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- Stop and Prevent Sexual Harassment

Products and Services to Stop and Prevent Sexual Harassment
from The Employers Association

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Updates on Sexual Harassment

Updates on Sexual Harassment - Archives

SECOND QUARTER 2003

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.

  • Pattern-and-Practice Theory Debated: Attorneys speaking at New York University’s Annual Conference on Labor said that the recent $10 million settlement of a pattern-and-practice sexual harassment class action suit raises questions about the legal framework for such “cutting edge” litigation. They said it also raises ethical concerns about what they referred to as “scorched earth” discovery tactics used by both defendants and the EEOC in the cases. The two cases discussed specifically involved EEOC and Dial Corporation and EEOC and Mitsubishi Motors of America. 6/27/03 Full story in the July Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • EEOC and Dial Enter Consent Decree in Harassment Case: EEOC and The Dial agreed to resolve the claims brought by the EEOC alleging sexual harassment at Dial's Montgomery, Illinois, facility. The parties reached a settlement that involves payment by Dial of $10 million pursuant to a Consent Decree entered by the Court to resolve the case. EEOC's Regional Attorney in Chicago, John Hendrickson, said, "EEOC believes that the agreement reached in this case is in the best interests of both the Dial family employer and employees and the public. We are heartened by Dial's determination to resolve the litigation and to move ahead in providing a work environment that is safe and free of harassment. We are pleased to have worked with Dial to put together a Consent Decree which will meet the needs and aspirations of the parties and the Court." Hewent on to say, "I think you are going to see a workplace in which the ability of women to work without fear and without harassment has become a reality. And that's good for Dial, that's good for the government and it is good for those women." The $10 million payment was to settle the claims of sexual harassment that were brought by nearly 100 women while working at the Aurora, Illinois soap production facility. 6/20/03 Full story in the June Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Obscene Span Can Create Hostile Work Environment: According to a special report released by the Bureau of National Affairs, some attorneys and security experts say that employers who fail to address the issue of employees receiving pornographic spam at work face potential liability for a hostile work environment. BNA said such spam not only clogs employees' electronic inboxes, but can make some of them uncomfortable. The offending email can include electronic offers for various devices and drugs as well as pornographic images that pop up when an e-mail is opened. Attorneys who were interviewed said that the issue of what employee-to-employee behaviors create a hostile work environment has been settled. "For example, a worker who forwards pornographic e-mail to a co-worker contributes to a hostile work environment as does an employee who makes lewd comments to a co-worker. The employer, if it knows or should have known about the behavior, is obligated to stop it," said BNA. The question of spam from outside the company is less clear. 6/11/03 Full story in the June Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Hosptial to Pay $5.4 Million: A Brooklyn hospital has agreed to pay over $5.4 million to settle the complaints of scores of female employees who claimed that a doctor sexually harassed them during pre-employment physical examinations. EEOC said the case, which involved Lutheran Medical Center, was its largest sexual harassment settlement in the state of New York. The eight employees will divide nearly $2 million with the remaining $3.4 million divided among 43 other current and former employees who said they were harassed by the same doctor. 6/2/03 Full story in the June Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Abuse of Nurses by Staff: According to a recent study by Katie Ricker, published in the March issue of The Journal of Health Policy, there is a distinct relationship between workplace stress levels of nurses and the abuse the encounter on the job. Ricker also said that workplace attitudes may play a part in the perpetuation of violence. "One of the big things that came up in the study was that medical-surgical nurses are much worse off than we'd guess. If you look at their numbers they're not that far off from nurses working in emergency and psychiatric wards, where we expected to see high numbers given that patients in those areas aren't always lucid and likely to lash out," Ricker said. According to the study, nurses who reported inadequate staffing levels on their shift were more likely to report that they had experienced abuse. 