This is an Advertisement

Articles Posted in Sexual Harassment

Published on:

Known as the sponsor of the 2010 World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Alltech is an international company based in Nicholasville, Kentucky that produces animal feed, a beef product, coffee and alcoholic beverages. According to a lawsuit against the company that recently settled, it also allegedly produces a hostile work environment for female employees.

A woman who worked for Alltech for about four years filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company in May 2011. She had allegedly been harassed by her boss for the duration of her employment. The harassment ranged from sexual calls and emails to actually being locked in a conference room and inappropriately touched by him. She also claims that other employees were sexually harassed by her boss and others, stating “The culture and leadership at Alltech created an environment which fostered and condoned acts of sexual harassment.”

The employee allegedly reported the situation to her boss’s supervisor who told her not to worry about it because she was a strong woman and could take care of herself. In April 2011 she went to someone who worked outside the company – an auditor – and reported what had been happening. It was announced shortly thereafter that all emails over a year old would no longer be kept, and Alltech began an investigation into the sexual harassment allegations. Her boss resigned from the company, but was kept on for special projects at the beginning of May 2011.

Then on May 17, the company stated that any employee disputes would be handled through arbitration rather than through the courts. The employee was told this new policy would cover her complaints even though she had complained before the policy was put in place. The employee did not agree with this policy and she left the company and filed a lawsuit on May 20, 2011. Alltech tried to have the lawsuit dismissed based on their new arbitration policy, but the courts said the employee had not agreed to the policy and the case was allowed to proceed. To avoid having depositions taken of their executives and other employees, the company agreed to settle the lawsuit with the Kentucky worker for an undisclosed amount.
Continue reading

Published on:

Maker’s Mark is known across the country for its ability to make bourbon in Kentucky. On April 6, the Kentucky employment law firm of Miller & Falkner filed a lawsuit against Maker’s Mark on behalf of five female employees of the distillery. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, alleges that Maker’s Mark broke numerous state and federal laws.

The female workers allege in the complaint that their troubles started before and got worse after answering a survey distributed by Maker’s Mark. The survey asked employees to tell if they had ever experienced or witnessed sexual harassment or any other type of discrimination at work. The five women answered positively, and they claim they have been treated negatively since then.

Before the survey, the women say they were subjected to a hostile work environment. This situation can occur in a variety of ways, but ultimately it makes the workers feel uncomfortable enough at work that they may consider quitting. In this case the women claim that indecent exposure occurred, inappropriate birthday cards were sent, and sexual encounters were retold while they were trying to work. This type of behavior from co-workers made Maker’s Mark and uncomfortable place to work for them.

The lawsuit also alleges that they were victims of sexual harassment. One type of sexual harassment occurs when someone is subjected to unwanted sexual advances or is propositioned. This is the type of harassment that the women encountered at the distillery. Discrimination based on an employee’s gender was also noted by the women. They state that they were denied certain positions and were not promoted on certain occasions simply because they were women.
Continue reading

Published on:

Paula Deen continues to be in the news, this time as a defendant in a lawsuit for sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment. The popular TV show host co-owns a restaurant with her brother, Bubba Hiers, in Savannah. Uncle Bubba’s is the name of the restaurant where the alleged harassment took place.

Lisa Jackson, the general manager of Uncle Bubba’s for five years, has filed a lawsuit claiming she was sexually harassed and subjected to a hostile work environment while working at the restaurant. The sexual harassment allegedly occurred in several different ways. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Hiers frequently made sexual advances toward Ms. Jackson, watched pornography in their shared office, and said things that were very offensive. Ms. Jackson’s claim also states that when Ms. Deen promoted her to general manager of the restaurant, she said she was “going to do something I’ve never done. I’m going to put a woman in a man’s job.”

Sexual harassment can take different forms. Sometimes it is sexual in nature, such as when Mr. Hiers allegedly watched pornography in their office and made sexual advances towards Ms. Jackson. It can also occur when derogatory remarks are made about a person’s gender in general, which is what Ms. Deen supposedly did when she said she was going to give a man’s job to a woman. Ms. Jackson also claims she was paid less than her male counterparts in the restaurant industry. These types of harassment can make an employee feel uncomfortable in the workplace and result in a hostile work environment. In many cases, if the sexual advances are turned down, or if the employee reports the sexual harassment, the harasser may retaliate by wrongfully terminating an employee. Ms. Jackson is not claiming wrongful termination because she voluntarily left the job based on the advice of a physician who said working at the restaurant was detrimental to her mental well-being.
Continue reading

Published on:

Brittany McMahon wanted to be a firefighter, so she joined the Carlsbad fire department to complete her year-long probationary period in January, 2010. According to Ms. McMahon, she completed all tasks assigned to her and passed her physical tests, some of which she believes were made even harder for her than her male counterparts.

