sexually charged comments to her, as well as unwanted physical advances, including hugging and kissing her. Schwartzenberger's is gay and Heinemann allegedly made comments about her sexual orientation and her relationship with her partner. Many times there are multiply categories of discrimination and in this case there were two. You can see how much money it cost an employer when another employee makes stupid comments.

"However, we believe the settlement is in the best interests of all concerned, given the contested nature of the claims, the costs of litigation, and the disruption to staff that trying this case would entail," Coon said.
April 22, 2012

Chicago Constructive Discharge Cases On The Rise

There is good news and bad news regarding the number of employment related constructive discharge cases in Chicago. The number of claims is on the rise which is bad news for employees but good news for employment attorneys. So what is a constructive discharge? If you are being discriminated against or if another employee is being discriminated against and the effect is making work intolerable and you quit--it is a constructive discharge. So for example if you complain about sexual harassment and then nothing changes and the boss is still making inappropriate comments to you, and they only way to escape it is to quit it would be considered a constructive discharge.

Chicago is one of the biggest cities in the country and there is a very large work force. However, many business owners believe that the economy is such that they don't have to take complaints of discrimination seriously. It is very important that you realize you have rights while you are employed. You don't have to be afraid of what the companies human resource department may do to you. My Chicago office handles constructive discharge cases all the time and I am very experienced in it. Remember there is never a fee to discuss your employment issue. Protect yourself while you are employed in Chicago.

April 19, 2012

Burger King Franchise Pays A Whopper To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Kaizen Restaurants, Inc., which operates dozens of Burger King restaurants pays $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of a teenage worker. According to published accounts the teenager got her first job at Burger King and the supervisor began to sexually harass her. The older, married supervisor made unwelcome sexual comments and touched the female teenager. This guy sounds like a real piece of work and I can't believe the company hired such a man.

To make matters worse the supervisor would discuss her virginity, and demand that she have sex with him. You wonder if this manager was actually doing any work while at work. When she rejected his advances he ordered her not to tell management about his behavior. She reported this crazy conduct to management and they refused to intervene and stop it. The supervisor then began to follow her around the store and into the parking lot on breaks. She finally quit because of this hostile work environment. When an employee quits because of discriminatory conduct it is called a constructive discharge. You can see how much money this Burger King franchise had to pay because of the horrible actions of a supervisor. In Illinois there is strict liability on the company if the supervisor engages in sexual harassment.

“What I had to face at work every day was humiliating and wrong,” said the worker, who was 17 years old when she started working there.


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 12, 2012

Are Sexual Comments Enough For Sexual Harassment Complaint In Chicago?

My Chicago offices gets daily calls from people who complain about what they believe are discrimination claims. Many such claims involve a person at work making sexual comments. The question then becomes is an employee or the boss keeps making sexual comments at work is that sexual harassment in Chicago? The short answer is yes. There are two types of sexual harassment. The first is quid quo pro, where the harasser is trying to save sex with you in return for some favor. The second type is called a hostile work environment. Sexual comments would fall into the category of a hostile work environment.

So what do you do if the boss is making these sexual comments on a daily basis? You should contact an employment lawyer and also report this conduct to human resources. Now be aware that human resources may do nothing and the boss may end up engaging in retaliation against you for reporting him. This is why you need to also contact an employment lawyer to ensure your rights are protected. Don't let people get away with making nasty, sexual remarks at work. You have a right to enjoy a hostile free workplace in Illinois.

April 10, 2012

Tips If You Are The Victim of Sexual Harassment In Chicago

So you are working hard and doing a great job at work. You love your job in downtown Chicago and things couldn't be better. But now your boss is getting creepy and you believe engaging in sexual harassment. What should you do? The first thing you should do is make it clear to the boss that you are only interested in a business relationship. The second thing you should do is call my office for some legal advice--which is free. Remember once you complain to human resources about your boss things could get ugly for you. Many times the human resource department will view you as a trouble maker and find a way to minimize your complaint or just take steps to fire you. It is very important for you to document the sexual harsassment as best you can. There are a number of ways you can do this even if the boss is being clever and sexually harassing you one-on-one.

My Chicago offices files complaints of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") on Randolph and LaSalle. However, prior to filing a discrimination complaint with the IDHR, it is important that we try to get as much evidence of the sexual harassment as possible. The evidence could include other people witnessing the harassment, text messages, voice messages, emails or other written documentation. We can also get copies of phone logs to show the dates and times of telephone calls. This is very helpful when you get calls late at night or on weekends and you don't have the type of job that requires those types of off-hour calls. I was say the most important thing to do is ensure you have evidence of the sexual harassment before you complain to human resources. Make sure you know your employment rights before you take the next step.

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 6, 2012

The Cost Of Defending A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit In Chicago

I am a plaintiff's employment law attorney and represent those that are the victims of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination. So how much does it cost a company to defend a claim of sexual harassment? There is no bright line answer to that question. First, the facts and circumstances of each case will dictate how much attorney fees may be. Second, the venue chosen by the plaintiff and her attorney will also impact attorney fees. So for example if you chose federal court there is a better chance attorney fees will be higher than say at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). There are several reasons for this. In federal court, you must be a member of the trial bar along with the general bar in order to take the case to trial. What this translates to is a more senior attorney will probably have to handle the case. This translates to higher hourly rates. Generally speaking, lower level lawyers can take cases to trial at the IHRC whereas a more experienced attorney is needed in federal court.

Another reason for high legal fees in Chicago defending sexual harassment cases is the system defense lawyers have in place. For the most part they charge by the hour. What this means is if they settle the case very quickly, the cut off their own nose so to speak because they end their payday. It is actually to their advantage to have prolonged litigation. They may not like hearing that but it is factually correct. So there isn't much incentive for defense lawyers to settle sexual harassment cases early in the process. On the other hand it makes them rich by dragging cases on for a long period of time. I am claiming they intentionally drag cases on for a long time, but I am just stating the obvious.

April 4, 2012

Standard For A Sexual Harassment Complaint In Chicago

You work in downtown Chicago in the Loop and you love your job. Your work seems to be going rather well and you get great reviews and evaluations. However, there is now a sudden problem. Your boss keeps making semi-sexual comments and seems to be taking a rather personal interest in you. He seems to stop by your desk more than he should, he asks about matters outside of work and his tone is more flirtatious than business. He is now trying to meet you outside of work for pretend business reasons and you don't know what to do. Because he is your boss there is strict liability on the company for sexual harassment if this rises to sexual harassment. These facts may be enough to rise to the level of sexual harassment in Chicago and in the rest of Illinois.

In order to rise to the level of sexual harassment in Illinois under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"), the sexual harassment has to be unwanted and purvasive. That standard is subjective and based on the facts of each individual case. Does the boss have a business reason for his actions? Is he taking similar actions with male employees or other females? Is there a reason he has to see you outside of business or is this just a pretext? If you believe you are the victim of sexual harassment in Chicago, my office can file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Under the Act, the IDHR is tasked with investigating complaints of sexual harassment and other forms of employment law discrimination. It is very important to file right away because there are strict time limits that apply and failure to meet those deadlines can adversely affect your legal rights.

April 3, 2012

Chicago Secretaries Subjected To Sexual Harassment

So you work hard all day as a secretary or administrative assistant and you now have a problem. Your boss has been hitting on you and makes you feel uncomfortable. So what constitutes sexual harassment in Chicago and throughout Illinois? What I just described above would be regarded as sexual harassment in Chicago. Because the boss has power and control over you the standard for sexual harassment is different than if another employee asks you for a date. Just think, if you reject the boss and don't go out with him, you may feel he would treat you different after the rejection. And you may feel compelled to go out with him for fear of making him made. These are the reasons it is sexual harassment if the boss hits on you at work. And the company would have absolute liability if the boss sexually harassed you at work.

So what do you do if this happens to you? After you contact my office we would file a sexual harassment complaint against the boss and your company at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is the investigative agency that is tasked with conducting investigations of violations of the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). Sexual harassment is a violation of the Act and investigation of this violation would fall within the purview of the IDHR. Of course because the IDHR only investigates, they can't award money to the victim of sexual harassment. If you are successful at the IDHR and they issue a finding of substantial evidence, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") and they can award money to you if successful at trial.

April 2, 2012

Illinois Department Of Human Rights Legal Tips

So you are in Chicago and you believe you are the victim of discrimination. What should you do to protect your rights? My Chicago office handles many types of discrimination and I file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they will automatically cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") if the subject matter is allowable. The advantage to filing with the IDHR is they are mandated by the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") to investigate the discrimination complaint within one-year. This means your case will be quickly moved through the system and perhaps a resolution between the parties can take place.

For example in a sexual harassment case, the EEOC will allow for cross-filing and you will have multiple options going forward. This gives you the ability to file a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court or if you follow the IDHR/state route, in state court or with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). A note, you can only file with the IHRC if there is a finding of substantial evidence by the IDHR or if the IDHR fails to complete its investigation within one-year. Make sure you protect your rights if you have been the victim of discrimination in Chicago or in other areas of Illinois.

March 28, 2012

Chicago Area Employers Engaging In Sexual Harassment

Chicago area employers seem to be engaging in sexual harassment through their employees. My Chicago office is seeing a rise in the number of sexual harassment complaints. These complaints will be filed at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). After filing at the IDHR, if there is a finding of substantial evidence, the case can proceed in the local circuit court or at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). Most sexual harassment cases involve the creation of a hostile work environment. The hostile work environment can be caused by sexual comments or viewing sexual material on the computer.

It is very important that as an employee you realize your rights under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). Under the Act you are protected at work from sexual comments and requests for sex among other things. If you are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace you have many remedies available to you and an experienced employment lawyer can help you decide the best course of action. Remember that very strict time limits apply to sexual harassment cases so act fast and don't procrastinate.

March 27, 2012

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settles For $6 Million

Aaron's Inc. has settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with a former employee for $6 million. This was a wild employment discrimination case that had many twists and turns. According to published accounts the female employee claimed she was sexually harassed by a former manager in 2006. You can see how long these cases take before any money changes hands if the case goes all the way to trial. In this case the lawsuit went to trial in 2011 and a jury awarded $95 million to the woman. Of course the company appealed saying the award was excessive.

The judge then lowered the judgment against Aaron's to $39.8 million because the damages exceeded the maximum allowed by law. The lower award was then appealed and the case could have ended up in future litigation for many years. The parties decided to end the case and settled for $6 million. This happens often in large awards. The plaintiff just wants to get some money in her pocket now, and the company doesn't want to risk having the large award sustained and wants to end the large legal bills. In this case Aarons set aside over $35 million for payout and legal fees. You can see how expensive these cases can be.

March 26, 2012

Pointers On Discovery In Sexual Harassment Cases In Chicago

So your sexual harassment case is at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). You are about to engage in discovery and you may be unsure what do to next. Hopefullly you have contacted an employment attorney and he can take care of it for you. If you haven't, I suggest you do. Discovery is where cases are won and lost. Get the proper information and the other side will probably settle the case. Don't get the right information and the other side will gladly take the case to trial.

It is very important to do thorough requests for product of documents. For example, when asking for your employment file, don't just get the documents inside the file, get a copy of the file jacket, front, back and inside. Many times human resources will write comments on the front or inside of the employment file jacket. Missing this could be a bad decision. You should also ask for all electronic data which would include computer files, phone records, text messages and cell phone records. Remember the more time you spend thinking about discovery the better your chances are for winning.

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 23, 2012

Hal Leonard Publishing Company Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

Hal Leonard Publishing Company pays $150,000 to a class of female employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to details published in court documents, women were subjected to unwelcome grabbing and squeezing while at work. This sexual harassment was performed by co-workers. Because it did not involve a manager, sexual harassment liability will not attach until the women complained. Once they complain the company has an obligation to stop the harassment and do an investigation.

The women complained multiple times to management but the sexual harassment did not stop. In this case it looks like management decided that looking the other way was how they would handle the sexual harassment complaints. Of course they made a mistake by doing that. After paying this large amount of money I am sure they will act differently in the future. The EEOC was able to force the company to their senses. I am glad the female employees hung in there.

“An employer who has a sexual harassment policy on paper but fails to enforce it is placing itself at great risk. “Employers need to take sexual harassment allegations seriously. We are pleased that Hal Leonard worked cooperatively with us to resolve this charge without having to go through protracted litigation.” said EEOC attorney Julie Schmid.

March 21, 2012

How Do You Enforce A Judgement From The Illinois Human Rights Commission?

So you filed your sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and you received a finding of substantial evidence. Next you filed a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") and received a judgment for say $20,000. The Respondent refuses to pay the amount, what should you do? Well there is good news for you. You have two options. You can file an enforcement action in the local courthouse where the discrimination occurred. Of course this option will require you to pay court fees and costs.

The second option is to file a motion for enforcement with the IHRC. The advantage of this is the cost and time. Let the IHRC work on your behalf and bring the Respondent in to explain why they haven't paid the judgement. I recommend you have an attorney at this stage to make sure things go smoothly. Remember getting that piece of paper that says you are awarded some money doesn't do you any good until you covert it into cash. The IHRC in Chicago is located at 100 W Randolph in the Thompson building. Don't let valuable judgements go unenforced.

March 20, 2012

What Is A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

My Chicago offices gets calls from employees all the time with the following question. What is considered a hostile work environment in Chicago? The answer usually surprises people. There must be a form of discrimination creating the hostile work environment. There is no general hostile work environment in Illinois. There must be something discriminatory like sexual harassment that then creates an environment that is hostile. So if your boss is constantly making crude sexual comments, that would be a form of sexual harassment called hostile work environment.

On the other hand if the boss if just a jerk and he makes stupid non-sexual comments, it would not meet the legal definition of a hostile work environment. The important thing is for you to speak with an experienced and aggressive employment lawyer so a determination can be made as to your case. These types of employment cases are tricky and fact specific. Remember also that there are strict time limits that apply and you should not procrastinate. Act fast and protect your employment rights.

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 16, 2012

Hal Leonard Publishing Company Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

Hal Leonard Publishing Company pays $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of female employees. According to documents obtained regarding the lawsuit, the company subjected the female employees to unwelcome grabbing and squeezing while they tried to perform their jobs. In addition to that the females had to endure sexual comments.

The people engaging in the sexual harassment were co-workers, not supervisors. The females complained to management and nothing was done to stop it. This type of activity occurring at work is a violation of the law. You can see how much money the company ended up spending to settle this case, plus they had to pay their own attorney. I hope in the future the company gets some sexual harassment training and learns how to better handle discrimination claims.

“An employer who has a sexual harassment policy on paper but fails to enforce it is placing itself at great risk." said EEOC attorney Julie Schmid
March 10, 2012

U.S. Cellular Sued For Sexual Harassment For Searching Customer Phones For Naked Pictures

Cellular phone giant U.S. Cellular must be getting signals from planet horny. According to a recently filed lawsuit, when customers brought in phones for repair, employees would search the phones for naked pictures. Not only would they search for the naked pictures but once they found the pictures they would show them around the store to other employees. This is the basis of a sexual harassment lawsuit involving ex-employee Lisa Blazek. Some of the pictures that were shown to Blazek included pictures of a woman masturbating, and a man lying on a bed naked. Not only is this a violation of the persons privacy but in Chicago it would rise to the level of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The lawsuit alleges a company investigator falsely accused her of having a relationship with one of the harassers to have leverage over her so she would drop her complaint.
Blazek alleged she was told she would have to relocate to another office to avoid the sexual harassment. After enduring the sexual harassment for two years and not having any help she quit. This is called a constructive discharge. If things get so bad you have to quit it is treated as a firing under the law in Illinois.

"It got to the point where I could no longer handle going to work," "It affected me physically, mentally and emotionally. It took over every aspect of my life." Blazek said.
March 9, 2012

If The Boss Is Sleeping With A Co-Worker Is That Sexual Harassment In Chicago?

So what happens if you are at work and the boss is sleeping with a co-worker? Is that sexual harassment in Chicago? The answer is probably. Here is the problem. If the boss is having sex with a co-worker who he is supervising, how can he truly be fair and unbiased in supervising you? This puts strain and pressure on the work relationship and makes it untenable for many workers. So you don't have to be the one having sex with the boss to be in a hostile work environment that is being created by the sexual relationship your boss is having with a co-worker.

In Chicago if you are the victim of sexual harassment we can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR must complete an investigation within one-year. It is very important that you save emails, text messages and voice mails that may help your case. There are many ways to prove sexual harassment and there are an equal number of defenses. A skilled employment attorney can navigate the IDHR and help your case get a finding of substantial evidence.

