Posts Tagged ‘Hostile Work Environment’
Missoula, MT- A letter from the Department of Justice and the Department of Education to the University of Montana has some activist groups worried that the federal definition of sexual harassment is too broad and that a student simply asking a person out on a date would be in violation of a university’s sexual harassment policies, at least that is what constitutional watch-dog group FIRE says.
According to FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the language used in the letter to the University of Montana is unconstitutional and overreaching.
President of the FIRE, Greg Lukianoff, said in press release, “In 2011, the Department of Education took a hatchet to due process protections for students accused of sexual misconduct. Now the Department of Education has enlisted the help of the Department of Justice to mandate campus speech codes so broad that virtually every student will regularly violate them.”
FIRE is referring to language included in the DOE and DOJ letter sent to the university which defines harassment as “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” including “verbal conduct,” even if an “objectively reasonable person of the same gender in the same situation” would not perceive the behavior as offensive.
Technically, that means a student can be accused of harassment if they simply ask a person on a date, flirting or telling a joke of a sexual nature. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen, but it does dramatically change the definition of sexual harassment, and the letter clearly states that the new rules apply to all colleges and universities.
In the letter, the federal agencies explained that the University of Montana failed to adequately define “sexual harassment” and “assault.” It also addresses changes to the federal standard which defines a hostile work environment and the burden of proof for the harassment victim.
The letter states, “The University’s Sexual Harassment Policy defines ‘sexual harassment’ as conduct that ‘is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to disrupt or undermine a person’s ability to participate in or receive the benefits, services, or opportunities of the University, including unreasonably interfering with a person’s work or educational performance.’”
Instead of requiring the “pervasive” and “repeated” standard on the university campus, the Departments of Justice and Education say that “sexual harassment should be more broadly defined as ‘any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.’” Adding, “Defining ‘sexual harassment’ as ‘a hostile environment’ leaves unclear when students should report unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature and risks having students wait to report to the University until such conduct becomes severe or pervasive or both.”
The broad change in the definition of sexual harassment on college and university campuses have come in the wake of numerous scandals, involving a handful of colleges and universities, including the University of Montana and Yale, who failed to adequately investigate and address incidents sexual harassment and assault of their students.
Did the DoJ and DoE go too far in redefining sexual harassment, and do you think the new rules will be abused?
Cary, North Carolina- Going to work can be stressful even if a person loves their job; it’s just a fact of life. For thousands of workers in North Carolina, work isn’t just stressful; it can cause them a great deal of anxiety and even depression because they are being sexually harassed by a coworker or a supervisor. But North Carolinians don’t have to tolerate a hostile work environment and can steps to stop it.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission receives and average of 13,000 complaints of sexual harassment or discrimination each year. Sexual harassment costs nationwide businesses close to $40 million each year in enforcement and damage settlements, so training is the key to stopping harassment.
Even with training, many people continue to engage in this type of workplace misconduct and the victims need a way to redress their complaints. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 lays out the legal recourse for victims of sexual harassment.
First North Carolinians need to understand what exactly sexual harassment constitutes. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination where one employee makes sexually inappropriate comments or jokes, solicits sexual favors, or touches another without their consent, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Typically, sexual harassment cases are divided into two categories; “hostile work environment” and “quid pro quo.”
“Hostile workplace” harassment occurs when one or more person’s sexual comments, solicitations and unwanted touching is so pervasive that it makes the workplace uncomfortable, abusive or hostile for the targeted employee.
The second type of harassment, “quid pro quo” happens when one person, typically holding a superior, solicits sexual favors from another employee in an exchange for promotions, raises or job security.
Under North Carolina law, called the Unlawful Workplace Harassment Policy, an employee who is being harassed has thirty days from the event to file a complaint with their employer. The employer must then investigate the incident and then take appropriate action.
This policy is helpful in some cases, but too often victims of harassment find that their employers don’t take their allegations seriously or fail to adequately discipline the offender. In North Carolina if the complainant is not satisfied with how their employer handled their allegations or they were retaliated against—meaning they were fired, denied promotions, or further harassed after they formally complained– they must file another complaint with the Office of Administrative Hearings and the State Personnel Commission for further action.