While living at the station on her work days, she was allegedly subjected to sexual harassment, such as being pulled toward a male firefighter by her belt loops and being offered assistance with showering. Online comments about female toiletries appearing in a unisex bathroom at a fire station added to the hostile work environment, Ms. McMahon claimed.

According to the lawsuit, around the end of her probationary period, Ms. McMahon was told she could either resign voluntarily or be terminated by the department, the latter of which would hurt her chances of finding a position elsewhere. Ms. McMahon felt she had no other choice than to resign. Her wrongful termination lawsuit, which is supposedly asking for about $2 million in damages, states that she was discriminated against because she was a woman trying to get into a fire department that has always been all men.

This case illustrates the different types of sexual harassment and gender discrimination that can occur. The other firefighters commenting about the station bathroom being filled with “tampons…hair accessories” and other female items is gender discrimination in which the complainant’s entire gender is being insulted. A sexually charged hostile work environment was created when the male firefighters allegedly made comments about helping her in the shower and grabbed her by her pants. It does not appear that Ms. McMahon was terminated because she turned down the sexual advances of a supervisor or co-worker, which would be considered quid pro quo sexual harassment. Rather, the complaint states she was forced to leave her job simply because she was a woman.
Continue reading

Published on:

Fitness club employees spend their days looking at and trying to improve human bodies. Clothing made for fitness and to accentuate the body is worn. In this type of workplace, sexual harassment is bound to occur.

Earlier this month, Jonathan Prince, a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness in Sherman Oaks, California, filed a lawsuit against his female manager. The suit alleges that the manager hit on Mr. Prince by asking him out and sending him suggestive text messages. When Mr. Prince asked her to stop she gave him negative reviews in retaliation, which hurt his chances for receiving a promotion or bonus. Mr. Prince is seeking over $50,000 in damages. This case highlights the fact that the victim of sexual harassment is not always female.

In 2004, the same club, 24 Hour Fitness, was ordered to pay $2.4 million to Cynthia Malek, a former employee who was fired because she complained that male co-workers were sexually harassing her. The company attempted to demote her from a management position to a sales position. Ms. Malek refused to accept the demotion and was fired. According to the arbitrator’s comments, several of the criticisms that led to the attempted demotion of Ms. Malek came from the men she claimed had sexually harassed her. Even after damages were awarded to her, Ms. Malek continued to fight to have the ruling made public. She felt that the 24 Hour Fitness company as a whole tolerated sexual harassment and she wanted others to be aware of her situation. A year later, the ruling was publicized.

Not all cases of sexual harassment in fitness clubs are filed by employees that work directly with patrons. In August, 2011, Allstar Fitness settled a sexual harassment and https://www.millerfalknerlaw.com/lawyer-attorney-1400888.html by agreeing to pay $150,000 to a janitorial worker who was allegedly sexually assaulted numerous times by her supervisor. The supervisor told her to keep quiet about it or she would lose her job. When she asked him to stop, he fired her the next day. The claim filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on her behalf claims that the club’s upper management never investigated her allegations. The settlement also requires the company to establish a complaint procedure and policies regarding sexual harassment and to provide employee training. Michael Baldonado, District Director of EEOC stated, “No one should be forced to choose between personal dignity and the paycheck that feeds your family.”
Continue reading

Published on:

It was 20 years ago this month that Anita Hill testified against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas regarding sexual harassment. Her accusations were part of testimony subpoenaed during a Senate investigation into Clarence Thomas. At the time of the alleged harassment, Clarence Thomas was her boss at the U.S. Department of Education and, ironically, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Ms. Hill’s disappointment in Clarence Thomas eventually being confirmed by the Supreme Court was in part a result of feeling “…they didn’t understand the relevance of my testimony to Thomas’ respect for the law. He did these things while he was in charge of enforcing sexual harassment laws.”