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.

March 4, 2012

Filing At The Chicago Commission On Human Relations

The good news for you if you have been the victim of sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination in Chicago is you have multiple options. In Chicago you can file with three different agencies. The Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"), the Chicago Commission on Human Relations ("CCHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). If you file with the IDHR, they will automatically cross-file with the EEOC. So in affect you get a two-for one in that regard.

Where you file will depend on the circumstances and facts of your case. It is very important to speak with an employment lawyer and learn what is best for your circumstance. Of course if you live outside chicago in say the southern or central part of the state you can only file with the IDHR or EEOC. Don't wait too long because there are strict time limits that apply to discrimination cases. No matter where you file it is important that you keep track of what is taking place at work if you are still employed. Keep a log and save emails or other communications that may help your case.

March 3, 2012

Client Interview With The Illinois Department Of Human Rights

So you were the victim of sexual harassment at work and you filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). What are the next steps to proving the sexual harassment created a hostile work environment for you? You get a call from the investigator from the IDHR and he wants to schedule a client interview. What is this and what should you do to prepare for it? In Chicago the client interview will generally be held at the IDHR office on Randolph. For those downstate the client interview is held by telephone. Of course in person interviews can always be arranged by it is usually more convenient to do it but telephone.

The client interview is your chance to tell the investigator the details of your sexual harassment claim. You will also be given a chance to provide the names of witnesses, and to tell what documents you believe exist so the investigator can ask the company for them. The best way to be successful at the client interview is to properly prepare for it. Review your complaint including the dates you claim the discrimination took place. Try and remember who may have witnessed it. If you have an employment attorney it would be helpful to review all of this with him prior to the client interview so your interview goes smoothly. Remember this is the first impression of you in the IDHR investigators eyes, so make it a good one.

March 1, 2012

Why FIle At The Chicago Commission On Human Relations

So you have been the victim of sexual harassment at work and you don't know what to do next. Well of course you should contact an employment lawyer and then he will file at one of two places. First you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is mandated by law to complete an investigation within 365 days. Upon getting a finding of substantial evidence you can then file directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial in front of an administrative law judge. Instead of filing with the IHRC you can also file in the local circuit court for a jury trial.

Another option if you live in Chicago is to file with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations ("CCHR"). One advantage to filing with the CCHR is you may be awarded punitive damages if successful. This may be important depending on the facts of your case. For example if you have a case in which the actual lost wage damage is limited but the facts are outrageous, punitive damages may be important and the way to go. The important point is to have your case properly evaluated so a determination can be made on which venue to file your case.

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 26, 2012

Illinois Human Rights Commission Trials In Chicago

The system we have in Illinois may be confusing to some people. One reason is there are two agencies that have similar names but have different functions. The two are the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and the other is the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The IDHR has the job of investigating a discrimination claim based on the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). The IHRC is the agency that has the actual trial after there is a finding of substantial evidence by the IDHR. The process can be confusing and it makes sense to have an experienced employment lawyer on your side.

In Chicago the IHRC in located downtown in the Thompson Center and there are several administrative law judges on the 5th floor. There are actual rooms that look like mini courtrooms and that is where the trial will take place. You should remember that it will take your case about year to make it through the IDHR and another year to get it to trial at the IHRC. Then after the trial, both parties file post trial briefs and then the Judge takes the case under advisement. The bottom line is the Judge will not make a ruling for another two years. What this means to you is that from the day you file your sexual harassment or other discrimination case at the IDHR, it will take at least four years before you will be awarded any money.

February 24, 2012

Do Sexual Text Messages Create A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

What happens in Chicago when your boss sends you sexual text messages? Do you have any rights and remedies? The short answer is yes Sexual text messages from your boss will create a hostile work environment not only for you but potentially for other workers as well. The sexual text messages would rise to the level of sexual harassment in Chicago and you would be able to file a discrimination complaint at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is mandated by law to investigate your sexual harassment complaint within one-year. These investigations can be tricky and usually require an employment attorney who can navigate your case through the system.

There are two types of sexual harassment in Chicago, one is called hostile work environment and the other is called quid quo pro. The latter is latin for this-for-that and refers to the boss attempting to give you something for getting sex from you. The hostile work environment type refers to sexual comments, touching, groping etc. In that type of sexual harassment the boss is not necessarily trying to have sex with you but instead trying to just make you feel uncomfortable. Now there are times when both types of sexual harassment take place.

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 21, 2012

Information About The Illinois Human Rights Commission In Chicago

The Chicago office of the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") is where trials take place for violations of the Illinois Human RIghts Act ("ACT"). The trial is not in front of a jury but instead in front of an administrative law judge. Practicing in front of the IHRC is different from circuit court. Because of the differences, it is helpful to have an experienced employment law attorney on your side. There are various options available to you and it is important to have every fact available before you make your decision.

For example if you filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human RIghts ("IDHR") in Chicago and the investigator found substantial evidence, you will either file a complaint with the IHRC or file a lawsuit in circuit court. So the IHRC is really the second step in the process of having your sexual harassment complaint heard. Even after trial, it could take up to two-years for the judge to write an opinion on the case. For this reason it is important to always keep settlement in mind. Settlement allows both sides to put the matter behind them and also to guarantee costs.

February 18, 2012

Constructive Discharge In Chicago

There are terms used in employment law that may confuse some people. One such term is the word constructive discharge. In Chicago if you are working and someone is discriminating against you to the point where you can not work anymore, and you quit it is referred to as a constructive discharge. The standard is what a reasonable person would do in your circumstances. So for example is the boss tells you that you have a nice rear end and you quit the next day that may not qualify as a constructive discharge. The reason would be it is a one-time incident even though is would be sexual harassment. On the other hand if the boss has been telling you that daily and you tell him to stop daily and you are getting stressed and can't take it anymore, that probably would qualify as a constructive discharge.

In Illinois a constructive discharge case would be filed with the Illinois Department of Human RIghts ("IDHR"). In Chicago there seems to be a rise in the number of constructive discharge cases filed with the IDHR. One reason is probably the bad economy and the fact that employers seem to believe they can do anything they please. Employees are under more stress at work and quite frankly they seem under attack. The rights of employees is eroding and workers in Chicago must take a stand and protect their rights.

February 15, 2012

Winning Your Sexual Harassment Case At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

Well you filed your sexual harassment case at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") in Chicago and they found substantial evidence. Now what do you do? Well unless you choose to file your case with in the local circuit court you will have a trial at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The IHRC is different in many ways from the local court so it takes experience and knowledge to navigate. At the IHRC an administrative law judge will hear and decide the case not a jury. I believe this is a good thing because the judge is experienced in hearing employment law cases exclusively and this will work to your advantage.

There is another reason why the IHRC is a good venue for taking your sexual harassment case. There are no depositions unless ordered by the judge-which doesn't happen often. This keeps the cost of litigation down and puts more pressure on companies because they can't use their advantage of bigger pockets. In my experience most cases settle at the IHRC because the companies don't like paying attorney fees and don't like the uncertainty of not having depositions. It is important for victims of discrimination to realize they have a good option by taking a case to the IHRC.

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 11, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Involving Waitresses

My Chicago offices gets calls from people who work for bars, taverns and restaurants. The questions are usually the same. What rights do I have if the boss or co-workers are making sexual comments to me? Is this sexual harassment in Chicago? The answer is yes. This would be a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act and we could file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human RIghts ("IDHR"). The good thing about filing with the IDHR is there is no cost and they are mandated by law to complete an investigation within one year.

So what types of defenses will the bar owner or manager use if I file my sexual harassment complaint? Well typically they will say the conduct was mutual and therefore consensual. If a member of management is doing the harassment the company will have strict liability. The important thing for you to remember is to try and get as much evidence as possible. This could be text messages, emails or other employees witnessing the conduct. Chicago has many bars and restaurants and there is a great deal of sexual harassment taking place. Act fast and protect your rights if you are the victim of employment discrimination.

February 10, 2012

Hobson Air Conditioning Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Hobson Air Conditioning, Inc. settled a sexual harassment and constructive discharge lawsuit for $37,500. The multiple count discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of former employee Misty Kratky. According to published accounts Kratky's male manager subjected her to sexually vulgar comments and touched her. The sexual harassment occurred soon after she was hired. This manager must have thought she was there to be his play toy. It is amazing this guy was in a leadership position.

The sexual harassment got worse and included repeatedly asking Kratky to show him her breasts. I mean if the guy needed to see breasts that bad he should have gone to a strip club--get a life buddy. This manager also would make crude sexual demands on her and even exposing himself to her on multiple occasions. She complained to management about this but nothing was done to stop the harassment. Because the sexual harassment continued and nothing was done to the harasser, Kratky quit and this is considered a constructive discharge under the law.

EEOC Attorney Toby Wosk Costas said, “As the only female employee in her office, Ms. Kratky was targeted for this crude and disturbing behavior on the work premises."
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.

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February 4, 2012

Is A Co-Worker Looking At Porn On His Work Computer Sexual Harassment If I See His Computer

What happens if an employee can see his co-worker surfing the Internet and viewing porn? Is this considered sexual harassment? Well the short answer is yes. It would be the creation of a hostile work environment for you and the other employees who have to witness this. Now if the person has control over you like a supervisor or manager the company will have strict liability. If the person does not have control over you, the company only has liability if you report it and the company does not stop the conduct. So the first step would be for you to report this conduct to human resources. I recommend doing this in writing so you have a record of it.

The next step is to monitor what happens next. If the company intervenes and stops the employee from surfing the Internet for porn, the issue is resolved (In a reputable company the employee would be fired). If the company does nothing you need to protect your rights and file a complaint through an employment attorney with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). In Chicago especially it is important to get representation because the other side will have an attorney and it would put you at a big disadvantage if you go it alone.

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 31, 2012

No Upfront Costs For Chicago Sexual Harassment Cases

I am always amazed when I walk into the waiting area of the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") at the Thompson Center in Chicago and see people filing out paperwork by themselves. Most of them don't realize that they could have an employment attorney working for them for basically free. My Chicago office doesn't charge unless you recover some money so in affect you are getting me for free. Just think how much stress this would take off of you and what a feeling of relief knowing you have someone with real experience helping you. I know how important your sexual harassment or other discrimination case is to you. Don't go it alone and chance losing your case.

If going it alone with the IDHR isn't bad enough, when I go to the Chicago office of the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IHRC") I see even more people who are going it alone. This is very bad because the other side will have an attorney and this puts you at a real disadvantage. Do you really think you can go one-on-one with an experienced employment discrimination attorney ? And if you can get an attorney for contingency fee, why would you want to try? My Chicago offices never charges a fee to discuss your employment case. Do the right thing and call for a free consultation. Don't go it alone.

January 30, 2012

Sexual Harassment Via Text Messages

Because technology is spreading so quickly and most people own cell phones with text messaging capabilities, this medium is also being used to engage in sexual harassment. Most people don't just work from 9-5 anymore. They are available to answer questions while they are driving to and from work and at home. For this reason, many times supervisors have the cell phone numbers of their employees. This can lead to a problem for the company and supervisor. My Chicago office is seeing a big rise in the number of sexual harassment cases that involve the use of text messages. This is good news for employees who are being harassed at work because they will have a clear and accurate evidence trail.

This text message trail is very important when you file a case with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). During the investigation with the IDHR, evidence such as text messages can be utilized to show without question that you were the victim of sexual harassment and strict liability attaches. And don't forget that when one person at work in being sexually harassed it could create a hostile work environment for everyone. It is very important to speak with an employment lawyer and protect your rights. The company will pay large amounts of money to protect its' rights and assets.

January 27, 2012

Is It A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago If Your Supervisor Comments On Your Body?

What happens when you come into work every day and your boss says you look hot or that sweater makes your chest really stand out? Are these types of remarks appropriate? Is there anything you can do about it? What does the law in Illinois saw about this? Of course this will be a case-by-case basis but generally if your boss is constantly making you feel uncomfortable by his comments about your looks, you may be the victim of sexual harassment by the creation of a hostile work environment. In Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois you can file a claim of discrimination at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). However, you are better off speaking with an experienced employment lawyer and letting him file the charge for you.

My Chicago office gets many calls about employees who are tired of the remarks their boss makes about their looks. Employees are entitled to a certain degree of respect in the workplace and are protected from constant remarks which make them feel disrespected and humiliated. It is very important to speak with an employment lawyer early in the process to ensure your rights are protected and valuable evidence isn't lost. Remember the company is not going to protect your rights, only you and your attorney can do that.

January 26, 2012

Methuen Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $250,000

The city of Methuen will settle a sexual harassment lawsuit for $250,000. The sexual harassment case involves legal secretary Fulya Metin Campanelli and former city solicitor Maurice Lariviere who was her boss. According to published accounts the main claim was that Lariviere engaged in sexual harassment years before and the city did nothing to stop it and to punish him for it. This led him to believe he could continue to engage in sexual harassment and put her in close proximity with him. Another words she is saying that if they had fired him or given him discipline before he would not have been in a position to sexually harass her in the future like he did.

The history of a person accused of sexual harassment comes into play when a situation like this occurs. You can't put a person under the control of a person who has a history of sexual harassment without the proper monitoring in place. In affect you are putting fresh meat in front of a wild animal. In this case the wild animal cost he city $250,000. These types of employment law cases are very expensive, especially since the city also had to pay its' own lawyer a great deal of money to defend the case prior to settlement.

"The hardest and smartest thing to do is approve this and get this behind us,""It's a six-year horror show." said Councilor Michael Condon.

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January 25, 2012

Is Being Asked Out On A Date Sexual Harassment in Chicago?

My Chicago office gets many calls regarding what is sexual harassment in Illinois. Of course there are certain actions that are easy to identify as sexual harassment. But sometimes there are gray areas on what is sexual harassment. For example if a co-worker asks you out for a date one time that would not be sexual harassment. But if you keep turning him down and he doesn't stop that could be considered sexual harassment. Or perhaps after you turn him down he starts acting like a jerk at work and starts saying nasty things about you--that would be sexual harassment. In this type of situation it s a case by case basis. The facts will matter and should be evaluated by an employment lawyer.

Now if the person asking you out is your supervisor or another person in management who has any type of control over you, it may be sexual harassment the first time. The reason is that if you turn the person down you could feel that it would impact your job. And if you turn the boss down and something bad does happen at work, even if it isn't tied directly to turning him down for a date, it sure looks bad. It is a very bad practice for management to ask out employees. So if you are at work and are being asked out for a date and you don't want to go out, you have options. Contact an employment lawyer and find out if you are the victim of discrimination in the form of sexual harassment. If you are we can file a complaint at the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

January 24, 2012

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Says Discrimination At All Time High

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") received a record 99,947 charges of employment discrimination in 2011. With all of the calls to my Chicago office I am not suprised that the number of discrimination complaints is on the rise. I get so many calls about sexual harassment that I am amazed the number of complaints isn't higher. It is very important for employees to realize that they have rights and they have a place to turn to. It is imperative that you contact an employment lawyer who can help you navigate the EEOC and other agencies.

The EEOC obtained $455.6 million in relief through its administrative program and litigation in Fiscal Year 2011. This is a fantastic amount and this shows how widespread the employment discrimination is. There are state agencies that also investigate employment discrimination and I prefer to file directly with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") because they do a faster and better job of investigating issues. However the imporant thing is to file with either agency and protect your employment rights.

January 22, 2012

Proceeding Before The Illinois Human RIghts Commission

So what happens after you file your sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC")? Well you would have already gone through the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and will have an idea of the companies position against you. The key will be to evaluate your chances of success at the IHRC. Remember the standards are much different at the IHRC than they were at the IDHR. For this reason it is very important to be represented by an experienced employment law attorney. Things can get very tricky with the IHRC and you need to properly propound discovery to the other side. Additionally you must know the proper way to answer the discovery that is coming your way.

It is my experience that most cases will settle at the IHRC because the risk of a loss by the company is too great and too expensive. Remember if you are successful at the IHRC you can get your attorney fees, back wages and you can ask to be reinstated. Additionally you the Commission can file a document whereby the company can't get any government contracts for up to two years. This is a powerful incentive for the company to settle. Can you imagine if the company is getting two million dollars of government contracts per year. Do you think they are going to risk this on your case? But in order to put this type of pressure and leverage on the company you must be experienced in these types of negotiations.

January 18, 2012

Rafael's Italian Restaurant Pays $25,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Rafael’s Italian Restaurant will pay $25,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of various female workers. Some of the females were actually teenagers which makes this even more horrific. According to published accounts the sexual harassment was going on for years and management did not stop it. The harassment included crude comments of a sexual nature directed at the females. If that weren't bad enough there were even requests for sex.

