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Updates on Sexual Harassment

Updates on Sexual Harassment - Archives


This section contains brief updates of recent sexual harassment complaints, suits, settlements, awards, surveys and studies. The information is gathered from many places and is intended to give an overview of the most current events. It is not meant to provide an exhaustive list of all the news.

  • Ex-Policewoman Gets $225,000 Settlement: The city of Seattle agreed to pay a former Seattle Policewoman $225,000 as settlement of her federal lawsuit filed last year. The officer alleged that her supervisor and two officers sexually harassed her and that the department superiors tried to force her out of the department because she reported it. The settlement agreement means that neither the city nor the officers admit any wrongdoing. However, Scott Blankenship, Seattle-based attorney for the woman said the lawsuit succeeded in changing some of the ways the department handles sexual harassment allegations. 3/27/03 Full story in the March Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Non-employee Harasser Claim Allowed: A federal district court ruled that a female manager of a Pizza Hut may proceed with retaliation and sex discrimination claims against the franchise under Title VII and Iowa state law. The woman was fired shortly after complaining of sexual harassment by a non-employee who was a safety inspector. An independent contractor, in the position of a safety inspector, allegedly repeatedly touched the woman while performing a safety audit of the restaurant, despite her requests that he stop the touching. The woman reported the behavior to her supervisor and he told her he would contact the Human Resources department. 3/15/03 Full story in the March Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Banner Year at EEOC: According to data provided to the Bureau of National Affairs, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had one of its most successful years in history during fiscal year 2002, reaping near-record benefits of $301 million for victims of discrimination. The commission also reduced its inventory of pending cases to a 31-year low. The benefits obtained by EEOC for the year 2002 were the second highest in the commission's history. The agency's average time for processing a discrimination charge also continued to drop, even as the number of charges received by the agency increased. 3/04/03

  • EEOC Chair Says Employers Should Take Agency Seriously: According to EEOC's Chair Cari Dominguez, employers and their in-house counsel should take the agency seriously and not underestimate the professionalism of the staff. Dominguez was responding to a request from the American Corporate Counsel Association for the "ten biggest mistakes" that employers make in dealing with the commission. Dominguez surveyed EEOC regional attorneys for their input and reported her findings at the associations annual meeting. She said, "The regional attorneys only found nine and I think 'mistakes' may be a little harsh. Maybe we should call them lapses in judgment." Among the lapses of employers reported to Dominguez were: failing to act proactively to monitor the company's EEO systems; not responding appropriately and not taking necessary corrective action when problems come to their attention; undermining EEOC's investigations; using delaying tactics; not taking part in EEOC's mediation program; retaliating against employees; assuming EEOC will not litigate and dismissing the agency; underestimated the professionalism of agency personnel; and failing to communicate with EEOC when the investigation is on-going. In reiterating her goal of coalition-building and improving out-reach efforts to employers, Dominguez said, "We're hoping to make the system less burdensome, less costly, and less contentious." 2/21/03

  • Company Ignored Previous Harassment: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that a federal trial court's decision that a cable company was not responsible for the alleged harassment of a female employee because it responded quickly and effectively to her complaints was reversed because the company ignored evidence that the employer was lax in investigating prior allegations of sexual harassment. The circuit court decision reversed summary judgment for Alcatel NA Cable Systems and remanded the case. The court said that an "employer, whose tepid reaction to complaints of abusive behavior emboldens would-be offenders, may be liable for failing to prevent subsequent harassment." 2/11/03 Full story in the February Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Is Proposition Sexual Harassment?: In a recent case the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that a company president's conduct in propositioning a subordinate three times during one meeting was severe enough to establish an actionable hostile environment claim under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, even though the behavior was not necessarily pervasive. The case was Quantock v. Shared Marketing Servs., Inc. The woman was working as an account supervisor at a marketing firm when she met with the company president to discuss a client meeting later that day. During the meeting, the president allegedly propositioned her three times for sex. 1/29/03 Full story in the January Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Gender-Bias Award Caps Constitutional: The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a former employee of Scottsdale-based Hi-Health Supermart suffered a hostile and abusive work environment, but she is not entitled to the million-dollar award the federal jury gave her. The woman sued Hi-Health, a chain of more than 40 health food stores, for gender discrimination and harassment over comments she alleged the company president made that were demeaning to women. In 2000, a jury in Phoenix awarded her $100,000 for pain and suffering and $1 million in punitive damages. However, after the verdict, U.S. District Judge Roger Strand reduced the award to $200,000, citing 1991 amendments to civil rights laws that placed a cap on gender-discrimination awards. 1/24/03 Full story in the January Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Alleged Sexual Harassment at Raytheon: A female custodian at Raytheon claimed that the company ignored repeated complaints about men who would drop their pants in front of her while she cleaned bathrooms at the defense firm's plant in Waltham. The woman filed a $5 million sexual harassment suit in federal court. The lawsuit said the woman has tried to commit suicide twice and that supervisors repeatedly discounted her claims of inappropriate conduct by co-workers, telling her to "deal with it," and punishing her for complaining by assigning her to clean only men's bathrooms. A Raytheon spokeswoman said the company had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it. She added that Raytheon "strictly prohibits sexual harassment in the workforce." 1/15/03 Full story in the January Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • School District Settles Suit: According to reporter Marietta Nelson of the Bremerton, Washington Sun, the Bremerton School District agreed pay $75,000 to the family of a Bremerton High School student who was expelled nearly three years ago. The case was filed in U.S. District Court and according to the agreement, the student and his parents will receive $75, 000 to cover legal costs they incurred while fighting the expulsion. The student''s attorney said the case's resolution was a triumph for his clients. School district officials called it a cost savings. A school district spokeswoman said the resolution of the case "was reached for economic reasons to avoid the high legal costs of a frivolous lawsuit." The case stemmed from the expulsion of the male student in December 1999 after he was accused of exposing himself to a female student. The student's parents, both teachers in the Bremerton district, appealed the expulsion to the board and lost that appeal. 1/07/03 Full story in the January Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

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