But the confirmation of Clarence Thomas did not stop Ms. Hill’s testimony from positively affecting sexual harassment. In 1980, only one sexual harassment complaint was filed with the EEOC. After Ms. Hill’s testimony in 1991, 6870 complaints were filed. That number almost doubled again in 1992, and the complaints continued to increase for years, only tapering off more recently. What was once a subject too embarrassing to discuss became common conversation in workplaces across the nation. Women who previously kept quiet for fear of losing their jobs or other retaliation began seeking justice.

Sexual harassment was included in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. Years later, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 was passed, strengthening sexual harassment and all other discrimination laws by allowing a complainant to seek emotional distress damages and have a jury trial.

What constitutes sexual harassment? The EEOC website says:

“Harassment can include ‘sexual harassment’ or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.”

Continue reading

Published on:

In October 2009, Dawn Simpson filed a lawsuit against the city of Louisville after allegedly being sexually harassed and retaliated against by her former employer at Louisville Metro Animal Services. According to the suit, the former director of Metro Animal Services began sexually harassing Ms. Simpson shortly after she began working there in 2007. After Ms. Simpson complained to the second person in command, the suit alleges she was retaliated against by not being allowed to hire employees, make decisions on animal euthanasia, or utilize shelter volunteer coordinators. Her suit with the city of Louisville was settled this year for $287,000. Both men involved in the suit have resigned from their positions.

Ms. Simpson’s claim stemmed from her employer touching her stomach and making inappropriate comments about her physical appearance. Other examples of sexual harassment that create a hostile work environment include crude jokes or sexually explicit photos or pictures being visible in the workplace. Another type of sexual harassment is quid pro quo sexual harassment. In this type of harassment, an employee must provide sexual favors to maintain or improve his or her position, benefits, or salary. Employees often believe that if they perform the sexual favors they cannot file a claim, but this is not the case. If the employee felt they had to do it, a sexual harassment lawsuit can be filed.

In a new workplace lawsuit in Lexington, Kentucky, Cynthia Elliot has filed a claim against the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky (AppalReD) alleging she was discriminated against because of her race and gender. Ms. Elliott, who is black, also felt she was retaliated against for firing white employees when she was terminated in January. The AppalReD board states she was fired after an audit showed the agency had spent $1 million more than its budget over four years and because funds were allegedly missing.
Continue reading

Published on:

The Justice Department announced that it will investigate sexual harassment claims brought by three former secretaries of the probation office. These women are represented by Miller & Falkner trial attorney, Charles Miller.

The law suit, filed in September 2009 in the U.S. District Court in New Albany, alleges that the plaintiffs’ were sexually harassed by Gary Collins, a Chief Probation Officer. According to the pleadings, Collins subjected the women to inappropriate sexual comments, leered at their breasts, and sent them inappropriate emails.

Collins has previously been accused of sexual harassment. In 2002, a law suit, also filed in the U.S. District Court, alleging similar facts was settled out of court for a confidential sum.

Published on:

Kentucky Discrimination Attorneys are anxious to hear the US Supreme Court decision in the case Thompson v. North American Stainless.The Court agreed on June 29, 2010, to hear the case. While it will not be argued until the fall, the case will take a critical look at whether employers can legally retaliate against a complainant’s family members when an employee reports illegal discrimination or harassment in the workplace.

In the Thompson case, both Mr. Thompson and his finance, Miriam Regalado, worked for North American Stainless. Mr. Thompson had worked for the company for over six years, and it was known throughout the company that they were dating. Ms. Regalado complained of workplace gender discrimination to the EEOC. A few weeks later, Mr. Thompson was terminated.
Continue reading

Published on:

Last week, the United Supreme Court did something unusual: they all agreed that text messages on pagers issued to government employees can be searched as long as the government’s acts are reasonable and motivated by a legitimate work-related purpose. See Ontario v. Quon, 560 U.S. __ (2010).

Typically, employees in the private sector have a very low expectation of privacy. Public employees, however, are protected by the 4th Amendment which prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures.” This rule has been extended to include not just criminal investigations but also other actions taken by governments including investigations into their own employees. Treasury Employees v. Von Raab, 489 U.S. 656,665 (1989).

In Ontario v. Quon, employees were issued pagers with text messaging capabilities. The government was charged overages when employees used exceeded a particular character allotment on the text messages. For several months Quon, an employee issued a pager, exceeded the character allotment and personally paid the overage. His supervisors, wanting to assure that the overages were not being caused by work related text messages, reviewed a sample of texts that Quon made during work hours. Unfortunately, Quon sent some sexually explicit texts which resulted in discipline.
Continue reading