In an even more troubling allegation some of the male workers even used vegetables to simulate sodomy and to hit the victims between their legs. It is hard to believe this type of behavior went on without management intervening on behalf of the female workers. Can you imagine sending your daughter to work in a hostile work environment like this? As a result of this settlement the company will have to undergo sexual harassment training and draft a written policy on sexual harassment for all employees to see. I hope there are changes to management and this doesn't happen in the future.

“Allowing serial harassers to victimize female employees without facing consequences is a clear violation of federal law,” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams.
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 12, 2012

Family Dollar Pays $45,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Family Dollar Stores of Virginia, Inc. pays $45,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Chanele Brown. According to the complaint Brown was sexually harassed by her male store manager at the Family Dollar store where she worked. Even though Brown worked as a customer services representative for less than a month she still had a valid sexual harassment complaint against the company because a supervisor was harassing her.

The sexual harassment included the manager groping Brown and propositioning her for sex. Think of the pressure this puts on the worker when her boss is trying to have a sexual relationship and she doesn't want that. To make matters worse the manager also allegedly reduced Brown’s work hours during one week and told her that in order to have the hours reinstated, Brown had to let the manager come to her home. This is called Quid Quo Pro which is Latin for this for that. Brown ended up refusing the manager’s request and resigned the next day. This is referred to as a constructive discharge and means that it is treated under the law as a firing.

“Employers are reminded that it is not enough to have policies prohibiting sexual harassment in place, hidden away in a handbook somewhere,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes.
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.

January 9, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Cases Against Supervisors

What happens in Chicago when your supervisor is engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with you? As an employee what can and should you do? In Illinois there is strict liability against a company and against the supervisor individually for sexual harassment if you are being subjected to sexual harassment by the supervisor. That means if you are being sent text messages and emails that are sexual in nature by the supervisor or anyone in management who has any type of control over you, than you have a case of sexual harassment. You can file directly with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). It is very important to get an attorney involved early so that the complaint can be drafted properly and it is filed in a timely manner. Additionally, the company will take you more serious if you have an attorney.

So what do you do after you file your complaint of sexual harassment with the IDHR? First, keep your nose clean at work and dont' give them an excuse to fire you. And believe me they will be looking for a reason to fire you. Just because you file with the IDHR doesn't mean you can start coming in late or goof off on your job. Second, keep doing your best and keep good records of what you do. If you are subjected to any discipline, make sure you document your objections in a professional fashion. Remember at some point a judge may be looking at these documents and we want to make sure they look professional. Let the other side look bad. The botton line is in Illinois there is strict liability against a supervisor for sexual harassment. Don't let your supervisors engage in sexual harassment in Chicago against you.

January 7, 2012

Illinois Human Rights Commission Pre-hearing Memo

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

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

January 6, 2012

Are Sexual Text Messages Sexual Harassment In Illinois?

So you are at work and your supervisor starts to send you sexual type messages via text message. What should you do to stop this behavior without losing your job? And does this rise to the level of sexual harassment in Illinois? Well the short answer is yes. In Illinois there is strict liability attached to the company if a supervisor or person in management engages in conduct that can be deemed sexually harassing. So sexual text messages would qualify as sexual harassment in Illinois. And the best part about text messages are they show the phone number sent from and are easy to show ownership. Text messages are great forms of evidence.

One thing you should do is save the text message and print them out so you can' risk losing them. A complaint for sexual harassment can be filed at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they will automatically file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I prefer to file with the IDHR because they are required by law to conduct an investigation within one year. The EEOC on the other hand does not have to conduct an investigation within a certain time period. In short, save your text messages and call an experienced employment lawyer.

January 2, 2012

Settling A Sexual Harassment Case At the Illinois Human Rights Commission

So your case made it all the way to the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). Now what do you do? Are you prepared to take the case to trial and wait a few years for the judges decision? Remember at the IHRC there are no jury trials. The good news for you is that most cases before the IHRC settle, just like most other civil cases. If you have a sexual harassment case chances are the company isn't going to want all the juicy details to emerge. Just think how embarrassing it would be to have the world know how women are really treated at work. If your sexual harassment case makes it to the IHRC you have leverage.

So what do you do next? Well I hope you have an experienced sexual harassment lawyer because that is how you are getting top dollar for your case. Negotiations can be tricky and are all about leverage, pressure and experience. If you are suing a company they have to have a lawyer in order to appear in front of the IHRC so why go it alone. You need a lawyer who is experienced to battle their lawyer. If you hire the right lawyer you basically get him for free because of the increase in the settlement you will receive. If your case has advanced this far, go the extra mile and make sure you receive top dollar.

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 28, 2011

Italian Restaurant Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $25,000

Rafael’s Italian Restaurant settles a sexual harassment lawsuit for $25,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of female employees. To make matters worse, some of the females that were subjected to sexual harassment were teenagers. According to published accounts a male kitchen worker repeatedly subjected female employees to egregious acts of sexual harassment including crude comments, requests for sex and physical touching.

The details of what the men said to these women is troubling and include using vegetables to simulate sodomy and to hit the victims between their legs. The women complained to management but nothing was done to stop it. It is unbelievable that management would not take immediate action and intervene on behalf of the women. You can imagine the impact this had on the teenagers. I am glad the EEOC stepped in and held the company accountable.

“Allowing serial harassers to victimize female employees without facing consequences is a clear violation of federal law,” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams.
December 27, 2011

Chicago Hostile Work Environment Facts

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

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

December 24, 2011

How Do You Prove Your Sexual Harassment Case?

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

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

December 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 22, 2011

Trying A Sexual Harassment Case Before The Illinois Human Rights Commission

Many times people will go it alone when they have a sexual harassment case with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Even though it is unwise to proceed alone at that point it is not fatal. However, once the case makes it to the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") it would behoove you to hire an employment lawyer for your case. Two main reasons. First, it won't cost you anything as a good employment lawyer will take your case on contingency fee. Second, things can get tricky at the IHRC and you will actually try your case there.

The other side will have an attorney and you will be at a very big disadvantage if you don't have an attorney. One of the first things that will take place at the IHRC is discovery. If you don't draft discovery properly you may not get all of the information you need to win your case. Why take a chance and draft it alone?

December 21, 2011

Sexual Harassment Costs and Fees

My Chicago office gets calls all the time from people who want to know how much it will cost to file a sexual harassment complaint against someone at work. That is a very good question because most people don't have extra money set aside for legal fees. The good news for people is my office doesn't charge to file a complaint. I work on contingency fee only and don't get any money unless you recover money. So either we both get paid or neither of us gets paid. This also means that if I take your case I believe you have a good case or I wouldn't take the case.

Now there are times that after I take the case, facts are uncovered that can hurt your case but if you are upfront with me in the beginning this usually doesn't happen. It is very important to discuss your case early and file a claim of discrimination based on sexual harassment early so you don't miss any statute of limitation dates with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). I practice in front of the IDHR weekly and have many cases with them. It is very important to hire an experienced employment lawyer to handle your sexual harassment case.

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 17, 2011

Sexual Harassment Investigations At Major Corporations

Large corporations usually have very large human resource departments and large policies on discrimination. The discrimination policies usually cover sexual harassment and what to do if you are the victim. The corporations also usually give sexual harassment training to all employees. The problem is, when someone comes forward and complains about sexual harassment they are usually demonized, marginalized and for the most part put on the shelf. Big corporations don't like anyone who rocks the boat.

So what do you do if the corporation doesn't take your complaint of sexual harassment seriously. You call my office and we file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the claim and won't let the corporation sweep the entire matter under the rug. Remember that human resource departments are there to protect the corporation not to protect you and your rights. A good employment lawyer will protect your rights.

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 14, 2011

Don't Put Up With Sexual Harassment

I know the job market is tight right now. People are afraid that they may lose their job at any time. And because of the tight market, they are afraid if they do lose their job they won't be able to find another. How can they pay the bills and feed themselves if they lose their job? For these reasons many people are putting up with sexual harassment at work. In Illinois you have rights and you don't have to put up with sexual harassment in the workplace. My office fights for people who have been subjected to discrimination including sexual harassment.

Just because you put up with sexual harassment in the workplace doesn't mean you will keep your job forever. What happens if you don't complain about the sexual harassment and then get fired? If you complain after you are fired, it will look like you are only complaining now because you were fired. I always tell people to take the initiative and file before you lose your job. Protect yourself and your rights and talk with an employment lawyer regarding your rights and your options. If things get too bad and you can't keep working while the sexual harassment is going on your can quit. This is referred to as a constructive discharge and treated as a termination under the law.

December 13, 2011

Should I File At The Illinois Human Rights Commission Or Circuit Court?

My Chicago office has many cases of discrimination at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The discrimination case may involve sexual harassment, gender discrimination, religion, sexual orientation to name just a few. So what happens after the IDHR investigator finds substantial evidence of the discrimination? Well there are several options at that point. We could file a complaint directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") or you can file a complaint in the local circuit court where the discrimination occurred. So which venue should you file your sexual harassment complaint or other discrimination complaint?

The answer for most cases is the IHRC. One major factor in filing with the IHRC is the cost. There is no cost in filing at the IHRC. Additionally, in my opinion the case will work its' way to trial at a faster pace than filing in the local circuit court. The downside in filing at the IHRC is you can't have a jury trial. All cases filed at the IHRC are heard by an administrative law judge. Remember the goal of any case is to get money in your pocket. Having a good negotiator on your side maximizing your settlement is key.

December 11, 2011

A Trial At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

So your sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") received a finding of substantial evidence and you can now proceed for a trial with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). What can you expect? Well for starters you need to contact a good employment lawyer because going it alone is fraught with potential problems. You will want to engage in discovery and your discovery requests must be properly drafted and you must file the appropriate documents with the IHRC. If you don't do things properly you risk having your case dismissed by the judge.

If you do proceed correctly at the IHRC and actually get to the trial, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, there won't be a decision made that day. After the actual trial the judge will request a post-trial memo outlining the evidence presented and your argument. This is a very important document because many times the judge won't make a decision for several years and therefore the judge will rely on what you write. It is hard for the judge to remember what was said at trial if he doesn't decide until two-years later. For this reason having an experienced attorney can help your chances of winning.

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 5, 2011

Hostile Work Environment Needs Underlying Discrimination

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

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

December 4, 2011

Sexual Harassment Settlements

There are many steps in a sexual harassment lawsuit. First, the complaint is filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). If you file with the IDHR they will cross-file with the EEOC so you get a two for one. After the complaint is filed there will be a verified answer filed by the company; which is simply an answer filed under oath. After the answer is filed the IDHR will schedule a client interview to get facts and the names of any witnesses. The next step is the fact-finding conference at the IDHR. The fact-finding conference would be attended by the person filing the charge, her attorney, the IDHR investigator and the company representative and their attorney.

Along the way the parties usually try to settle the case. So why should you try and settle the sexual harassment case? There are many reasons why settling is to your advantage. First, you get guaranteed money in your pocket. Remember there is no guarantee you will win your case. Second, you get money today as opposed to perhaps getting money years from now. Third, you don't have to worry about the company going out of business or filing for bankruptcy. Because sexual harassment cases take years to get to trial a company could have financial problems before the case is resolved. I always work hard to settle cases and think it is the best course of action in sexual harassment cases.

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.
December 1, 2011

Sexual Harassment Involving The CEO

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

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

November 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 28, 2011

Sexual Harassment Case At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

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

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

November 26, 2011

Sexual Harassment And Holiday Parties

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

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

November 25, 2011

Who Pays Attorney Fees At The Illinois Human Rights Commission?

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

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

November 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 22, 2011

Sexual Harassment In Chicago

Sexual Harassment in the workplace is a growing problem. There are statistics that show the numbers going up or down but they don't really tell the story. In Chicago my office is seeing a rise in the number of sexual harassment complaints. There are many reasons for the increase I am sure. I believe one reason is the tight job market and the fear employees have about losing their job if they complain. In Chicago I file sexual harassment complaints with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Even though the IDHR is having budget cuts they still do a great job of investigating complaints of discrimination including sexual harassment.

There are many other types of discrimination that can be filed with the IDHR and the important thing to do is for people to contact an employment lawyer to get better advice. Remember there are strict time limits for filing a complaint with the IDHR and once those limits pass, your case will be lost. There is no reason why an employee has to put up with sexual harassment. You have rights as an employee in Illinois and it is very important that you speak with a sexual harassment lawyer to protect your rights.

November 21, 2011

Evidence In A Sexual Harassment Case

What happens when you are being sexually harassed at work and there is no written proof or no witnesses? How are you suppose to confront the person doing the sexual harassment and prove this is actually happening? My Chicago offices gets calls like this all the time. Here is the advice I give and what I believe you should do. If the person harassing you will not stop try this. Send him an email memorializing what he just said to you and ask if you heard him correctly. This does a couple of things First, if he responds in the positive, you now have proof of what he said to you.

Second, even if he does not respond to your email, it may get him thinking that you will not put up with the sexual harassment and he may stop. If the person still won't stop you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). My office handles cases before the IDHR and it is one way to stop the harassment. Remember that not doing anything is the worse thing because the harasser will just continue doing what he is doing.

November 20, 2011

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

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

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

“In order to be productive, employees deserve a workplace free from sexual comments, repeated propositions and inappropriate touching,” said EEOC attorney Anna Y. Park.
November 18, 2011

Sexual Harassment Defense Of Consent

My Chicago office is seeing a real increase in the number of sexual harassment defense claims of consent. It usually starts with the employee filing a complaint of sexual harassment and backing it up with evidence such as text messages or emails. The person doing the harassing then if left with two choices. They can't deny the sex text messages so they can't deny there was sex talk. They could admit to harassing the person but usually they do not. Instead they claim the sex talk with consensual and two-way and therefore consensual. In affect they are claiming there is no sexual harassment because the advances were warranted.

The problem with this theory is, the person doing the harassing is usually in a position of power so there really can't be a true consent. Second, usually the evidence shows the person doing the harassing is sending more texts and it starting the text message chain. I tell my clients not to be afraid of this type of defense and don't let it discourage you from coming forward. At the end of the day, text messages are usually the best evidence you can have. I file many cases at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") regarding sexual harassment cases involving text messages.

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 13, 2011

Trial At The Illinois Human Rights Commission Or?

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

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

November 12, 2011

Text Messages In A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

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

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

November 11, 2011

Sexual Harassment: Blame The Victim?

If you have been following the news lately regarding the sexual harassment allegations toward candidate Cain you will notice the following. First, a flat denial of all charges and allegations. Second a strategy of blaming the victim as being either money hungry or seeking publicity. Even where two of the victims received large sums of money--it is reported they each received a year's salary. Why would a company pay a years salary for a baseless charge with no merit? The answer is simple, they wouldn't. A baseless charge would either get no money or a nominal amount. On the other hand, a charge the has merit would be settled prior to the allegations becoming public and my guess is that is what happened to the first two victims of candidate Cain.

But the most disturbing aspect of a sexual harassment defense is that many times the company blames the victim. She was the one doing the flirting or she was sleeping around. It is very rare that the company ever comes out and acknowledges the wrongdoing and apologizes. It is my experience that if a company would just admit and apologize, many times the issue could be handled without the need for litigation. The problem is once the company takes the blame the victim attitude they usually also terminate the employee. This leaves the sexual harassment victim with one option; file a lawsuit to seek just compensation.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment: Blame The Victim?" »

November 10, 2011

Illinois Department Of Human Rights Update

My Chicago office files many claims of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). A person who is the victim of sexual harassment or other form of discrimination in the workplace or public accommodation must first file with the IDHR or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This must take place prior to having the case heard in federal court, state court or in front of the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC").

Recently because of budget cuts the IDHR has been tasked to lay off 25% of its investigators. This is going to have a dramatic affect of how quickly a case moves through the system and how well victims of discrimination will have justice. You can guess that wiping out 25% of a workforce can only have a negative impact in the quality of service. The IDHR does a great job of investigating claims and trying to resolve cases prior to the filing of a complaint in court or with the IHRC. Hopefully the masterminds in Springfield will come to their senses and stop this insanity.

November 9, 2011

Bringing People To The Illinois Department Of Human Rights Fact-Finding Conference

I represent complainants at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") on charges of discrimination including sexual harassment. One of the steps in the investigation process by the IDHR is to conduct a fact-finding conference. I just appear with my client but many times the other side will bring many witnesses. I have never really figured out why defense attorneys do this other than to run their bill as high as possible. You can imagine the time it takes to prep all of those witnesses prior to the fact-finding conference.