The harassed employee also has the right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If the pattern of harassment is repeated and pervasive, or the victim was punished for filing a complaint, they can then choose to file a suit with assistance of the EEOC or a private attorney.
A lawsuit ensures the harassment victim is compensated for their emotional distress and loss of wages. To be absolutely certain the complainant gets the maximum settlement they deserve, it is in their best interest to hire Cary, North Carolina sexual harassment attorney.
Memphis, TN- Working is a fact of life, it’s just something we have to do, but for many Tennessee workers, going to work creates anxiety. On top of the normal amount of stress people experience at work, many men and women are subjected to sexual harassment or discrimination at the hands of a coworker or a boss. Workers need to know they don’t have to just tolerate this kind of behavior and actually have steps they can take to stop. In spite of the laws, thousands of people are sexually harassed every year.
First you have to consider what exactly constitutes sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can include unwanted sexual comments, touching, and advances, requesting sexual favors in exchange for pay raises, promotions, etc. – this is referred to as quid pro quo. Sexual harassment can also include singling-out a person for their sexual orientation.
Certainly, every worker at one point in time has heard or told a sexually-charged joke. Maybe they have been complemented on how good they look in a certain item of clothing, or told how attractive they are. This often is just a one-time incident that may make a person uncomfortable, but isn’t necessarily a recipe for a hostile work environment, and is not always grounds for a civil lawsuit.
In order to for sexually harassing behavior to be in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it must be pervasive and repeated, causing the workplace to be hostile and leading to extensive emotional distress, anxiety or depression for the intended target.
The Tennessee courts additionally defines sexual harassment as “any unequal treatment of an employee that would not occur but for the employee’s gender,” according to the Tennessee Employment law center. The state law doesn’t require that the harassing behavior be sexual in nature, but it must be unwelcome and prevalent enough for the victim to feel intimidated and uneasy.
Anyone who is subjected to sexual harassment and works at a company with 15 or more employees can file a civil lawsuit, but there are a couple of steps they must take before filing a legal complaint.
First, the harassed individual must report the behavior to the human resources department to handle the behavior internally by appropriately disciplining the harasser. If reporting the harassment still doesn’t stop it, or the reporting employee finds their employer punishes them either by subjecting them to additional harassment, cutting their hours or firing them.
It is only after an employee complains to their employer and no action is taken does the harassment victim have the right it file a civil lawsuit. Before contacting a Tennessee sexual harassment attorney, the harassment victim must also file a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Under state law, sexual harassment victims in Tennessee are eligible to seek compensation from their employers for lost wages, future wages, and emotional distress caused by the behavior. Sexually harassed employees are entitled to a significant settlement, which can be greatly increased, with when the victim enlists the assistance of a Memphis sexual harassment attorney.
According to the Jackson Clarion Register, attorneys along with Magistrate Michael T. Parker negotiated behind closed doors for several hours on Monday before they reached an agreement.
In February of last year Kenya Burks who worked as Winfield’s chief of staff filed a lawsuit accusing the Mayor of sexually harassing her after they ended a consensual intimate relationship, and subjected her to a hostile work environment, the Clarion Register reported.
Winfield denied he and Burks had a relationship.
Burks named him and the city of Vicksburg in the suit initially asking for $1.5 million in damages, but attorneys would not say what the final settlement was.
Winfield is facing another legal battle where he has been accused of taking bribes for city contracts.
So why do municipalities and businesses frequently settle sexual harassment cases out of court?
Thousands of sexual harassment complaints are filed each year and a large majority of those complaints result in lawsuits. But municipalities and businesses would prefer to settle these cases out of court.
When Human Resources of any company receive a complaint of sexual harassment they have a responsibility to investigate any allegations regardless of how trivial they may seem. If the incident is a onetime thing such as an off-collar joke, a simple reprimand can suffice and end the problem there.
But too often sexual harassment isn’t just a onetime event; the behavior can be more pervasive and the sexual comments and innuendos can last for days, months even years. It can be particularly toxic to the work environment when a superior offers promotions and other benefits in exchange for sex.
