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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.

  • Former Trucker Awarded $3.2 Million A federal jury in Harrisburg, PA returned a multi-million dollar verdict in favor of EEOC and a woman from Wrightstown, in their lawsuit against Memphis-based Tennessee shipping company Federal Express Corporation for violations of Title VII and the intentional infliction of emotional distress on the woman. The jury found Federal Express liable for a sex-based hostile work environment and retaliation and awarded her $391,400 in back pay, $350,000 in compensatory damages for emotional pain and distress, and $2.5 million dollars in punitive damages. 3/29/04

  • Proposed Bill Would Remove Damage Cap for Sexual Harassment A wide-ranging civil rights bill was introduced in February by key House and Senate Democrats. The bill would expand remedies under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. In the area of sexual harassment, the bill would eliminate the cap on damage awards under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. According to the measure, "These limitations unfairly affect sex discrimination claims because employment discrimination claims based on race and national origin may be brought under 42 U.S.C. 1981 (the 1866 Civil Rights Act), which does not limit damages." A fact sheet and analysis of the proposed legislation can be accessed at HTTP:// 3/17/04

  • $500,000 Awarded in Harassment Case A former Cook County, Illinois employee who said she was sexually harassed by her boss was awarded $500,000 by a federal jury in late January. The woman's boss, the alleged harasser, was at the time of the incidents the county's chief investigator of sexual harassment claims. The jury deliberated about 3 and a half hours before deciding in favor of the woman, a mother of three who claimed the county's first inspector general groped her. The award was for $400,000 in punitive damages against the man separately and an additional $100,000 in compensatory damages against him and the county. 3/10/04

  • Tongue Stud Wearing Guard Loses Harassment Case A federal judge refused to hold the employer liable for either a hostile work environment or retaliation in a case involving an employee who wore a tongue stud. In the case, the airport guard was fired for wearing the stud a month after she had reported an incident of sexual harassment by a co-worker. The harassment was a one-time incident, although it did involve indecent exposure as well as sexual banter. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa ruled the harassment was not sufficiently severe as to affect a term, condition, or privilege of employment under Title Vii. The court also said that the defendant company responded adequately to the incident. 2/24/04 Full story in the February Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Clicking Mouse is Tool of Cyber Bullies Cyber bullying, also known as digital bullying or Internet bullying, is harassment that takes place used an electronic medium. That harassment can be through em-mails, instant messaging, chat rooms on the Internet, small text messages, on-line voting booths, and even websites set up to mock and humiliate. According to Alanna Mitchell of the Toronto Globe and Mail, experts say it is about to become so rampant, driven by the "army of Internet-connected camera cellphones that preteens and teenagers received as gifts over the last holiday season". Experts say that cyber bullying is worse than regular schoolyard bullying because is has no bounds of time, space or geography. A bullied child used to be able to go home to escape, but now bullying can take place when a child is in his or hr own bedroom with a cellphone. 2/16/04 Full story in the February Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Livermore Lab Discrimination Award Overturned A state of California appeals court overturned $745,000 in damages to a former Lawrence Livermore Laboratory employee who said she was fired for complaining against sex discrimination and harassment at work. The court said the woman's expert witness was wrongly allowed to testify that some of the lab's actions were retaliation because the expert had no expertise on those topics and his testimony "invaded the province of the jury to draw conclusions from the evidence." 2/9/04 Full story in the February Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Drug Use Doesn't Excuse Firing The U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa ruled in late December that a worker at a Jiffy Lube who admitted to smoking marijuana daily, even twice while at work, can proceed with her sexual harassment claim and constructive discharge in violation of Title VII and Iowa law. The case is Ricklefs v. Orman, N.D. Iowa, No. C02-3061-MWB, 12/19/03. 2/2/04 Full story in the January Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • CA Court Decision Limits Sexual Harassment Damages The California Supreme Court recently ruled unanimously that employers with strong and effective sexual harassment policies may be able to limit the amount of damages in sexual harassment suits. While the court said that California's Fair Employment and Housing Act still imposes strict liability for all acts of sexual harassment by supervisors, the court went on to say that "strict liability is not absolute liability in the sense that it precludes all defenses." Instead the employee's damages may be limited by what is known as the "avoidable consequences doctrine." Under this concept, a person injured by another person's actions will not be compensated for damages the injured person could have avoided by reasonable effort or expenditure. The case is Department of Health Services v. Superior Court (McGinnis) (2003) 31 Cal. 4th 1026. 1/26/04 Full story in the January Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Constructive Discharge May Be Tangible Employment Action The Seventh Circuit Court recently ruled that constructive discharge does amount to a tangible employment action under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The court said the lower court erred in finding that the defendants were shielded from liability because the victim had not experienced a tangible employment action. "In circumstances where 'official actions by the supervisor...make employment intolerable,'...we believe constructive discharge may be considered a tangible employment action," the court said. The case is Robinson v. Sappington, 7th Cir., No. 02-3316, 12/9/03. 1/19/04 Full story in the January Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Victim of Flashing Loses Suit The U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled in December that a computer technician whose co-worker exposed himself to her was not sexually harassed. The court noted that after the incident, the woman worked at home until the co-worker was suspended and then fired. The court said, "Expressive conduct without any physical touching of the victim is not generally severe or pervasive enough to alter the conditions of employment," under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The court said the man's exposure "could not be described as physical, intimate, or forcible." The court also said that there was no working relationship between the two employees, and that the woman's working environment was not altered by the incident. She never saw the co-worker again because he was suspended and then fired. Finally, the court added that, "The infrequent, one-time incident did not take place in an intimate setting; instead it occurred in a place where other co-workers could see and hear." The case is Gonzales v. NeustarInc., N.D. Ill., No. 02-C-7404, 12/4/03. 1/12/04 Full story in the January Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Court Rules Curbing Office Romance is Not Sex Bias In a recent case in Ohio, an employee began a relationship with a married co-worker whose husband also worked at the plant. The couple began to display their affection for each other while at work. Including among the incidents reported to management, the employees were seen kissing "pretty passionately" in the plant lobby and another employee reported being offending by their behavior. Management concluded that the behaviors were inappropriate at work and asked the couple to stop their excessive displays of affection. The male employee claimed that a number of disciplinary actions were taken against him, including filing an incident report citing him for giving the married co-worker a goodbye kiss, confining him to his department and threatening to fire him if he were caught holding the woman's hand, and threatening to file sexual harassment charges against him on the co-worker's behalf. The man filed suit, claiming that female employees were not disciplined for similar harmless displays of affection. The court ruled that the man failed to show the alleged discrimination was the result of his gender. The evidence showed that both he and his girlfriend were warned that any further display of affections would not be tolerated. He did not show that similarly situation women were treated differently. Rather, the court said that his claim of discrimination was based on whom he was dating, not because of his sex, therefore no sex discrimination took place. 1/01/04 Related stories in the January Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

    Updates on Sexual Harassment - Archives

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