The reason I don't think it is a good idea to bring extra people is because they aren't going to do any good. As long as the complainant says something happened the investigator can't disbelieve the credibility of the complainant. This is because of a federal case called Cooper v. Salazar. Basically an investigator with the IDHR is prohibited from making a credibility of witness determination. So bringing extra people may seem impressive but all they are doing is giving the complainants attorney a free bite at the apple by hearing what they have to say.

November 5, 2011

Sexual Harassment And Confidentiality Agreements

So you filed a sexual harassment complaint at either the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The case is about to settle and you being told to sign an agreement that includes a paragraph called a confidentiality clause. What is a confidentiality clause and why is it in most sexual harassment agreements? The answer is simple, the clause is effectively a gag making sure you don't discuss the details of the case. Most companies settle the case and don't wish to have negative publicity associated with the case.

The confidentiality clause is also good for the employee. The clause prevents the company from badmouthing or otherwise letting details of the case escape which may put the employee in a negative light. So the confidentiality clause helps both sides and can be seen as a positive. Even if the case has reached the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial the details won't become public unless there is an actual trial. Given this fact, the parties can still settle with the details of the case being kept private. The recent case involving Herman Cain and his sexual harassment lawsuit helps illustrate the importance of a good confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement.

November 4, 2011

Cost Of Defending A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Now that Presidential candidate Herman Cain is being accused of sexual harassment by three different former employees sexual harassment in the workplace is on the forefront. In the Cain case, two former employees settled their claims for an undisclosed amount of money in return for signing a confidentiality agreement. So what is the true cost of settling a sexual harassment case? Well first there is the amount of money you are going to pay the victim. Second, you are going to incur legal fees from your own attorneys which can be substantial. And lastly you are going to have the settlement hang over your head in the future. Case in point the Cain case.

If the company did not settle the sexual harassment claims with Cain's alleged victims, the company could have fought and if they prevailed the facts would be public and Cain would be vindicated. Instead, the facts are hidden and in dispute. So did Cain really sexually harass the women or not? That question is now on the table because the case was settled with a confidentiality agreement. In Illinois a sexual harassment complaint can be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). If you file with the IDHR they will cross-file with the EEOC so you get a two for one. In any event, the true cost of a sexual harassment case may not be determined by crunching the numbers as evidenced by the Cain case.

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
November 2, 2011

Sexual Harassment And Politics

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

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

November 1, 2011

Illinois Department Of Human Rights Staff Cuts

The Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) is having budget issues and recently laid off employees. This means that the investigative phase of the agency will be slowed. The agency is mandated by law to complete an investigation into sexual harassment and other forms of employment discrimination within one year from the date of filing a charge. This is going to be very difficult now that there have been substantial layoffs.

The good news for plaintiffs lawyers is that the cases can perhaps get fast tracked and end up at the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC”) faster. After all the IHRC is where the money will be made because the IDHR only has the authority to issue a finding of substantial evidence or lack thereof. The IHRC on the other had can issue a monetary judgment. I will keep readers up to date on what is happening at the IDHR and if there will be further layoffs.

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 25, 2011

Unknown Facts About The Illinois Human Rights Commission

There are many hidden facts when your case comes before the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") and the untrained person can make big mistakes is they proceed on their own. For example did you know that it generally takes over two years from the date of your trial to actually get a ruling? That isn't two years from the date of filing but rather from the actual trial. That means from the time you first file your complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") you case may take four or five years to get to an actual decision. With those facts in mind you can see why it is so important to try and settle your case early.

An experienced employment lawyer can settle your case at the IDHR level and that is the best way to go if you desire money now rather than years from now. For example in most sexual harassment cases the company will want to settle quickly to avoid negative publicity and large legal fees in defending the claim. It is always wise to hire an experienced and aggressive employment lawyer. Most cases settle so why not settle early.

October 24, 2011

Illinois Department of Human Rights Issues

If you are the victim of discrimination in Illinois you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is mandated by law to complete its' investigation within 365 days of the filing date, unless both parties agree in writing to extend the time. This is a very steep order and it is only going to get worse because the IDHR is going to lay off a good number of investigators due to budget cuts. Generally speaking the IDHR does a great job and they often help case settle quickly. Hopefully these budget cuts won't last. However, the fact that they are laying workers off means you really need an experienced employment attorney to navigate these tricky waters.

My chicago office handles a great deal of discrimination cases with the IDHR especially regarding sexual harassment. There is a very intricate art to dealing with the IDHR especially now that they will be short handed. There is never a charge unless money is recovered so why go it alone? I will continue to keep readers up to date on what is going on with the IDHR and hopefully good news will soon follow.

October 22, 2011

Sexual Harassment In Chicago

The city of Chicago is seeing an increase in the number of private employees who are filing sexual harassment complaints with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The reason for the increase could be because of the lousy economy and because employers ,may feel as though they don't have to address the needs of workers. Additionally, employers are cutting back on training and education regarding discrimination in the workplace including sexual harassment.

There are many protections available for employees who believe they are the victims of sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination. Sexual harassment can be touching, comments and requests for sex. The biggest problem I see if for victims of sexual harassment being able to prove their case. Many times the person doing the harassment does it one on one and there are no witnesses.

October 21, 2011

American Laser Centers Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

American Laser Centers pays $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of four female employees. Published accounts say that he landlord for American Laser Centers sexual harassed the female employees. The women, allege the sexual harassment included unwelcome touching, and sexual advances. Things got so bad one of the females actually had her brother come into work for protection.

The female employees complained to management but nothing was done to stop the harassment. In fact the female clinic manager was fired just a week and a half after reporting the misconduct. When this type of negative job action takes place it is called retaliation and it is illegal in Illinois. You can see how companies treat people who complain about sexual harassment. It is sad but look at how much money the company ended up paying.

EEOC attorney Melissa Barrios said “Workers absolutely have the legal right to report harassment or discrimination suffered at work without repercussion.”
October 20, 2011

What Is A Constructive Discharge In Illinois?

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

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

October 19, 2011

Chicago Sees Increase in Sexual Harassment Cases

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

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

October 18, 2011

Chicago Employers Creating Hostile Work Environments

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

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

October 17, 2011

Chicago Employers Having Drinks With Workers and Sexual Harassment

My Chicago offices gets many calls for various types of sexual harassment. Sometimes the harassment occurs at work, sometimes over the phone at home. But in what seems like a trend there are more cases of sexual harassment taking place over drink in what is pretended to be a work type meeting--in a restaurant or bar serving liquor. I know this may seem odd that the boss needs to discuss business with an employee in a bar but it happens more than you think. There are probably several reasons for this. First, the boss may believe in a bar he can get your liquored up and make you do something you would otherwise not do. Second, if you meet him for drinks, he may think he has an alibi if you were to claim sexual harassment--calling is consensual. And lastly he may believe in a bar type setting there won't be any witnesses and therefore his conduct will be unprovable.

What the boss may not realize is that just because you agree to have a drink with him, it doesn't make it consensual. The boss has a great deal of control over you and asking you to have a drink and talk about business puts you in a very tough spot. This is especially true if you are on a business trip and staying in the same hotel. It makes it easy for the boss to say meet me in the hotel bar and we can talk about the meeting tomorrow. Remember that you have rights and don't feel that the boss can do what he wants and you have no recourse. I have filed many cases with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") on similar circumstances and have been very successful. Protect yourself and make sure you understand your employment rights in Illinois.

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 14, 2011

Using Text Messages To Prove Sexual Harassment

With the explosion of texting that is taking place throughout the country and by all age groups it is no surprise that text messages are playing an important role in sexual harassment cases. My Chicago office as well as my downstate office are seeing rising numbers of sexual harassment cases where text messages are the key piece of evidence. There are a few reasons why this is the case. First, the text messages will show the number called and the number that made the call. Because a phone is attributed to a person, this will be conclusive evidence of who sent the text message and what was said. Text messages also don't change their minds or get scared to cooperate with sexual harassment investigations. People on the other hand change their minds and refuse to cooperate sometimes.

Many times I can settle a sexual harassment or other form of discrimination case quickly at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") by showing the other attorney a copy of the text messages along with a demand letter. By settling the case at the IDHR, it saves both parties time and money--and it allows the victim of discrimination to put the entire unpleasant matter behind her.

October 13, 2011

Illinois Department of Human Rights Mediation

In Illinois if you are the victim of discrimination you can file a complaint directly with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). One of the great things about filing directly with the IDHR is a program they have on mediation. If both parties agree, the IDHR will assign the case to a mediator and try to get both parties together to settle the case. Many of you will wonder why should you let the case go to mediation. The fact of the matter is most cases settle at some point prior to a trial. Given that fact, why wait to settle when you can settle early. There are many risks with delay. For example the company could file for bankruptcy, you could move across the country or you could even die. Remember, a case will take four or five years before you receive any money if it isn't settled prior to trial.

My Chicago office handles a large number of sexual harassment cases and many times the company doesn't want the details coming out. You can imagine some of the steamy details that may emerge in such cases. Additionally, the company will have to spend money on a lawyer defending the case. So there are reasons why both sides will want an early resolution of the case. It helps to have an experienced employment attorney who practices before the IDHR and has many cases at that venue. Remember there are very strict time limits for filing your initial complaint with the IDHR so consult an attorney as soon as possible to protect your employment and civil rights.

October 12, 2011

Chicago Hostile Work Environments At Work

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

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

October 11, 2011

Sexual Harassment And Human Resources

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

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

October 10, 2011

Taxes And A Sexual Harassment Settlement

This question comes up quite often in my Chicago office. I am going to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit and the client wants to know if the settlement is tax free? The short answer to that question is no. Unlike a personal injury, workers compensation or wrongful death case, an employment law case is generally subject to tax liability. The reasoning is as follows. In a personal injury case, the person is being compensated for a physical injury and the money is to make them physically whole. So if you lost your thumb, the money you get is to make up for the lost thumb because you will go the rest of your life without the thumb.

In a sexual harassment lawsuit or other case involving employment discrimination, the money is usually for lost wages and benefits. The Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") has published literature available regarding the taxation of employment related cases. I always tell clients to seek the advice of a C.P.A or other financial professional regarding your tax issues. There is a caveat to the taxation of employment settlements and that is if a portion is attributed to medical bills or a physical injury that is the result of the sexual harassment.

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 4, 2011

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

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

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

October 3, 2011

Hostile Work Environments Created During Investigations

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

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

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 30, 2011

Subtle Evidence In Sexual Harassment Cases

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

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

September 29, 2011

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

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

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

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

Aqua Tri Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $462,000

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

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

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

Sexual Harassment Investigations

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

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

September 23, 2011

Text Messages and Sexual Harassment

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

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

September 22, 2011

Request A File From The EEOC In A Sexual Harassment Case

Under the law in Illinois, a party to a lawsuit may request their file from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). In order to get the fle the request must be made in writing and mailed or faxed to the EEOC's Chicago office. The address of the Chicago office is 500 West Madison St, Suite 2000, Chicago IL 60661. The fax number for the EEOC is 312-869-8220. Remember the investigator's file is extremely important and will contain some great information regarding your claim. It is very important that you don't miss this opportunity to get extra information regarding your sexual harassment lawsuit.

There are a few caveats to getting the file. First if you are the Respondent, you only get access to the file after a lawsuit has been filed in Federal court. Second, if you are the Complainant, you can get the file before filing the lawsuit (within 90 days of getting the right to sue letter) or after you file the lawsuit (as long as you include the first page of your federal complaint). This information on only applies to sexual harassment lawsuits but any type of employment discrimination lawsuit that is filed with the EEOC. One last note, you have to pay the copying cost for the file. The file will be copied by Aloha Document Services, located at 60 East Van Buren, Suite 1502, Chicago IL 60606--their number is 312-542-1300.

Continue reading "Request A File From The EEOC In A Sexual Harassment Case" »

September 20, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit From Student Teacher Sexual Relationship

My Chicago office gets many calls from college students regarding sexual relationships with professors are universities. Sometimes the sex is consensual in that the student at the time enters into it with what seems like consent. Sometimes the professor just hounds the student for sex. Or the professor may keep asking the student out for coffee, dinner or may use as a pretext working on a "special project" with the student after class and in private. So is all of this or any of this sexual harassment under the law in Illinois? Yes.

A student can't really consent to a relationship with a professor because of the power and control the professor has over the student. Did they student get a grade of C for poor grades or because the student would not go out with the professor? Many colleges have policies about these types of relationships but do little more than give it lip service. When is the last time you read about a professor being fired for having a sexual relationship with a student? It is very important for the student to seek the legal advice of an attorney as soon as possible to prevent this from happening and to put a stop to it.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Lawsuit From Student Teacher Sexual Relationship" »

September 18, 2011

What Is A Constructive Discharge In Illinois?

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

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

September 17, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits In Chicago

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

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

September 14, 2011

Holiday Specialtrees Pays $110,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Holiday Specialtrees pays $110,000 to settle a sexual harassment and national origin discrimination lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after two male workers were targeted because of their national origin. Both men were Mixtec, an indigenous group from Oaxaca, Mexico. When a worker is targeted because his national origin it is a form of discrimination. In this case you can see how much money the company had to pay because of the actions of its' employees.

Published accounts allege a supervisor and other workers would expose themselves to the Mixtec workers while making sexual comments--this is sexual harassment. To make matters even worse several co-workers would grab the men’s buttock and chest area, or grab them from behind and simulate anal sex. Can you imagine going to work every day and having this happen to you? It is incredible that this type of activity actually takes place at work.

“This case highlights the prejudices that a minority-within-a-minority can face,” said EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo
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September 12, 2011

Cake Shop Sued For Sexual Harassment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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September 9, 2011

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

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

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

“This was an outrageous case of sexual harassment involving a supervisor who preyed upon vulnerable female employees, subjecting them to some of the most extreme forms of sexual harassment,” said EEOC Attorney Mary J. O’Neill.
September 7, 2011

East Georgia College Pays $50,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Involving A Professor

East Georgia College ("EGC") will pay $50,000 to Professor Thomas Thibeault after firing Thibeault. The reason he was fired was for criticizing the school’s sexual harassment policy. Talk about an assault on the First Amendment? Has this school ever read the U.S. Constitution? There are many instances of students and professors having sexual relationships. This puts a real burden on the schools to make sure they have a good policy in place that addresses this sad fact.

Usually the student is the one getting money from a school for sexual harassment but in this case it is the professor. All people have rights and this shows that sexual harassment at university's is a very touchy issue. The professor has a right to inquire into how the new sexual harassment policy would affect him. It is important for schools to have a balance between protecting the students and protecting the staff. School sexual harassment is on the rise and most colleges are realizing this.

"East Georgia College fired Professor Thibeault and had the police take him away, then changed its story, dropped that case for lack of evidence, reprimanded him for unspecified ‘offensive’ speech, and got rid of him," FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said
September 5, 2011

Sexual Harassment and College Professors

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

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

September 4, 2011

Otsego Township Pays $60,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Otsego Township settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $60,000. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Stephanie Britton a township grounds keeper. Britton not only was able to get $60,000 but she also got her job back. She had been fired by the Township and the firing was part of her complaint.

Britton alleged Otsego Township originally hired her as a groundskeeper and claimed her supervisor would make sexual comments directed at her. She said he would begin talking about a woman he knew with large breasts. She also alleged he would ask about the sex life of her and her husband and make other inappropriate comments. You can see how much money and time this lawsuit cost the Township and at the end of the day they had to give her the job back. It would have made more sense if they didn't fire her to begin with and just would have investigated her claim in a serious fashion.

”I would have liked to have worked for the township for five years or more,” Britton said.
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 30, 2011

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

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

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

August 29, 2011

Sexual Harassment Cases In Illinois And Text Messages

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

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

August 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 22, 2011

Hostile Work Environments Need Basis Of Discrimination

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

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

August 21, 2011

Sexual Harassment May Be Subtle

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

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

August 19, 2011

Wal-Mart Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $27,500

Wal-Mart Stores of Texas, LLC pays $27,500 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Paula Barstad. According to published accounts Barstad was the victim of sexual harassment while working as a an overnight stocker. The sexual harassment was performed by a male security guard. The harassment included verbal remarks and physical touching.

Barstad reported the sexual harassment to management on multiple occasions, but nothing was done to stop the harassment. In fact Barstad even submitted two written complaints about the sexual harassment and incredibly management disregarded the reports and the sexual harassment continued. I bet it won't continue now that the company had to pay money and get this type of negative publicity. I am always amazed that companies don't take sexual harassment serious.