Any allegation has to be investigated and Human Resources will investigate. If the allegations ring true then the offending employee can be fired, but this may not keep the victim to
When faced with a sexual harassment suit, some businesses choice to settle even if the allegations are not solid, or they discover the offender may actually be innocent of harassment. It leaves many to wonder why they would settle.
A sexual harassment lawsuit can be costly. Many companies would prefer to settle simply because it will save them tens of thousands to hundreds of thousand dollars in legal fees and if a court sides on the victim’s behalf they will have to pay out even more. Though a sexual harassment settlement can cost the company thousands to millions, it’s preferable over being engaged in a lengthy court battle, which is costly regardless of whether the court sides with the plaintiff.
There is another cost to sexual harassment and that is to the businesses reputation. A publicized sexual harassment case can give the company a bad name and settling the case whether they believe the accuser or not will help them preserve their good reputation.
Yorktown, CT- A former office manager for Westchester Health Associates in Yorktown filed a lawsuit against one of the gynecologist in the practice, Dr. Susan Malley, alleging the doctor made inappropriate comments to her and other employees and insulted patients behind their backs.
According to the Journal News, Janine Mancuso, who worked at the practice for a year, said Dr. Malley had a pattern of being abusive toward employees but her behavior crossed the line when she began sexually harassing Mancuso.
In her lawsuit Mancuso described a pattern of behavior that made for a hostile work environment and bordered on illegal. Mancuso, who is heterosexual, said Malley began making sexual advances towards her and when her advances were rebuffed she began acting like a jilted lover, the Journal News reported.
Mancuso said Malley would complement her on her appearance and asked her out for “girl’s night.” In addition, Malley would rub the office manager’s arms “for long periods of time.” Mancuso also said Malley would kiss her
Mancuso approached her supervisors at the practice about the behavior, and was assured the issue had been handled. But shortly after that Dr. Malley began to undermine her authority as office manager, criticizing the employees she hired and undermined her authority with subordinates.
Dr. Malley even went to the office one weekend to smash up a picture of Mancuso, The Journal News reported. Malley also told employees to watch their backs around Mancuso the day after smashing the picture.
But Malley’s behavior wasn’t just targeted towards Mancuso. According to the allegations the gynecologist also made light of some of her patient’s concerns and made fun of them along with other employees.
The lawsuit said that Malley made fun of several female patients including one teenage girl who required reconstructive surgery, and another who complained of pain during intercourse.
Malley also allegedly called one employee “white trash” as well as calling other employees a “waste of money,” criticizing their dress, and called others incompetent. Mancuso also alleges Malley threw out job applications; one because she said the applicant was ugly and another because she had bad teeth.
In August of last year, the Journal News said, Mancuso went on temporary sick leave because of the distress caused by Malley’s behavior, but she never returned to work. Mancuso filed her lawsuit against the practice and Dr. Malley in February, alleging the behavior created a hostile work environment, but did not state how much compensation she is seeking.
Dr. Malley has also left the practice to set up her own.
While bullying or insulting employees is not illegal, though there is a push to change that, sexual harassment and discrimination is and can negatively affect all employees. Employers must adequately address this by appropriately disciplining the offending employee.
Typically, sexual harassment lawsuits arise because employers fail train employees, or stop harassment or discrimination once it begins. Preventing harassment, bullying and discrimination is the best interest the business and employees.
In January a female employee came forward with allegations that Kuvalia sexually harassed her after she returned from maternity leave. The woman, who worked as a department records clerk, said in a written statement comments about her “appearance and certain body parts,” according to WKBN 27.
She also stated that she asked Kuvalia to refrain from making inappropriate comments. Prior to formally filing her complaint, the woman was confronted by Kuvalia’s wife who found letters written by her husband that expressed feelings for the clerk.
Following that confrontation, the clerk brought the comments to the attention of City Manager Jack Haney. She said in her letter of complaint, “At this point I felt extremely uncomfortable and went to speak with Jack Haney with my concerns.”
