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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.

  • Plaintiff's Payment Increased to Offset Increased Taxes : In a ground-breaking ruling in New Jersey, a judge awarded additional money to the successful plaintiff in a sexual harassment suit to offset the higher taxes she will have to pay on the lump sum payment of her original award for damages. Superior Court Judge Edmund Bernhard awarded an additional $107,000 to the woman who sued the city of Bernardsville and its former police chief for sexual harassment. She was awarded $341,000 by a jury. The judge agreed with post trial arguments brought by the woman's attorney who said that the woman would have to pay taxes she would have otherwise not owed had she not been harassed in the first place. 9/28/03 Full story in the October Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • States Take Action on Sexuality and Discrimination Issues: In three different areas, the states of Pennsylvania and California have taken action on issues involving sex and discrimination. In Pennsylvania, Governor Edward G. Rendell signed an executive order prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of transgender status. The order directs state agencies under the control of the governor not to "discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment" because of his or her "gender identity expression."

    In California, Governor Gray Davis signed a bill that prohibits employment or housing discrimination because of a person's gender identity. The measure adds the category of gender identity to the list of 15 characteristics protected by California's Fair Employment and Housing Act and uses the definition of gender identity now used in the state penal code in reference to hate crimes. The law is to protect transsexual and transgendered individuals from discrimination in employment and housing. California is now the fourth state to enact a gender identity bias law.

    Also in California, a Superior Court jury awarded more than $1.9 million in damages for harassment to a gay cook at a state-run youth correctional center. The man said he was harassed over several years by supervisors and co-workers. The cook, who is HIV-positive, filed the lawsuit under the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act, claiming that he was verbally harassed because of his sexual orientation, and retaliated against when he complained of the behaviors. 9/23/03 Full story in the September Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Head of State Hospital Fired Over Harassment Scandal: The head of Western State Hospital in Washington was fired in the midst of a costly sexual harassment scandal that stirred up the staff and new allegations of wrongdoing. C. Jan Gregg was fired by the Department of Social and Health Services only a week after an investigative report was completed on the handling of sexual harassment complaints, alleged patient abuse and other problems at the hospital. Gregg's boss, Karl Brimner said he sought "better accountability and communication at the hospital, located in Pierce County, Washington. Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Dennis Braddock said the firing was part of a reorganization of personnel and policies intended to make the hospital a "secure and healthy place for all our employees. We believe we have to get someone in there who doesn't have any connection to the past." 9/17/03 Full story in the September Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • EEOC and Cheap Tickets Reach $1.1 Million Settlement : The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Cheap Tickets, a leading retailer of discounted leisure travel products, reached a $1.1 million settlement of the EEOC class action sexual harassment lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against Cheap Tickets, Inc. The suit filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that, dating back to 2000, female agents working at Cheap Tickets' Los Angeles Call Center, which closed in September 2001, were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment by their supervisors. Moreover, EEOC said that the woman who filed the initial discrimination charge was subjected to retaliation. 9/10/03 Full story in the September Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Liability of E-Mail Overlooked by Companies : According to a recent survey of 1,100 employers, e-mail is playing an increasingly important role in workplace lawsuits and regulatory investigations. At the same time, employers are doing a poor job of managing their electronic records and preparing for the legal discovery process, the survey showed. The study was conducted by the New York-based American Management Association, the Columbus, Ohio-based ePolicy Institute, and London-based Clearswift. Five percent, or one out of every twenty respondents, said their organizations have faced a workplace lawsuit brought on by e-mail. Fourteen percent of employers said they have been ordered by a court or regulatory body to produce employee e-mail, up from 9 percent reported in a similar study by AMA in 2001 of 435 companies. Despite the growing legal risks, only about half of the respondents (52 percent) monitor their employees' e-mail activity in any way. 9/01/03 Full story in the September Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Female City Trucker Alleges Sexual Harassment: A female Chicago city employee who said she was the only woman truck driver assigned to a Department of Transportation garage filed a federal lawsuit claiming she was repeatedly sexually harassed on the job. The woman, a city employee for over 10 years, claimed that her co-workers vandalized her vehicle and left a sexual toy under the windshield wiper. She said that after she filed a complaint with the city, her male co-workers stopped speaking to her and left the room when she came in. Because of this, she said she was constantly tense, had intense headaches and had difficulty sleeping. Her suit asks for at least $450,000 in damages and a ban on retaliation. A spokeswoman for the city's Law Department said she had not seen the suit. 8/26/03 Full story in the August Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Respect an Issue for Employees: According to Virginia Galt, Workplace Reporter for the Toronto, Canada Globe and Mail, "Workplaces, in general, are becoming more sensitive to employee demands that they be treated with dignity and respect. And, in the current climate, behavior does not have to be illegal to be considered inappropriate." Toronto employment attorney Janice Rubin said, "Itıs good that we are not making off-color jokes, it's good that we are not groping each other. Now we have another concern, which is respect." 8/18/03 Full story in the August Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Appeals Court Reverses Dismissal of EEOC Suit: EEOC announced that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has reversed a lower court's dismissal of EEOC's sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against the Pasadena, California-based law firm Reeves & Associates and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Ninth Circuit also overturned a rare award of attorneys' fees against the EEOC previously granted by the Federal District Court in Los Angeles. 8/4/03 Full story in the August Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Costco To Pay $508,000 for Sexual Harassment : A state of Washington judge ruled that Costco Wholesale Corp. must pay $508,000 to a Seattle-area employee who was sexually harassed on the job and stalked by her harasser. The judge also found that the company failed to prevent continued harassment of the woman. The court said, "Costco made no effort proactively to protect the woman. Although it was Costco's responsibility to eliminate the harassment, Costco inappropriately shifted the burden to the woman to come up with solutions, conduct any follow-up, make telephone calls and contact people to seek redress." 7/24/03 Full story in the August Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Blondes Not Protected by Title VII: The U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that being a blonde, either in the workplace or anywhere else, does not reach the level of a [protected category under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The district court granted summary judgment to Aetna Inc., saying that while the comments made by the woman's supervisor "may be viewed as offensive, disparaging, unprofessional, and in poor taste," they were not sufficient to establish sexual harassment. 7/17/03 Full story in the August Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

  • Family Sues MIT Over Daughter's Suicide: The family of Julia Carpenter, a sophomore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who committed suicide two years ago by ingesting cyanide, filed a $20 million lawsuit against MIT, claiming the university caused their daughter's death by failing to address her harassment by a classmate. The lawsuit says Carpenter, then 20, was stalked for months by a freshman classmate who lived in her dorm. He allegedly slept on a couch outside her room and broke into her computer and downloaded intimate video of her and then showed it to classmates. 7/10/03 Full story in the August Webb Report - Subscribe Now!

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