“Sexual harassment by persons in security positions is particularly troubling given that such positions should promote a sense of safety not only to customers, but to the store employees as well,” said EEOC attorney Robert A. Canino.
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 15, 2011

Are Rude Comments A Hostile Work Environment?

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

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

August 14, 2011

Sexual Harassment Evidence

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

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

August 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 5, 2011

Rock-Tenn Pays $160,000 To Settle A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Rock-Tenn Company pays $160,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female worker after she was the victim of sexual harassment. The company really messed this up and look at how much this cost them. I am amazed at how little effort and time companies take in training their employees about sexual harassment.

According to published accounts the company investigated the sexual harassment complaint by the female worker but the harassment continued. One of the women had been forced to resign due to the ongoing harassment which is called a constructive discharge. I am sure in the future the company will take sexual harassment in a more serious fashion.

Pamela B. Dixon, an EEOC trial attorney said, “Even though Rock-Tenn denied that it had violated the law, we are pleased that the parties worked cooperatively to resolve this lawsuit.”
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 31, 2011

Sexual Harassment Cases Create Hostile Work Environment

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

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

July 29, 2011

Promens USA Inc. Pays $225,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Promens USA, Inc. pays $225,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC filed the lawsuit on behalf of four women who were sexually harassed. Not only were the women sexually harasse but the company engaged in retaliation once the women rejected their supervisor’s sexual advances. The woman were denied job opportunities open only to male employees.

According to published accounts a Promens USA supervisor repeatedly propositioned temporary female workers. When the women rejected his advances, the supervisor fired them. This pattern of quid pro quo sexual harassment continued until Promens USA fired this supervisor in July 2010 after yet another woman complained of sexual harassment. You can see what happens when a company does not take the complaints seriously. Look how much money this cost the company and they had to fire the supervisor anyway.

“This decree represents a positive outcome for all women employed in manufacturing facilities,” said John Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago
July 26, 2011

Sexual Harassment Investigations

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

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

July 23, 2011

Request Your Personnel File When Filing A Sexual Harassment Complaint

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

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

July 22, 2011

Sexual Harassment and University Professors

In Illinois it is considered sexual harassment for a current university professor to have a sexual relationship with a student. It is sometimes referred to as school sexual harassment. Even if the sex seems on the surface consensual it really isn't because of the power the professor has over the student. Many times the professor will start by asking the student to meet outside of class under the guise of working on a project or to get improvement pointers on the students work. The student is happy to get the extra attention and doesn't at first realize the plan of the professor.

It is very important for the student to contact an attorney as soon as possible to learn of her rights under the law. My chicago office is seeing a real increase in the amount of sexual harassment cases involving students and professors. Because there are strict time limits involved in filing a complaint in Illinois it is very important to not wait too long. And just because you received a good grade that doesn't negate your claim.

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 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 10, 2011

Washington State Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $375,000

Washington state will pay $375,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit came after a security guard at a juvenile-detention center raped a female who was incarcerated. According to published accounts the woman was 19 and serving time for various offenses. As a result of the lawsuit and the female coming forward the guard was arrested and convicted of custodial sexual misconduct.

"It was kind of an ugly, brutal, disgusting rape," said Jack Connelly, one of the woman's attorneys.
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 7, 2011

Terminix Pays $140,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Terminix and its parent company, ServiceMaster, will pay $140,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two female employees. According to published accounts the females were repeatedly sexually harassed by a supervisor. Because it involves a supervisor there is strict liability on the company.

Apparently other supervisors were aware of the sexual harassment but failed to stop it. The supervisor suggested to the female employees that they not wear tops to work, wear nothing but Vaseline to work and should be strippers so they could give him a lap dance. The company needs to do a better job on training and hiring supervisors.

“Employers have a responsibility to take appropriate action when they learn of sexual harassment in the workplace, to both remedy the harassment that already has occurred and to prevent future harassment,” said EEOC Attorney Mary O’Neill.
July 4, 2011

What Is A Hostile Work Environment?

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

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

July 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
July 2, 2011

Sexual Harassment and Text Messages

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

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

July 1, 2011

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

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

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

“We are pleased that this settlement provides training to managers and supervisors about Title VII’s requirements against discrimination and harassment,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
June 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 23, 2011

Sexual Harassment Evidence

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

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

June 21, 2011

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

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

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

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

What Is A Hostile Work Environment?

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

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

June 11, 2011

Illinois Sexual Harassment Cases Have Strict Time Limits For Filing

In Illinois a person must file a charge of discrimination based on sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") within 180 days from the date of the last instance of ongoing sexual harassment. If the person misses the 180 days, she can file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") within 300 days from the last date of the ongoing sexual harassment. Personally I prefer to file with the IDHR because they are mandated to complete an investigation within one year from the date of filing and the EEOC has no such mandate.

I also like the fact that the investigators for the IDHR are active and work to settle cases through mediation or the fact-finding conference process. The IDHR has three locations, Chicago, Springfield and Marion, Illinois. My office handles all three locations and I am very good at obtaining settlements prior to trial. In my opinion it is better to obtain a settlement early in the process for several reasons. First, in the instance of a sexual harassment claim, you can put the horrible incident behind you and move on with your life. Second, you get guaranteed money as opposed to waiting and perhaps having the company file for bankruptcy protection or go out of business.

June 10, 2011

Aaron's Must Pay $95 Million In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

An Illinois woman was awarded $95 million in a sexual harassment lawsuit involving an Aaron's Inc. rent-to-own store in a St. Louis suburb. Aarons will have to do a lot of renting to owning to cover that large award. According to court documents the jury ruled in favor of the women and found Aarons liable for sexual harassment, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress on a 20-year-old employee at its store in Fairview Heights, Ill.

According to details in the lawsuit the store manager touched the female and gave her pet names that were degrading and sexual in nature. The manager also tried to have sex with the woman and the women complained to the stores hotline. The store did nothing to stop any further harassment. In fact after complainint the manager forced the woman to the ground, lifted her shirt and masterbated all over her.

"We feel strongly that this verdict is the result of a decision made by a classic runaway jury, and because of that we are confident that the damages will be greatly reduced," said Chad Strickland, vice president of associate resources for the Atlanta-based retailer.


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June 8, 2011

Veterinary Center Pays $101,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

East Hawaii Veterinary Center LLC pays $101,000 to settle a sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after settlement talks failed. The EEOC filed on behalf of many women who claim they were the victims of sexual harassment. Published accounts claim a co-owner regularly subjected the females to sexually harassming conduct for years.

On a daily basis the co-owner insulted the female employees by making sexual commnets and hostile commets to women. The clinic failed to exercise its duty of reasonable care to prevent and correct the sexually harassing behavior. It became obvious the owners knew what was taking place and did nothing to stop it. The offending co-owner fired at least three of the women and forced others to quit. When someone is forced to quit it is referred to as a constructive discharge.

EEOC attorney Timothy Riera said, “Sexual harassment and gender discrimination remain problems in Hawaii, and it is important to remember the debilitating effects that such misconduct can have on a work environment."
June 7, 2011

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

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

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

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

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Often Settled

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

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

June 5, 2011

Hostile Work Environments On The Rise

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

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

June 3, 2011

U.S. Security Associates Inc. Pays $1.95 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A large settlement involving U.S. Security Associates Inc. was just announced. According to published accounts, U.S. Security Associates Inc. will pay $1.95 million to seven women after they filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the complaint a district manager for U.S. Security Associates Inc. was accused of harassing the seven female employees with sexual demands, inappropriate touching and other offensive conduct.

The company seems to be a gluten for punishment. It looks like the company previously lost a federal court verdict over the same manager's actions, and six other women made similar allegations claiming the same man sexually harassed them while working as a supervisor for the company in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. This manager is costing the company a great deal of money. Looks like the company should invest in some good screening, hiring and training practices.

June 2, 2011

Chicago Bar Tilted Kilt Sued For Sexual Harassment

Chicago Tilted Kilt sports bar is being sued for sexual harassment after 10 women came forward and each filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the women are accusing a manager of making sexually explicit comments, inappropriate physical contact and unwanted advances. This type of behavior if proven will cost the company a great deal of money.

The women also claim that the owners of the bar and the restaurant chain's corporate officials were told of the alleged sexual harrassment and did nothing to stop it. The women also claim the manager loudly discussed pornography with customers and employees. With 10 women filing at the same time this is going to be a real fun case to watch. My guess is the case will settle soon and the manager will not be with the company when the case settles.


May 31, 2011

College View Donuts LLC Pays $290,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

College View Donuts, LLC, pays $290,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of teenage female employees. Some of the employees were only 16 or 17 years old. Published accounts allege the manager engaged in unwanted touching and hugging and made lewd sexual comments to the female employees.

College View Donuts allowed the manager's illegal conduct to continue even after two employees had complained. I always see the same pattern of behavior. Employees complain and the company does nothing. The manager was finally fired after the employees reported his conduct to the police and he was arrested. Can you imagion. The company waited until the manager was arrested before they would fire him--remarkable.

“Sexual harassment is never acceptable, but it is especially troubling when the victims are teenagers,” said EEOC Attorney Adela Santos.
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 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 22, 2011

Sacramento State Professor Who Cost The University $900,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Now Sues The University

In what is a real twist of events Sacramento State professor Wilfrido Corral is suing the University claiming they discriminated against him because of his national origin--Latino. Corral was accused of sexually harassing four students and three professors and cost California State University more than $900,000 to settle sexual harassment claims from some of the women who say he harassed them. According to published accounts, four Sacramento State students complained that Corral had made sexual advances toward them. The advances included taking them to dinner and making sexual comments to them.

The University claims it had good reason to fire Corral. They claim Corral called Professor Buffard a "French whore" and referred to Gelus and Moore (two other professors) as "lesbian bitches" in front of staff and students. Obviously when you make these types of statements you have to expect to have disciplinary action taken against you. If all of the published accounts are true, Corral does not seem to have much of a case and he already cost the University a great deal of money.

"He's tried to twist the whole story and make (the professors) look like the bad guys when they were just trying to do their jobs," The University said


May 21, 2011

ACCLAIM Charter School Pays $41,125 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

ACCLAIM Charter School pays $41,125 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two female employees. According to published accounts Rafael Andaverde, the husband of the owner and director of ACCLAIM sexually harassed two female school employees. Andaverde’s continued to sexually harass the workers even after complaints about it were made to the administration.

This type of behavior is not acceptable and will result in a sexual harassment lawsuit every time. I am glad these two females contacted the EEOC and filed a complaint. The EEOC will monitor the school and ensure this type of behavior does not happen again. Hopefully the man that was doing the sexual harassment has been fired and they no longer have to worry about it happening again. My Chicago office is seeing an increase in sexual harassment cases. If you believe you have been subjected to sexual harassment contact my office at once.

“Employees have an absolute right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.
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May 20, 2011

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

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

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

“Employees who have an official or strong duty to communicate to management are considered part of management,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill
May 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 10, 2011

Dave's Supermarket Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $300,000

Dave’s Supermarket pays $300,000 to four women to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the four women and the allegations were substantial. The lawsuit claims former meat department manager Jugoslav Vidic made repeated and unwanted sexual advances to female employees. The lawsuit further claims that upper management was well aware of Vidic's behavior and refused to stop it.

Details of the sexual harassment included Vidic allegedly exposing himself to a newly hired female employee. When the woman complained to upper management, nothing was done to stop it and there wasn't even an investigation into the incident. Finally Dave’s Supermarket fired Vidic after another female employee complained of sexual harassment. I bet Dave's wishes it had taken the complaints of sexual harassment more serious now that they paid a substantial amount of money. This type of case occurs too often and it should serve as a warning to other companies that conduct like this will cost a great deal in money and negative public perception.

“The decree here sends the same signal to employers that the EEOC has been sending for some time: sexual harassment is prohibited and the EEOC will move swiftly to stop it,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence.
May 8, 2011

Proposed Changes To Illinois Human Rights Act

My Chicago office files many complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The process for filing with the IDHR is governed by the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). Currently the Illinois Assembly is taking a look at updating the Act by proposing two significant changes to the Act. Under the current procedure, a company has 60 days to file a verified response with the IDHR. The new proposal would cut that time down to 30 days. Second, the new proposal would eliminate the fact-finding conference.

I have no problem with the 30 day proposal but do not agree with cutting the fact-finding conference. At the fact-finding conference both sides have an opportunty to get a look at the other sides evidence and person presenting the evidence. In my opinion this increases the chance of settlement and also allows the employee to see what they are up against. For this reason I am opposed to the change and hope the assembly does not approve it. Discrimination cases affected include retaliation and discrimination that creates a hostile work environment.

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May 5, 2011

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

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

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

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

May 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
May 2, 2011

Deana Perry Received $100,000 To Settle Her Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Deana Perry is receiving $100,000 to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit with the Middletown police. According to published accounts, Perry had her house raided in a drug raid and a small amount of marijuana was found. However, the police placed a nude photo of her discovered during a search of her bedroom in a windowsill next to a sticker that read, "Say 'NO' to Drugs ... BUSTED ... Middletown Police Department".

Additionally Perry alleged officers forced her to sit on a barstool in her living room in only a T-shirt and panties in front of her four children and three others she was babysitting. This is an unusual sexual harassment case to say the least. Most sexual harassment cases involve employment and this is more of a civil rights lawsuit. The behavior of the police department is outrageous in this case.

"She feels just like we do – that the settlement is a step in the right direction and that it sends a signal to not just the Middletown Police Department but police departments everywhere that this kind of behavior is unacceptable," said attorney Joshua Autry.
May 1, 2011

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

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

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

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

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April 29, 2011

Asarco LLC's MIssion Mine Must Pay $868,750 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Angela Aguilar who is a former worker at Asarco LLC's Mission Mine has been awarded nearly $868,750 in her sexual harassment lawsuit. According to published accounts Asarco did not stop a supervisor from sexually harassing Aguilar even though she made repeated complaints to management. Aguilar's supervisor would regularly ask her for sex and touch her. The supervisor would also make sexual comments to her and drew a sexual picture of her on a bathroom wall--guy sounds creepy.

Because the company refused to stop the sexual harassment Aguilar quit, which is referred to as a constructive discharge. I bet Asarco wishes they took her sexual harassment claim more serious now. You can see how much money this cost a company when they fail to properly train and supervise employeees. This is a good example of bad management. I am very glad Aguilar hung in there and refused to put up with this type of bebavior.


April 28, 2011

Sexual Harassment and Reporting It To Human Resources

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

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

April 25, 2011

Morgan & Morgan Law Firm Sued For Sexual Harassment

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

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

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

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settles For $79,000

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

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

“Employees should not be subjected to this type of harassing behavior in the modern workplace,” “Employers must act swiftly to correct hostile work environments and prevent employee exposure to such outrageous conduct and retaliation.”said EEOC Attorney Robert Weisberg.
April 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 20, 2011

Deputy Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $900,000

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

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

"If someone rolls over on me, I'll put a bullet in his head," Dery was alleged to have said. "I'll drag him out to the desert and bury him in the desert. The desert is a big place and there are lots of places to hide a body."
April 19, 2011

Lane County Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $82,000

This is a case that should really catch peoples attention because it involves a female Judge--which makes it an unusual sexual harassment case. Former Oregon Justice of the Peace Cynthia Sinclair allegedly sexually harassed Heather Hendrickson while Hendrickson was the court clerk and now Lane County is settling the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Hendrickson for $82,000. It is a shame the county did not take the allegations serious and put a stop to it prior to Hendrickson leaving and suing the county. This is a classic example of what not to do if an employee complains about sexual harassment.

According to published accounts Sinclair resigned last year after a county investigation into a complaint by five employees found she made frequent and unwelcome sexual comments to the women. It is unusual to find female-on-female sexual harassment in the workplace and one involving a judge is even more unusual. Apparently the judge even made sexual type comments in court--whow. If an employee quits her job because of sexual harassment or other types of discrimination it is called a constructive discharge.

County board Chairman Faye Stewart said “I’m hoping this is the end of this and the county and all parties can move on.”
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 16, 2011

Charlene Miles Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With EEOC

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

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

April 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 12, 2011

Havre Eagles Club Pays $193,502 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

KayCee Groven a former employee of the Havre Eagles Club was awarded $193,502 in hera sexual harassment lawsuit against her former employer. In a published decision, it was revealed that Groven's supervisor, Thomas Farnham, repeatedly sexually harassed her over a period of years, forcing her to leave her job when the sexual harassment became so severe she could no longer tolerate it--which is a constructive discharge.