A couple of days after the clerk came forward, a female officer also wrote a letter which corroborated her story about the comments and further stated Kuvalia threatened her if she discussed the alleged incident with anyone. The officer said the statements created a hostile work environment.
Haney discussed the matter with Kuvalia who admitted that he and the clerk communicated regularly through email, Google chat, and text messages and those correspondences included discussions about and their personal lives, WKBN 27.
Kuvalia in his formal response letter chose to invoke his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights; according to the Fifth Amendment a person can chose to refuse to make statements that could incriminate them.
Kuvalia remained on the job while the investigation was being conducted.
This was not the first time Kuvalia faced sexual harassment allegations. According to WKBN 27, Kuvalia admitted to acting inappropriately towards a dispatcher when he worked as deputy police chief in Conneuat and was later fired.
After extensive discussions the Newton City Council decided to terminate Kuvalia’s contract “to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community.”
The attorney representing Kuvalia, Kimberley Kendall described the his firing as a “witch hunt” and said the city would either have to settle the allegations through arbitration or buy out his contract which is valid until September of 2014.
Kendall also raised concerns over the council’s decision because some members were too close to the accusing clerk.
She said, “Two of the council members are related to the complainant. The city manager’s secretary is the complainant’s mother, the city manager’s wife is a good friend of the complainant. In a good old boys network, where an allegation has been made with no basis, he’s been terminated.”
Allegations of sexual harassment on police forces are not that uncommon, this previously reported about two separate cases last December. All workplaces, whether they are public or private must take action and address allegations of sexual harassment seriously. If they fail to do so they take on a significant amount of liability and could be forced to make a large payout.
According to the study conducted by the University of Illinois, teens working in low paying jobs, generally in retail stores and restaurants, are more likely to be sexually harassed by older co-workers that adult employees, Business News Daily.Researchers surveyed 116 teenagers and found that 54 percent of the female respondents and 37 percent of the male respondents admitted to being sexually harassed in the workplace.
Though harassment towards teen females is close to adult females, the rate of harassment targeted to male teens is far higher than for male adults, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission only 16.7 percent of male harassment allegations were filed in 2010.
Incidents of sexual harassment included lecherous comments or behavior, disparaging comments about their gender, sexist jokes and commentaries, unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion, Business Daily News Reported.
The researchers discovered that teens facing a sexually hostile work environment, especially females, are adversely affected, and it leads to low job satisfaction and low skill development. Researchers believe that in the long term harassment affects a teen’s school grades, can lead to increased tardiness and absenteeism, and can impact their attitude towards future employment.
Lead author for the study and psychology professor, Kimberly Schneider, told Business Daily, “We suspect that adolescents may be targeted more frequently than adults given their low status and power in the workplace. They may also be less comfortable reporting the harassing behavior or they may be unsure about the reporting procedures in their company.”
Teens who work at jobs that offer skill development, autonomy and advice are less likely to be sexually harassed.
The primary contributing factor to teen workplace harassment is power. In the workplace adults typically have authority over teens, making them feel like there are no repercussions for harassing behavior.
“Given the power differential that often exists in the relationship between the adolescent employee and his/her harasser, adolescents may be reticent to complain,” Schneider explained.
The researchers urge teens to report the incidents and reach out for emotional support rather than trying to cognitively resolve the issue alone. The emotional strain of enduring harassment can lead to destructive behavior and drug use.
Employers can stop the pervasiveness of teen sexual harassment through adequate training programs that identify hostile behaviors and adequately explain the reporting procedures. Teens should be encouraged to tell their harasser to stop the abuse and should be assured that they won’t face retaliation if they come forward.
But the workplace isn’t the only place adolescents face harassment; this is also a serious issue on school campuses. According to the ACLU, 81 percent of students experienced some measure of sexual harassment in their school years.
As with adults and the workplace, females experience harassment at higher rate than males; 85 percent for females and 76 percent for males. All forms of harassment affect self-esteem at a critical stage in their development and make them feel more afraid in school.
School is tough enough without students facing harassment and bullying. Recent studies have shown that children who harass or bully in school often grow up to repeat the same behavior in their adult lives.