5/28/03 Full story in the May Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Consulting Firm Agrees to $2.3 Million Settlement: A New York-based airline consulting firm, Simat, Helliesen & Eichner and its parent company, publisher Reed Elsevier Inc., agreed to pay $2.3 million to four women and their attorney under a consent decree reached with EEOC. The consent decree is a result of a lawsuit filed by EEOC alleging that the former president of the consulting firm sexually harassed female employees in the firm's Manhattan office and that despite the women's complaints, the firm and its parent company did nothing to stop the harassment. In addition to the monetary payments, the firm must provide EEOC with reports on any sexual harassment charges it receives during the length of the two-year decree. The managers of the firm and the parent company must undergo sexual harassment training, and the former president, now the company's chairman, must go through additional training. The case is EEOC v. Simat, Helliesen & Eichner Inc., S.D.N.Y., No. 97 Civ 7168, 2/14/03. 5/15/03 Other stories in the May Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Judge Approves Bias Suit Settlement: A federal judge in California granted approval to a consent decree settling the claims of approximately 200 women who alleged sex discrimination. The women said the Sacramento, California Regional Transit District discriminated against them in pay, promotion, and training. The consent decree provides $1.6 million to eligible workers for back pay and future pay for their claims of denial of promotions, training, or reclassification. The seven plaintiffs named claim they were discriminated against in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The case is Brown v. Sacramento Reg'l Transit Dist., E.D. Cal., No. DIVS-98-1719 LKK/JFM, settlement approved 2/26/03. 5/09/03 Other stories in the May Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • $2.3 Million Award for Retaliation: A Pennsylvania jury found that FedEx retaliated against a former female supervisor and awarded her $2,309,003 in lost wages and punitive damages. The retaliation was allegedly because the woman supported the sexual harassment claims for a co-worker and for voicing concerns that she was being discriminated against. The woman, who was an award-winning manager for FedEx, gave a deposition in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a female truck driver against the company. Shortly afterwards, the woman's supervisor told her to "either accept a serious disciplinary letter, which would drastically limit her career at FedEx, or accept a demotion," and be fired, she claimed. The woman then filed an internal complaint against her supervisor. 5/01/03 Full story in the May Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Supreme Court Limits Punitive Damages: On April 7 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled limiting large punitive awards against corporations, saying that civil judges and juries may not apply "grossly excessive or arbitrary punishments" against lawsuit defendants, no matter how wealthy the company may be. The court reasoned that civil lawsuits are intended to compensate plaintiffs for actual losses and not to serve as a substitute for the criminal-justice system. 4/25/03 Full story in the April Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Nurses Silently Suffer Abuse Causing Stress: A ground-breaking study published last month showed that twenty percent of nurses in Alberta and British Columbia are suffering workplace violence from co-workers and patients, but many of them don't report it. Katie Ricker, whose study was published in the March issue of The Journal of Health Policy, said, "What's especially frightening is that nurses are not only supposed to be in control, they are also one of the front-line groups of people who are supposed to recognize cases of abuse in their patients. A suggestion has been made that if nurses are an abused group themselves it normalizes abuse and may make them less sensitive to abuse in other people." 4/17/03 Full story in the April Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Fire Marshall's Free Speech Claim Rejected: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected a Nevada Fire Marshall's First Amendment claim, finding that the city's interests in maintaining positive relationships with its unions outweighed the concerns the marshall had about treatment of women. The marshall had been suspended after complaining about the treatment of older female workers by the city of North Las Vegas, Nevada. 4/08/03 Full story in The Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Judge Vacates Order for EEOC to Pay Attorneys' Fees: A federal judge reversed a previous order, thus barring Dial Corporation from collecting attorneys' fees from EEOC, in the agency's on-going sexual harassment suit against the company. The judge reversed his September 2002 order that would have allowed Dial to collect attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses from EEOC for defending against frivolous class member claims. He said he dismissed Dial's demand for fees after he evaluated the commission's motion for reconsideration and found EEOC's conduct in the case to be reasonable. The court's ruling stems from litigation by EEOC in May 1999, in which it claimed that nearly 100 female employees at a Dial facility in Aurora, Illinois were routinely sexually harassed by male co-workers. The suit also alleged that Scottsdale, Arizona-based Dial did nothing to stop the 13-year pattern of abuse despite its knowledge of the illegal behavior. The class action suit is tentatively scheduled for trial August 28. 4/01/03 Full story in The Webb Report - Subscribe Now!


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