This was a case where the credibility of the witnesses became the focus. In the end the finder of fact found that Groven was the more credible witness. Specifically the fact finder said that Farnham repeatedly grabbed Groven's breasts, buttocks, and crotch, and made inappropriate sexual comments to her. You can see for yourself how much money this cost the company and why it is very important to properly train your employees. In the future I am sure the company will treat sexual harassment allegations more serious.

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 10, 2011

Illinois Firm Pays $8 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

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

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

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

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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 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 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 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 27, 2011

Sexual Harassmant Lawsuit Involving A Judge Settles For $375,000

Former court reporter Kimberly Lee receives $150,000, and former court secretary Sharon McGuyer receives $75,000, with an additional $150,000 going to legal fees in a settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit involving Williamson County judge Don Higginbotham. According to published accounts the Judge told one woman he could not see around her butt. In another instance he was using profanity toward the women. The total payout to the country was $375,000. You can see how much a sexual harassment lawsuit can cost an employer.

This case illustrates that even powerful people like Judge's aren't above the law and can be held accountable. I am glad these two women were strong enough to stand up to the Judge and not just let this case get swept under the rug. As for the Judge, he retired but apparently still comes to the courthouse as a visiting Judge--not sure how wise that is given his past track record and the cost to the county because of him.

Judge Higginbotham said "come here, that he needed help going to the bathroom because it was too heavy for him to hold it up [referring to his penis] because he has a bad back."
March 26, 2011

Former Canton-Potsdam Hospital Nurse Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A former nurse, Theresa Vine,settled her sexual harassment lawsuit against Canton-Potsdam Hospital and psychiatrist Ramon E. Ravelo. According to details which have been published,
Vine, worked as Dr. Ravelo's case manager in the hospital's psychiatric clinic however things began to good very bad for her. She alleged that she was repeatedly threatened and verbally abused while working for Dr. Ravelo.

Additional allegations in the lawsuit include the hospital becoming aware of how Dr. Ravelo treated other females in an unprofessional manner. In once instance the hospital moved one woman to another department after she complained about him. Dr. Ravelo would also loose his temper to the point where he would hit walls and caused a mirror to crash to the floor and fall to pieces. This guy sounds nuts! I am glad to see the case settled and Vine can move on with her life.

"When Theresa Vine approached Dr. Ravelo with work-related questions, he would become enraged," "He would yell at her, belittle her and mock her. Day by day, the level of Dr. Ravelo's anger and abuse escalated." According to the lawsuit

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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

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March 23, 2011

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

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

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

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March 21, 2011

Paramedic Loses Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Kristina Frederick a former paramedic lost her sexual harassment lawsuit when a jury ruled against her. Prior to filing a sexual harassment lawsuit, she had to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Frederick alleged she was sexually harassed by her boss while working for Oldham Emergency Medical Services.

Frederick testified that director Lance Vincent propositioned her for sex while she worked for the department and asked about her sexual preferences. In probably the most damning evidence she said she had intercourse with Vincent. Frederick claims she was given a full-time job that had opened up after having sex with Vincent and says that is why she had sex with him. The lesson here is that if you go to a jury trial and admit you had sex with the boss--it is going to be hard to win. I hope she is able to move on with her life.

"The truth is, she had sex with him because she wanted to,” the other attorney said to the jury.
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 11, 2011

Tips For Victims of Sexual Harassment

My office gets many calls from employees who are the victim of sexual harassment. In many cases the harassor will make comments in a private setting or on the telephone. In Illinois it is illegal to record a telephone conversation without the consent of both parties. It is not illegal however to have the other party leave a vocie message--because they are consenting by leaving the voice message. One piece of advice I tell employees is to ask the person doing the sexual harassment to leave them a voice mail. You can say something like call my cell and tell me what you wish to do and I can review it when I get home. All you are really doing is asking the harassor to put his comments in a medium in which you can save it and then use it to help prove your case.

Another tip is to go back to your desk and memorialize the conversation with the harassor and ask him what he meant because what he said to you was unclear and you were suprised by it. If he doesn't deny the content of the email, that can be utilized at trial and also he may respond with an affirmative statement or he may clarify what he said in an email to such a degree that it helps the case. The important point is to try and get the "private" conversation in a form that can be utilized as evidence to help prove your sexual harassment case.

March 10, 2011

Sexual Harassment By College Professor

It seems that these days going to college will get a female student more than an education. Recently Central Connecticut State University's former chief diversity officer Moises Salinas pleaded no contest to sexually assaulting one of his students. In Illinois if a student has this happen they can file a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR").

According to published accounts, Salinas put his tongue down the throat of student Krystal Rich, now 23 and also he grabbed her crotch while he was trying to kiss her. It is amazing that these types of people are hired by colleges.

Judge Strackbein told Salinas that when parents send their children to college, they reasonably expect that professors will not abuse their authority or position and try to take advantage of students.
March 9, 2011

Underreported Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

Last year the number of sexual harassment cases filed with the EEOC dropped to the lowest it has been in nearly two decades. In 2010, the EEOC reports having only 11,717 new cases, nearly as low as it was in1993, and down from a high of almost 16,000 cases in 1997.

One hopes that that this change marks a healthy shift in our workplace culture, that sexual harassment simply happens less now than it did last year. Certainly efforts to educate employers and well-publicized harassment cases have made a positive impact in some employment settings. The decrease in reported cases, however, does not mean that sexual harassment is actually occurring less. It only means that there are fewer reported cases.

Ms. Ziaja regularly writes about law and policy developments for LegalMatch.

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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."

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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 7, 2011

Student Files Sexual Harassment Complaint Against Ohio University Professor

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

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

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

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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 2, 2011

Female Sheriff Gets $211,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

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

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

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 31, 2011

Blythe Amenson Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $400,000

Blythe Amenson the former Argentine Township fire lieutenant settled her sexual harassment lawsuit with the Township for $400,000. According to published accounts she alleged sexual harassment by a former township fire chief and that the township engaged in gender discrimination once she reported the conduct. She alleged former Fire Chief William Harvey continuously made inappropriate gestures and comments toward her, such as complimenting her figure, offering her a hug and asking about her sexual relations with her husband.

Amenson worked for the fire department for a little more than two-years and was dismissed by the township for having a low fire-run count. The problem with that theory was a male firefighter had the same low fire-run count and he was not fired. This was utilized as the basis for showing the township was treating her different because she was a female and because she reported sexual harassment.

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 22, 2011

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

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

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

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

EEOC Says Firefighter Sexually Harassed

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

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

"There is reasonable cause to believe that the charging party was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her gender and was retaliated against for engaging in a protected activity," the EEOC said.
January 18, 2011

Former Police Officer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $275,000

Suzanne Des Marais a former part-time special law enforcement officer in Plumsted settled her sexual harassment lawsuit with the department for $275,000. According to details alleged in the lawsuit, Marais said Lt. George Titko sexually harassed her and as a result she was unable to continue with her job. While she was being sexually harassed she was also injured on the job and has a worker compensation claim pending against her former employer.

The evidence in this case must have been pretty good for the city to pay this amount of money. In cases where the evidence is lacking, the other side will usually only pay nuisance value to settle the lawsuit. In this case, the city paid a substantial amount and they will still have to pay an additional amount in the workers compensation case. I am glad to see this woman receive a fair amount. You can see by this case how much a sexual harassment case can cost an employer.

“The physical injuries have nothing to do with the psychological or emotional injuries she sustained as a result of the sexual harassment,” said attorney McDermott
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 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 12, 2011

Marriott Las Vegal Resort Sued For Sexual Harassment

JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort, Spa & Golf is being sued for sexual harassment of its female resort staff. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and alleges at least two female restaurant servers at the resort were subjected to aggressive sexual harassment by a male co-worker who later became their supervisor.

Published accounts allege the harasser repeatedly engaged in verbal and physical harassment including rubbing his body against the women, groping them, and consistently making vulgar remarks. This type of conduct is going to cost the company a great deal of money and I will be checking in on this case and reporting back on the final settlement or if there is a trial, the judgment.

"These women worked in fear on a daily basis,” said EEOC attorney Anna Park
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 7, 2011

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

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

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

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


January 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 4, 2011

Secretary Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Kezjar Motors

Jennifer Denise Burch a former secretary of Kezjar Motors filed a sexual harassment and constructive discharge lawsuit against the company. According to court documnets management refused to address a sexual harassment situation resulting in her constructive discharge. Burch began working for Kezjar Motors in 2006 and after about a year one of her co-workers grabbed her and made sexually suggestive comments.

Burch said this happened on multiple occasions and she reported this inappropriate conduct to management. However, management refused to address the sexual harassment. The sexual harassment only got worse and Burch finally had to quit work. When an employee has to quit their job because of sexual harsassment it is also known as a constructive discharge.

The lawsuit says "Feeling that the working circumstances had become unconscionable and unbearable, Ms. Burch felt that she had no choice but to resign in order to preserve her own well-being and dignity."
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.
January 1, 2011

Illinois Wal-Mart Sued For Sexual Harassment

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

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

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

Sexual Orientation and Hostile Work Environments

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

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

December 30, 2010

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 29, 2010

Subway Franchise Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $55,000

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

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

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

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December 28, 2010

Cobra Pavers Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

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

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

“Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in any workplace, and the construction industry is no exception,” said EEOC Attorney Robert Weisberg.
December 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 22, 2010

Omnicare Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $195,000

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

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

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

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December 19, 2010

Spud Seller Inc. Sued For Sexual Harassment

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

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

December 18, 2010

Cheesecake Factory Sued For Sexual Harassment

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

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

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


December 17, 2010

The EEOC Has Record Number of Discrimination Claims

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

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

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

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December 15, 2010

Patton Archery Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $21,000

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

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

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

Waterford Township Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $95,000

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

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

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


December 11, 2010

Securitas Security Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $65,000

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

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

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

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December 8, 2010

Steakhouse Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $250,000

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

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

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

Sexual Harassment and Christmas Parties

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

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

December 6, 2010

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

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

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

December 2, 2010

Jesse James Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $725,000

According to published reports a former high level, female executive with West Coast Choppers settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against Jesse James and West Coast Choppers for more than $725,000. The executive claimed that for several years Jesse James repeatedly made sexual advances, which allegedly included sexual acts.

The woman kept several suggestive emails from James which turned out to be his undoing. The woman also kept a telltale Clintonesque T-shirt after an oral encounter with James. This type of evidence is very powerful and usually results in settlement.

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 22, 2010

Tony's Restaurant Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $75,000

Illinois based Tony’s Restaurant pays $75,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a teenaged hostess and two young female cooks who were subjected to sexual harassment. According to the lawsuit while working at Tony’s Restaurant, Kristie Comer, an 18-year-old high school student, was subjected to sexual harassment. The sexual harassment was perpetrated by Tony’s Lounge vice president, Michael Ventimiglia and included repeated unwelcome sexual advances, touching and sexually explicit comments. In addition to that sexual harassment Ventimiglia subjected at least two other young female employees to similar conduct.

Verntimiglia in no longer working for the company and as part of the settlement the company agreed not to rehire him. This is common in the settlement process and hopefully future employers will take note of this conduct. It is important that employers who hire young women, give extra training in sexual harassment to them and the men that supervise them. The young women need to know their rights and how to file a complaint without fear.

“Sexual harassment of teenage girls is a recurring problem in the restaurant industry,” said James R. Neely, Jr., EEOC attorney. Teenage girls and young women are particularly susceptible to sexual harassment and are frequently targeted by sexual predators."
November 16, 2010

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

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

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

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

Sexual Harassment Cases Increase In Illinois

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

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

November 13, 2010

Police Officer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $750,000

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

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


November 12, 2010

Construction Company Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

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

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

"Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in any workplace, and the construction industry is no exception," said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg.
November 10, 2010

Days Inn Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $50,000

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

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

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

Cactus Grill Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

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

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

“The young woman told the restaurant that she did not want to return to work,” said Paul Pautler, Northstar’s attorney.
November 5, 2010

School Head Investigated For Sexual Harassment

There has been an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by the head of a Gravesend primary school. According to published accounts, the Kent County Council is investigating a sexual harassment claim after a member of staff at Westcourt Primary School came forward with a sexual harassment allegation. The main piece of evidence seems to be an email that if confirmed could be trouble for the school chief. The emails came from Andrew Gould and to a female teacher. It says:

“slags me of (sic) one minute and as nice as pie the next... is it her whoremoans.”

There is not way this type of behavior can be condoned or that this person can keep his position if this email is confirmed. The Kent County Council would be wise to settle this case quickly and put the matter behind them. Sexual harassment cases that drag on and don't settle quickly just cost more in legal fees and also end up costing more in settlement fees.

November 2, 2010

Saline Township Illinois Responds To Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Attorneys for Saline Township are arguing that plaintiffs in six sexual harassment lawsuits filed against it and former Supervisor Alvin Steiner should have their claims dismissed. In those lawsuits the six plaintiffs are: Elizabeth Watkins, Jamie Miener, Laura Barry, Ailie Ritchie, Tara Reding and Melanie Hedlun. All filed virtually identical claims.

But the six women who claim that Steiner sexually harassed and groped them counter that their replies to the motion to dismiss don't concede the case at all. According to published accounts the women claim that Steiner sexually harassed and touched them inappropriately when they came seeking public aid from Saline Township. Steiner has since resigned as township supervisor.

October 28, 2010

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

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

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

October 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 23, 2010

Sony Settles Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuit For $20,000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The law requires employers to take reasonable steps to prevent and to correct racial and sexual harassment,” said David Rivela, EEOC attorney.
October 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 17, 2010

Hostile Work Environment In Illinois

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

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

October 16, 2010

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

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

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

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

"I have a marvelous job to go to. I can put this behind me. I couldn't be more delighted," McPherson.
October 15, 2010

Apple Granted Patent On Sexting--New Development In Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

Apple is showing once again why it is the innovation leader in technology. Apple was just granted a patent that would enforce parental controls on texting and sexting. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") issued Apple patent 7,814,163, which covers "systems, devices, and methods" that allow a user to determine what kind of text-messaging content can be sent or received from a given device. This patent may play a vital role in sexual harassment lawsuit. The patent and related software would allow users to select that messages be blocked entirely or the forbidden content (sexual content) will be removed from the message prior to transmission or as part of the receiving process. This will be accomplished through software that will allow the user to make these selections.

Of course in the workplace, the company issuing the mobile devices can make the selection for its' users. The software seems to be rather sophisticated in that it allows a ratings criteria or a user's age or grade level to determine what kind of words and content will be allowed in text messages, and what will not. Here is the part that may make it a nightmare for employers. Whenever a text message contains inappropriate content, the software alerts the user, the administrator, or other designated individuals of the presence of such text. Talk about putting the pressure on Human Resources.

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October 11, 2010

Prologix Distribution Services Pays $162,400 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Prologix Distribution Services pays $162,400 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published reports, several women who worked as magazine order fillers were subjected to sexual harassment by a longtime supervisor. The sexual harassment included sexually explicit remarks and inappropriate touching. You can see how much this type of behavior cost the company.

In instances where many women are coming forward with the same complaint it usually looks bad for the person being accused. Of course, there are many facts that will ultimately determine whether or not there was actually sexual harassment. In this case, the settlement amount would indicate the company believed there was damaging evidence.

EEOC attorney Kaleb Kasperson said, “Inappropriate touching and lewd comments are perfect examples of conduct which has no place at work. The law requires that the workplace be free from this type of blatant harassment and sexual innuendo.”
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 5, 2010

Magazine Distributor Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $162,400

Prologix Distribution Services a magazine distributor, pays $162,400 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of several female employees. According to published accounts the women worked as magazine order fillers and were subjected to sexual harassment by a longtime supervisor.

The sexual harassment included the making of sexually explicit remarks and inappropriate touching and groping of the women. This type of sexual harassment is the most common and I am glad to see the women take a stand and not let the company or the supervisor get away with it.

“No one should be subjected to this type of harassing conduct in the modern workplace,” said EEOC Attorney Robert Weisberg. “Employers must take appropriate steps to assure that this kind of abuse does not occur.”
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.”
October 1, 2010

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

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

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

"I have a marvelous job to go to. I can put this behind me. I couldn't be more delighted," McPherson said.
September 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 26, 2010

IHOP Pays $105,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

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

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

September 23, 2010

Dentist Sued For Sexual Harassment

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We established a pattern of behavior,” said attorney Gowens
September 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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September 3, 2010

Proving Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

I get calls all the time regarding sexual harassment in the workplace and the most difficult question to answer is how are we going to prove you were the victim of sexual harassment. Most people who engage in sexual harassment are clever and aware of what they are doing. They usually don't leave a large trail of evidence behind them. Now on occasion you would be surprised at how much evidence is left. Some people write long emails or leave damning text messages, but for the most part, the conversations are verbal and one-on-one. So how do you prove a one-on-one conversation?