New York, NY- The New York Athletic Cub is in damage control mode after a former employee filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the exclusive club, alleging use of racial slurs and repeated harassment on behalf of the club’s managers.
Keisi Ballenilla worked for the athletic club for five years and she alleges that during that time she was repeatedly sexually harassed by managers and the club took no action. Often allegations would be deemed “unfounded” after a very brief investigation.
According to court documents, which were obtained exclusively by The New York Post, club guests and managers were not reprimanded when they used racial slurs against or sexually harassed workers.
The documents included testimony from Elvis Lopez who has worked security for the club since 2005. In his testimony Lopez said there was “a lot of discrimination from management toward the employees – and club members also, toward employees,” The Post reported.
According to Lopez’s testimony, one member of the club allegedly showed one of the female coat-check workers pictures of men in bikini briefs. Ballenilla, who was a server in the club’s restaurant, stated that her boss, Nesim Zuberi, often requested sex from her in return for giving her work. Lopez affirmed that Zuberi used his power to get favors from staff.
Although, the racial discrimination, sexual harassment and other unethical behaviors were prevalent the employees feared they would retaliated against if they reported the rampant abuse.
The club asked a Manhattan court to impose a confidentiality agreement on the case, but the court refused to do so.
Standing up to employer about discrimination and harassment can be difficult because their complaints are disregarded or they could be retaliated against. Victims of a hostile work environment must often turn to New York sexual harassment attorney to put an end to their abuse and get them compensation.
Waffle House CEO Joe W. Rogers was accused of sexual harassment and on Tuesday, he issued his first statement acknowledging that he did in fact have sexual encounters with a personal employee over an eight-year period. However, he contends the acts were consensual.
“I am a victim of my own stupidity, but I am not going to be a victim of a crime — extortion,” said Rogers in a written statement distributed by his sexual harassment attorney.
The employee, whose name has not been revealed because she has claimed sexual harassment, accused Rogers of fondling her against her will and forcing her to perform sexual acts beginning in 2003. According to the woman, she put up with the incidents because she could not afford to quit her job, but eventually resigned after her son went to college on a full scholarship.
Rogers denies the claims, but apologized for the pain that the “infrequent consensual sexual encounters” had caused his family.
Sexual harassment can be anything from a mild sexual joke to a severe physical incident such as unwanted touching or rape. No matter what the incidents involve, however, victims have a right to seek legal help. If you or someone you know has experienced any form of unwelcomed sexual conduct, turn to a leading sexual harassment lawyer to file a case and protect your rights.
Sexual harassment lawyers will fight for your case to ehlp you obtain compensation for your pain and suffering, as well as to increase the chances that the offender is brought to justice. Are you tired of suffering in a hostile work environment? If so, schedule a consultation today with a top attorney near you to get started on your case.
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida —Sexual harassment and inappropriate incidents occur more often than anyone might like to believe, and often, those engaging in the lewd behaviors are respected government agents. One former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official in Florida was recently sentenced to 70 months in prison after being federally charged with child pornography.
Anthony Mangione is facing several years in prison after pleading guilty in July to child pornography. Mangione admitted he would download and exchange lewd images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Mangione, who was once at the head of ICE’s South Florida operations from 2007 to 2011, ironically participated in many child pornography investigations. He retired a few months after investigators started looking into his own lascivious crimes in April 2011.
According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Mangione told a U.S. District judge that he started having alcohol and prescription pills problems about three years ago. This in no way excuses his actions regarding the child pornography.
Sexual harassment can include several types of unwanted sexual behaviors, such as pornography, inappropriate touching, or even something as simple as overhearing a lewd joke. If you have been subjected to unwanted sexual conduct at work, seek legal help immediately with a sexual harassment lawyer.
Sexual harassment lawyers do everything in their power to bring the offender to justice and work diligently so you can obtain compensation for your pain and suffering. No one should have to suffer in a hostile work environment, so turn to a sexual harassment attorney right away to put an end to the unwelcome behavior once and for all.
Call a sexual harassment attorney today to discuss your options and file a case to protect your rights.