Well the actual conversation may be hard to prove but there will usually be other pieces of evidence that go along with the conversation. But regarding the conversation, you could always tell the person to call you and leave you a message regarding what was said to be sure you heard him right. Or after the person said all of the stuff to you one-on-one, you could write the person an email and say is this what you said to me, it was so unusual and unexpected I was taken off guard sorry if I acted like I did. Remember the point isn't to set the person up but rather to get them to admit what they already said to you in person.

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September 2, 2010

ABM Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $5.8 Million

ABM Industries Inc., pays the large amount of $5.8 million to 21 female former employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, one employee was actually raped by a supervisor while others were subjected to indecent exposure, groping, asking for sex and trading sex for promotions. This supervisor was out of control and you wonder who was managing him.

It is hard to imagion that this type of outrageous behavior and criminal activity was occuring at a place of business and top management did not know about it. This goes to show you how detached management can be from the day-to-day activities of its' business. You wonder why they call themselves management--what were they managing? In cases like this, once an investigation begins by an outside agency, the truth comes out and usually there is more than one victim. If management were doing its job, this could have been stopped with victim one and the others could have avoided all of the heartache and financial burden caused by the sexual harassment.

“We commend ABM for addressing what we found to be a grave and ominous situation for its female staff,” EEOC AttorneyPark said
August 31, 2010

Grays Harbor Community Hospital Sued For Sexual Harassment

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

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

“Grays Harbor violated the law when it repeatedly failed to take action, despite numerous complaints from its employees concerning the conduct of this supervisor,” said EEOC attorney William R. Tamayo.
August 30, 2010

Pizza Pub Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $40,000

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

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

“Teenage workers are especially vulnerable to sexual harassment in the workplace and must be protected. The EEOC will remain vigilant in its enforcement of federal laws prohibiting such discrimination in the workplace,” said Barbara A. Seely, EEOC attorney.
August 29, 2010

Librarian Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $250,000

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

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

August 28, 2010

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

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

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

"My feelings are it is a decent outcome," said BU interim president C. Peter Magrath.
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 23, 2010

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

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

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

“Just because the creator of Cheaters promotes a TV show business which thrives on featuring sexual transgressions, it is no justification for engaging in sexual improprieties which violate the employment rights of his female employees behind the scenes,” said EEOC Attorney Robert A. Canino
August 20, 2010

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

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

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

“We commend Atlantic Services for taking steps to rectify the hostile work environment that persisted at Mercury Air Centers,” said Anna Park, EEOC attorney.
August 11, 2010

Illinois Human Rights Act Trumps Title VII On Sexual Harassment

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

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

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August 10, 2010

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

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

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

August 9, 2010

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

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

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

Crowe said, “It is possible because of medical conditions, but never in the way that these complainants have said.”
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.
August 3, 2010

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

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

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

A police dispatcher told her he would like to "bend her over."
August 2, 2010

Restaurant Pays $170,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

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

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

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 29, 2010

ServiceMaster and Terminix International Sued For Sexual Harassment

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

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

“Employers who subject individuals to harassment based on sex are violating federal law,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC.
July 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 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 16, 2010

Police Officers Receive $300,000 In Their Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Two police officers won a sexual harassment lawsuit and received $300,000. The person who did the sexual harassment was an openly gay male colleague in the New York Police Department. According to details of the lawsuit, Lt. Kieran Crowe sexually harassed Sgt. Dominic Coppola and Sgt. Sean Gallagher. The sexual harassment included Crowe making sexually explicit gestures with his hands and his tongue at the male officers. One of the manual gestures the officers complained about was Crowe allegedly rubbing his crotch in front of them.

In a remarkable defense strategy, Crowe testified that if he had rubbed his crotch, it was due to medical conditions. He even brought in a medical expert and his dermatologist confirmed that Crowe had suffered from jock itch. The administrative law judge did not buy that rubbish and awarded the large amount to the two men. Sexual harassment does not just involve members of the opposite sex. Same sex harassment or harassment based on sexual orientation is also against the law and if you are subjected to it, you may be entitled to monetary damages.

EEOC lawyer Ernest Haffner said, "It’s certainly possible that there’s more sexual harassment of men going on, but it could just be that more men are coming forward and complaining about it."
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 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 7, 2010

Police Dispatcher Seeks $250,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Linda Lanosa who is a police dispatcher claims she experienced repeated sexual harassment at work and is suing for $250,000. In her lawsuit Lanosa claims Sgt. Brian Thies made comments about her breasts and asked her to flash him in the bathroom, among other things. Lanosa also accused Thies of performing a lewd act that he broadcast over the police radio. State police conducted an investigation that exonerated him. This case sounds like it will be a real battle.

The town questioned the validity of Lanosa's claims, saying that any workplace issues should have been reported to a town official immediately and noted she waited a long period of time before complaining. I see this happen often where someone is the victim of sexual harassment and they wait a long time to report it. There are many reasons for this, sometimes the person thinks they can handle the problem and doesn't want to rock the boat.

“There's nothing the town did against Linda Lanosa,” Mayor Dunn said. “The taxpayers shouldn't have to bear the brunt of this.”
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.

Continue reading "Proving Your Sexual Harassment Lawsuit" »

July 5, 2010

Restaurant Pays $170,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Chilbo Myunok USA LLC, a Korea-based food company which owns a Los Angeles restaurant and a chain of fast-food stores in Korea, pays $170,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of waitresses. According to published reports the waitresses were sexually harassed at the Chilbo Myunok restaurant and four of them were forced to quit to escape the harassment--this is commonly referred to as a constructive discharge. When the harassment gets too severe and a person can no longer work because of the harassment they are forced to quit and this is a separate discriminatory act that is compensatable.

Details of the lawsuit include the victims facing continuous verbal and physical sexual harassment from the restaurant's manager. The manager, who has since been fired, repeatedly subjected the women to sexual touching with a sexual device and to unwanted hugging and kissing. The EEOC many times will take up cases where there are more than one victim and they can get more bang for the buck. If there were only one waitress the chances are the EEOC would issue a right to sue letter and the waitress would be left to hire a private attorney to continue the lawsuit. In Illinois I prefer to file directly with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") which automatically cross-files with the EEOC. I believe the IDHR does a faster and more thorough job than the EEOC of investigating individual charges.

"By working with EEOC this way, Chilbo Myunok has clearly shown its commitment to making needed changes to policies and practices to ensure equal employment opportunities for all of Chilbo Myunok's employees," said EEOC's Perry.
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.

Continue reading "Woman Receives $450,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit" »

July 2, 2010

EPI Advanced Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $190,000

EPI Avanced a company that makes plastic injection moldings pays $190,000 to settle a sexual harassment case which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of several female workers. According to published reports, a male supervisor and a male co-worker made sexually explicit comments and propositions toward the females workers and it even escalated into physical contact. In some instances women were grabbed and touched.

The allegations of sexual harassment were brought to the attention of management, but management failed to stop the sexual harassment. I bet after paying $190,000 management will take allegations and complaints of sexual harassment more serious in the future. It amazes me that a company could take such a neutral stance toward sexual harassment and didn't spend more time investigating the problem and fixing it. I am glad these females pursued their claim and made the company pay. Good job for hanging in there and fighting for their rights.

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.

Continue reading "Adecco Staffing Pays $12,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit" »

June 27, 2010

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Yields $190,000 Settlement

EPI Advanced, LLD and Engineered Products Industries, LLC will pay $190,000 to settle a sexual harassment and constructive discharge lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Cathy Johnson. According to details of the allegations, both companies allowed Dean Miller and other male co-workers to sexually harass Johnson and seven other women. The women claimed that they were forced to put up with all types of sexually explicit comments and propositions.

Some of the woman claimed they were grabbed and touched by Miller. Several women quit because of the sexual harassment, which is referred to as constructive discharge. One woman quit her job after Miller phoned her at work threatening to sexually assault her in the employee parking lot. Although several complaints were made by victims to management, the company failed to properly investigate complaints and stop the misconduct. It is amazing that a company could let this type of behavior continue and do nothing to stop it. I bet the company is taking a different approach now.

Celia Liner, EEOC attorney, said, “The environment at EPI was simply intolerable. Women should be able to report to work and do their jobs without being subjected to harassment."
June 24, 2010

Sonic Drive-In Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $55,000

Two Sonic Drive-In franchises pay $55,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the . Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of teenage female workers. According to the filed documents in the lawsuit Sonic routinely subjected teenaged female employees to abuse by a manager and others, including threatening one young worker with a knife. The EEOC also contended that this manager permitted and encouraged other male employees and managers to join in the harassing conduct.

The details in the lawsuit include Aracely DeLeon, a 16-year-old employee, who was forced to quit due to sexual harassment by the manager, and another young employee, Elizabeth Maxwell, then age 17, was also subjected to sexually harassing conduct by the manager. This kind of behavior against teenages is outrageous. The EEOC did a great job and held the company's feet to the fire.

“This lawsuit was filed in order to protect some of our nation’s most vulnerable and impressionable workers – teenagers who, often, are newcomers to the workplace,” said Jim Sacher, the EEOC’s regional attorney
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 16, 2010

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

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

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

June 13, 2010

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

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

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

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

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 5, 2010

Starbucks Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed By Teenager

Coffee giant Starbucks settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a teenager who claims she was subjected to sexual harassment by an older manager. The settlement comes less than a month before the sexual harassment trial. The settlement amount is unknown at this time as the parties signed a confidentiality agreement as part of the settlement which is common. The lawsuit alleged Kati Moore who was sixteen at the time she was working at Starbucks was sexually harassed by her manager and he attempted to have sex with her. Moore complained about the sexual harassment but Starbucks did not stop the harassment.

Moore's case was featured on the television investigative series "20/20" as part of an investigation into the sexual harassment of teens in the workplace. In seems to be a more common occurance in the workplace where young vulnerable female workers are under the control of poorly trained male managers.

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 22, 2010

Cactus Grill Sued For Sexual Harassment

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

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

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


May 21, 2010

Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders Sued For Sexual Harassment

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

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

May 19, 2010

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settled for $188,000 Against Kendall County Illinois Sheriff Department

Former Kendall County Illinois Sheriff's Department worker Lisa Easi will receive $188,000 to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit against Terry Tichava, the chief deputy in the Kendall County Sheriff's Department. Easi was a twenty year veteran of the department and was Tichava's secretary at the time she was fired.

This case was getting closer to trial and many times the defendant will start to look at the total amount it may have to pay if it losses at trial. Sexual Harassment lawsuits because of their emotional nature can produce large awards. Many times a defendant is not willing to risk the details of all the testimony coming out and the potential of a large jury verdict. With a settlement amount this large, the testimony must have been damaging and there was obviously something of substance to this lawsuit.

In Illinois before you file a sexual harassment lawsuit in fedearl court you must first file a claim of discrimination which includes sexual harassment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). If you file with the IDHR they will automatically file with the EEOC.


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 17, 2010

Kentucky Fried Chicken Pays $1 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Kentucky Fried Chicken will pay 19 female employees more than $1 million to a settle sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of 19 female workers. Looks like they were frying more than chicken at this place.

According to the lawsuit male employees openly described sexual desires and interests with female employees and engaged in unwelcome sexual touching and groping. What is really shocking is that three of the women were teenagers at the time. Paying this large amount of money will make the owners think long and hard about how they operate their business in the future.

"The allegations in this case were shocking," said EEOC District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas.
May 16, 2010

Illinois Business Owner Pays $49,000 In Sexual Harassment Case

Ferdinarn Wilhelm who owns Decatur Rentals must pay $49,000 after a hearing in a sexual harassment case before the city's Human Relations Commission. The commission found Wilhelm guilty of sexual harassment against former employee Sally Nailer. During the trial it was alleged Wilhelm repeatedly sexually harassed her and other female employees. The settlement amount was broken down as $10,000 in back pay, $25,000 in emotional damages, and nearly $14,000 in attorney's fees.

Nailer worked for Wilhelm as a secretary and according to testimoney, Nailer accused Wilhelm of feigning a severe injury in order to force her to essentially act as a nurse. This nurse care included dressing him, cooking all of his meals and making trips to his house in the middle of the night for odd or seemingly unnecessary requests. At the same time this was going on, Nailer claims Wilhelm made sexual comments and unwanted sexual advances toward her. There were over ten witnesses that testified in this case.

May 13, 2010

Edinboro University Pays $495,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania pays $495,000 to Cameron Aulnero a former student to settle his sexual harassment lawsuit. According to the lawsuit Aulnero was sexually harassed by a professor and university officials knowingly allowed the sexual harassment to continue. Details of the lawsuit include professor William Chandler, who died in December, asking Aulnero out on dates and making references to the movie Brokeback Mountain, suggesting Aulner and a classmate were in a homosexual relationship.

Aulnero claims the sexual harassment made him fear for his grade in the class and that he suffered depression, anger and anxiety as a result of the harassment. I am seeing more and more cases of sexual harassment in a University setting. Professor's have a great deal of power and influence over their students. In this case, the professor used his position of power to try to manipulate the student, but in the end the student prevailed. The University should take a hard look at its' policy on sexual harassment and treat complaints in a more professional and serious manner. Good for Mr. Aulnero for standing up for himself and making the University account for itself.

May 11, 2010

Western State Hospital Pays $995,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Jackie Delgado a former Western State Hospital employee who alleged she was a victim of sexual harassment settled her lawsuit with her former employer for $995,000. According to terms of the settlement the state Department of Social and Health Services ("DSHS") and the Washington Federation of State Employees will each put in money to settle the lawsuit. DSHS says the state will pay $795,000 and the union will pay $200,000.

Delgado filed a lawsuit claiming sexual harassment against the state, the union and former hospital risk manager Barrette Green. She claimed Green sexually harassed her for years and the state did nothing about it despite repeated complaints against him. Her allegations included that Green pressured her into a sexual relationship, made unwanted comments at work about her body and once pointed an unloaded gun at her and pulled the trigger three times. It is amazing that a person like Green was able to keep his job as long as he did. This kind of behavior is not only wrong it is scarey.

"I’m glad it’s over,” “I definitely didn’t win, but I got to end it.” Delgado 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 9, 2010

Everdry Marketing Pays $471,096 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Everdry Marketing and Management, a dry wall company, had a jury rule against them and award $471,096 in damages for a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of 13 female workers. The case concerned a prolonged period of physical and verbal sexual harassment of mostly teenage telemarketers by male managers and co-workers at Everdry’s Rochester, N.Y., location. According to the lawsuit the sexual harassment included repeated demands for sex, frequent groping, sexual jokes and constant comments about the bodies of women employees. On one occasion, a male manager requested sex from a teenager with the promise of a raise if she consented.

This is a follow-up article to the May 6, 2010 article written about this case. The amounts of money involved and the number of teenagers involved make this case worth mentioning twice. Hopefully the company will institute some real changes in the workplace.

“Many of the victims in this case were young and especially vulnerable,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.
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.

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

May 6, 2010

Everdry Marketing Pays Almost $500,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Everdry Marketing and Management Inc. pays $471,096 in damages and $86,581 in post-judgment interest to 13 victims of sexual harassment. According to the complaint, there was a prolonged period of physical and verbal sexual harassment of telemarketers, most of whom were teenagers, by male managers and co-workers at Everdry’s office. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed the complaint on behalf of the female workers.

Cases like this show what can happend when people are put in charge of workers and don't have the proper training. It would be impossible to sexually harass 13 women without people realizing what is going on. Look how much money this type of behavior cost the company. It would make more sense to just properly train and manage your people.

“The 13 women in this case had to endure vicious sexual harassment and then live it again through their testimony in pre-trial depositions and the trial,” said Robert Rose, the supervisory trial attorney for EEOC.
April 30, 2010

Lafayette College Pays $1 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Lafayette Colleg pays $1,000,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of five female employees. According to the lawsuit, the college’s supervisor in charge of “loss prevention” engaged in repeated and unwelcome sexual harassment of the women in the public safety department. The supervisor allegedly kissed the women and made hand gestures about sex acts he wanted them to perform.

Probably the most damaging evidence was that he e-mailed pornography and sexually explicit materials to the women. Email is turning out to be the best evidence because it is very hard to deny and it is something you can put in front of a jury and it is self explainatory. Colleges and employers would be wise to step up their sexual harassment and discrimination training to all employees to ensure this type of behavior does not happen. You can see how costly this type of behavior is.

“No one should have to endure the abuse these women faced at work,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “This significant settlement shows that the EEOC will insist on meaningful relief for workers who are victims of harassment.”
April 29, 2010

County Worker Awarded $150,000 For Sexual Harassment

A jury awarded $150,000 to Josie Puglisi for her sexual harassment lawsuit. According to Puglisi, a male co-worker sexually harassed her for months and she repeatedly complained to management but they failed to stop the harassment. According to testimony a male co-worker snuck up behind Puglisi and bit and licked her ear. Puglisi said she immediately reported the alleged incident to a supervisor, but that the county waited five months to discipline him and to keep him away from her.

I will never understand why companies don't take action immediately. In this case the county will have to pay a good deal of money just because it didn't act quickly. At trial the county admitted it took too long to act. It is nice to see someone stick up for themselves and pursue the claim to the end. Hopefully companies will take sexual harassment more serious in the future.

"It was a relief to know that they owned up to it, and that no other woman will have to go through this," Puglisi said after the verdict. "
April 27, 2010

Chevrolet Dealership Pays $120,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment, Gender Discrimination and Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Preston Hood Chevrolet pays $120,000 to settle a sexual harassment, gender discrimination and racial discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuits were filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of females employees and Rickey Hayes. According to the lawsuits Preston Hood subjected a class of female employees to gender harassment and to sexually explicit, provocative and insulting language, pornographic material and unwelcome sexual advances.

Additionally, Preston Hood subjected Rickey Hayes to racial discrimination because he was black. Details of that harassment include, racial slurs and racially derogatory language. In both cases, the employees complained to management and nothing was done to stop or correct the harassment. You would think management would have the brains to realize that with so many people coming forward and complaining something bad must be going on. Many times management likes to put its head in the sand and take the approach that if they just ignore the problem it will go away. That was a costly mistake in this case.

“Every employee deserves the freedom to work in an environment free from any form of harassment,” EEOC attorney Delner Franklin-Thomas said.
April 26, 2010

County Pays $1.59 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Middlesex County will pay $1.59 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the sheriff department. Former sheriff’s officers Joan Ivan and Angel Jazikoff, alleged they were subjected to years of sexual propositions, innuendo and lewd, offensive behavior. This county recently paid $1 Million to settle another sexual harassment lawsuit which was filed by five women. You would think this sheriffs department would get their act together and spend some time fighting crime.

Ivan was an officer from 1999 to 2003, when she was fired after failing to pass a qualification test with her service weapon. Garrigan claims she was fired in retaliation for bringing the lawsuit. According to court documents, in March 2002, then county personnel Director Thomas Cross directed Sheriff Spicuzzo to reprimand an officer, but the officer was told no action would be taken. This case took seven years to settle and you can see how long it takes for cases to settle sometimes.

"It was on-going sexual and gender harassment. Individuals were accused of creating a hostile work environment,” said Jeffrey Garrigan, one of the lawyers for the two women.
April 24, 2010

Lafayette College Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $1 Million

Lafayette College pays $1 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by female employees. According to the lawsuit a campus police officer sexually harassed the females and subjected them to other lewd behavior. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of five women. According to the lawsuit the five women allege officer Barry Stauffer continued harassing them even after they complained about him to administrators.

Some of the details of the lawsuit include claims that Stauffer grabbed the breasts and buttocks of female employees,made lewd comments describing sex acts he wanted to perform on them, tried to look inside their shirts at their breasts, and unsnapped their bras. And probably the most damaging evidence was that he sent women e-mails with pornographic content. This type of behavior can expose a college to a great deal of liability as evidenced by the million dollar settlement.

''No one should have to endure the abuse that these women faced at work,'' said EEOC Chairwoman Jacqueline A. Berrien.


Continue reading "Lafayette College Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $1 Million" »

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 21, 2010

SDI Athens East Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $70,000

SDI Athens East, LLC, doing business as Sonic and Tomco Management, LLC, pays $70,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a carhop. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the female worker who claimed she was the subject of sexual comments and other sexual type behavior.

The lawsuit alleged the store manager of a Sonic drive-in restaurant subjected a female carhop to a barrage of sexually charged comments and repeated sexual overtures. The lawsuit also states that the comments and conduct by the manager were so severe that the female was forced to resign, which is also known as constructive discharge. Cases like this illustrate why better training should be held in the workplace. Hopefully, this company will get the message that sexual harassment is not tolerated.

“The abuse suffered in this case is precisely the kind behavior that Title VII was enacted to stop” said Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the EEOC.
April 12, 2010

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

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

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

April 8, 2010

Male Deputy Awarded $350,000 In Sexual Harassment Case

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It is critical that employers understand what constitutes sexual harassment, and that they take allegations of harassment seriously," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
April 3, 2010

Auto Dealer Sued For Sexual Harassment

Twenty Three year old Katherine Salas filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Bical Chevrolet. According to published reports, some of the top men at the car dealership snapped her bra, whacked her rear end with a backscratcher and hounded her with sexual advances. Salas also alleges that things got so bad for her that she quit her job which is referred to as constructive discharge. Salas only worked for the dealership for six weeks as their receptionist and things must have been very bad if she had to quit.

In a good piece of luck for Salas and bad news for the dealership, general manager Charles Albanese sent Salas suggestive text messages. This is starting to be the best type of evidence of sexual harassment. The general manager will have a hard time explaining those messages. People should be aware that even if a text message is deleted on a cell phone, with the right software, the text message can still be retrieved from that cell phone. In male dominated fields like auto sales, there seems to be a culture of harassment toward females. Lets hope this lawsuit helps put an end to this type of behavior.

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 30, 2010

IRS Agent Seeks $6 Million In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

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

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

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

March 18, 2010

Sexual Harassment and Text Messages

With the rise in technology and the use of cellular telephones equipted with keypads, there has been a rise in the use of text messages by employees. Because of this common form of communications, there is a potential abundance of evidence in sexual harassment cases. This new evidence is in the form of the text message. There are several issues with text messages that one should consider if they are to be utilized as evidence in a sexual harassment lawsuit. First, many people have the mistaken belief that if they delete the text message the cellular phone company can still retrieve the contents of the message from their computers--wrong. Although a deleted message will still be stored in the memory on the phone itself for a period of time, the cellular phone company will only have a record that there was a text sent and received, but not what the message said. How long the deleted message stays on the phone will depend on the model of the phone, the memory storage capability of the phone or more precisely the storage card of the phone and how much data is transmitted and received by that phone.

The second issue with text messages is how do you get the message off the phone so that it may be utilized as evidence. Some model phones will allow you to download the messages and then print them out. For models that don't have this capability, you can take a picture of the message to reveal the contents and phone number which sent the message. Another and better option is to forward the text message to your email account for storage and printing. Many cell phone users are not aware of this option but it should be considered. Discrimination lawsuits are on the rise and it is imperative that people become aware of the type of evidence they have at their disposal to help prove their case.

March 15, 2010

Money Mart Ordered To Pay $30,000 For Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Money Mart must pay $30,000 after losing a sexual harassment lawsuit. According to the lawsuit Money Mart refused to properly investigate complaints about a manager at one of its Toronto stores. The problems for Money Mart started when Marjorie Harriott was sexually harassed by her manager. The sexual harassment consisted on her manager making inappropriate comments, steering at her breasts and buttocks and touching her. Apparently Harriott along with several other women complained to upper management but nothing was done to stop the sexual harassment.

This kind of settlement should send a message that complaints of sexual harassment must be investigated and taken seriously. Here you had several women complaining about this type of unprofessional behavior and still nothing was done to stop it. In the end Money Mart had to pay a substantial amount for its' failure to do a proper investigation into the discrimination claims.

"What the tribunal is saying in this case is that you have to fully and fairly investigate when allegations come to your attention," Sellar said.
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 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 10, 2010

Landwin Management Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit for $500,000

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") settled two lawsuits against Landwin Management, Inc. for $500,000. The lawsuits involved national origin discrimination and sexual harassment. According to facts in the lawsuit non-Chinese banquet servers were not hired based on their national origin. Apparently all the non-Chinese banquet servers who previously worked for the hotel were not hired back during the turnover and instead replaced with less qualified Chinese workers. The EEOC alleges that the majority of the replaced workers were Latino.

Additionallty, Landwin Management which managed the San Gabriel Hilton subjected female employees to sexual harassment. Allegations of sexual harassment included the housekeeping department supervisor calling the women prostitutes and whores. The women complained to management and nothing was done to stop the sexual harassment. You can see how much money this ended up costing the company--not much of a cost savings. The company also has to deal with the negative publicity.

“The days when employers make decisions based on stereotypes and assumptions shaped by the race or national origin of their employees should be far behind us,” said Anna Y. Park, the regional attorney for the EEOC.
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 28, 2010

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

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

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

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

"The EEOC believes the court's decisions in the case were wrongfully decided and the agency will be appealing," said EEOC Deputy General Counsel James Lee.
February 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 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 19, 2010

EEOC Complaints Can Be Faxed

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") can be faxed instead of filed in person or through the mail. If you have a charge of discrimination, whether based on gender, race, religion or sexual harassment you have to file the charge within 180 with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or 300 days with the EEOC. The IDHR has always allowed for complaints to be filed by fax but the EEOC never recognized fax filings. In Laouini v. CLM Freight Lines, Inc. the Seventh Circuit held that a receipt showing a fax was sent to the EEOC is sufficient to prove the date of filing.

It is always very important to remember that there are very strict time limits to filing a charge of discrimination. You must not procrastonate and let too much time slip away. In some instances an employer may drag out the internal investigation so that by the time you receive the internal findings of the company, more than 180 days has passed and you can't file a charge with the IDHR.

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February 17, 2010

U.S. Security Associates Must Pay $2.4 Million In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

U.S. Security Associates Inc. must pay Jamie Marks $2.4 million because she was sexually harassed at work. The sexual harassment lawsuit, filed in federal court claims that Jamie Marks was repeatedly propositioned by Chris Hargrove for sex. Additionally it was claimed that Hargrove inappropriately touched her. In a remarkable piece of testimony Marks claims that Hargrove masturbated in front of her. Marks made complaints to management about the incidents and nothing happened.

Another lawsuit is pending against U.S. Security Associates in federal court with six plaintiffs all alleging sexual harassment. This is a good example of what not to do if you are a company. Can you imagion that a supervisor is engaging in this type of behavior and the company does nothing to stop it. It turns out that this level of ignorance was costly to the company as they are $2.4 million dollars lighter.

"There was a level of arrogance on the part of the company," Haynes said. "They weren't going to do anything about Hargrove."
February 16, 2010

Monica Everson Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $235,000

For city of Madison worker Monica Everson settled her sexual harassment lawsuit with the city of Madison for $235,000. Everson in her lawsuit claims she was groped and fondled over 500 times during the course of her employment. She claims the sexual harassment took place at the hands of her boss Robert D'Angelo who resigned after the claims were made.

Everson has been on disability after she came forward with her claims and as part of the settlement she will resign from the city payroll and the city maintains its denial of her charges. Many times as part of a settlement, the employer will deny that it did anything wrong. However, money doesn't just talk it swears and in this case the money would seem to indicate that the city felt there was merit to the claims of sexual harassment.

February 15, 2010

Female Police Officer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $130,000

A female police officer who wishes to remain anonymous settled her sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit against the city of Port Allen for $130,000. Although some details remain sealed some details include that on Dec. 4, 2006, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") issued a letter to the city stating that the Police Department had engaged in gender discrimination for disciplining an employee more harshly than other officers. The problems got worse and on Sept. 1, 2006 the EEOC issued a second letter asserting that the same employee was the subject of sexual harassment and the city failed to take appropriate action to correct the problem. This sealed the fate for the city.

In cases like this sometimes remaining out of the public spotlight is very important to the person who is the subject of discrimination. The fact that the EEOC issued two letters and the city paid $130,000 indicates that something wrong was taking place at the police department. It is important to hold those responsible by filing a complaint and following through with the process.

“I don’t totally agree with the settlement, but I understand that the council did what they felt was in the best interests of the city,” said Mayor Derek Lewis
February 12, 2010

High Cost of Sexual Harassment

Middlesex County will pay almost $1 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by five female sheriff’s officers against the county and sheriff’s department. You can see by these numbers how expensive sexual harassment complaints can be. The settlement – reached last May – awarded $522,980 to Officers Laury Hamilton, Eileen Mazzei, Gail Decibus-Cuffe, Janet Martinez, and Donna Karlson. As part of the settlement, the county also agreed to pay $327,020 in legal fees.

According to details in the lawsuit the five women were subjected to sexual harassment by various members of the Sheriff’s Office. The workers who did the sexual harassment were supervisors and also co-workers. The county did not take the complaints seriously--I bet they do now. The county disputes the validity of the complaints and claims to be settling because of the high cost of litigation.

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 7, 2010

Former Police Woman Gets $275,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Suzanne DesMarais settled her sexual harassment lawsuit with the County after allegedly being sexually harassed by Lt. George Titko.Titko was in charge of the police department and DesMarais was under his control and while under his contrrol DesMarais alleged Titko sent her sexually suggestive text messages and left sex toys on her desk. Additionally he photographed her backside and subsequently posted the photo on the wall of the department.
Many times text messages can make or break a lawsuit. It was a good thing that she retained the messages.

In these types of cases people in power sometimes believe they can do anything they want and no one can stop them. This should let everyone know who was honest and right in the claim. In a time when local governments are cutting budgets, this is a good deal of money and this settlement will not sit well with taxpayers but the county has no one to blame but themselves.

"The (officers) of the department have stood by me and supported me through this whole process," said DesMarais "They backed me up 110 percent while I was on duty and since."
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February 5, 2010

Hilton Hotel Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $500,000

Latino workers who filed a racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit against Hilton Hotels settled their sexual harassment lawsuit for $500,000. The problem started when Landwin Management Inc. took over management of the Hilton hotel in 2005, some Latino banquet servers were fired and replaced with less qualified Chinese workers. The Latino employees contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") which filed the lawsuit on the workers behalf.

According to Landwin they agreed to settle because they wanted to avoid expensive litigation costs that might lead to even more job losses at the hotel. That is a real laugh. Settling a lawsuit for half a million is a tacit admission of guilt even if the hotel won't come out and claim it. The bottom line is that most businesses only care about saving money and cutting costs and if they have to trample on the rights of employees, they really don't care. This is a classic example of that.

"If you can show that the job required certain special skills that could only be filled by Chinese speakers, that would be a different matter," said Derek Li, the supervisory trial attorney for the EEOC.


February 3, 2010

Gail Wilcox Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $180,000

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

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

February 1, 2010

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

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

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

January 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 24, 2010

Heavy Machine Operator Awarded $47,000 in Sexual Harassment Case

Tammy Ratzlaff a female heavy-duty machine operator was awarded $47,000 by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal after she was sexually assaulted by the owner of Abbotsford construction company, Albert Rondeau. The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal is the same as the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the Illinois Human Rights Commission. Ratzlaff testified that Rondeau was old enough to be her father and she believed he would be a mentor and teach her the various aspects of the job. Things began to change and within a month of starting her new job Rondeau began to make sexual advances to her and once in the office grabbed her buttocks and tried to hug her while saying sexually offensive remarks.

One of the job requirements was for Ratzlaff to stay overnight in hotels because the jobs required travel. The problem was Rondeau would stay at the same hotel. The sexual harassment was so obvious that other members of the crew knew of her predicament and offered to escort her to and from her room. They also made efforts to ensure she would not be left alone with Rondeau while in the hotel complex. Even with these best efforts however there as an early morning meeting and she ended up alone with Rondeau in his room and he took the opportunity to say he found her attractive and wanted to have sex with her.

The sexual harassment culminated on the evening of Nov. 25 when Ratzlaff was in her motel room and opened the door upon hearing a knock. Rondeau forced his way in, grabbed her throat and kissed her "aggressively, forcing his tongue into her mouth while he grabbed her breasts and tried to get his hands into her vagina. She kneed him in the thigh but he repeated his conduct.

Ratzlaff said the experiences left her "devastated, scared and traumatized."


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 15, 2010

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Overture Center Settled

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

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

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

Female Prison Guards Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $2.5 Million

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

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

“We had names and dates and places. Some women were asked to join in prostitution rings that were run by lieutenants, and that was substantiated because [one] lieutenant’s partner was arrested for running a prostitution ring,” by Hartford police, attorney Ponvert said.
January 12, 2010

Crowell Pays $21,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

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

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

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

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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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