Posts Tagged ‘Retaliation’
The Los Angeles Times reported that Christine Hougan, filed a civil lawsuit alleging that Johnson subjected her to inappropriate comments and used his superior position to intimidate her after her husband, who is a police officer, testified against department officials.
Christine’s husband, John Hougan was fired in July 2011, which he alleges was a result of his cooperation with investigation into departmental corruption and cronyism. Because of his cooperation, Hougan was subjected to a retaliatory internal investigation and was later fired as result of those investigations, the LA Times reported.
John Hougan subsequently filed a wrongful termination and retaliation suit which is currently ongoing. Christine Hougan’s lawsuit insists that Chief Johnson subjected her to intimidation after her husband filed his suit.
According to her lawsuit, Johnson called her into his office for a 90-minute discussion of the investigation into her husband’s conduct. The filing states that during that meeting, Johnson sat very close to Hougan and “used his position of authority to intimidate her,” the Times said.
Hougan’s suit says that in the following months Johnson would stand very close to her, telling her “I really like you,” which made her feel “uncomfortable and intimidated.”
Hougan says she came forward with the allegations on numerous occasions, but nothing was done about the misconduct.
The suit further alleges that the department used a particularly distressing incident to terminate Hougan. In 2011, she took a call that she found to be emotionally disturbing. Department documents state that after the incident, Hougan supposedly “engaged in conduct that was extremely disruptive to the Communications Center.”
Following this incident, Hougan was fired instead of being ordered to see a psychologist as department policy dictates, the Times reported. The lawsuit alleges, “The department chose to use her symptoms against her 11 months later in her termination.”
Christine Hougan was fired in February of 2012 after working for the department since 1990; the department said she had been working as a part-time employee since 2001.
City attorney Aaron Harp told the Times that he couldn’t comment directly about the two suits, but said, “We don’t believe there’s any truth in the allegations of Mr. or Mrs. Hougan.”
Unfortunately, retaliation often goes hand-in-hand with sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Each year the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission receives thousands of complaints of harassment, discrimination and retaliation, even though employers are aware that these behaviors are not only illegal, but can be very costly if the victim decides to file a lawsuit. These types of cases often result in multi-million dollar settlements.
Last year, the EEOC received 37,837 complaints of retaliation; this likely just represents a fraction of actual incidents since many employees fail to report abuses in the workplace, and some of these abused individuals chose to file suits with the help of private employment law attorneys.
Savannah, GA- Although many people don’t totally love going to their jobs every day, people have the reasonable expectation that when they enter the workplace they won’t face any hostility, harassment or discrimination. But too often Savannah employees face entering a hostile environment every day because of the inappropriate actions of either their coworkers or bosses.
Each year the Equal Employment Opportunity commission receives an average of 30,000 or more complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination. What’s more surprising than the number of complaints filed each year is the fact that almost half of them go unreported, because many people, men and women, choose to ignore sexual harassment despite how toxic it makes an environment.
A Washington Post survey from 2011 found that 6 out 10 women admitted to being sexually harassed at least once during their working lives. However many workers endure a persistent pattern of sexual harassment at the hands of a coworker or supervisor, leaving them feeling humiliated, embossed and abused.
There are a myriad of reasons a person would choose not to report sexual harassment. Many of those who endure inappropriate sexual jokes, comments, or touching ignored the harassment because they felt like their complaints wouldn’t be taken seriously or ignored all together, others were afraid of retaliation.
A recent survey of 9,000 officer workers conducted in New York found that 50 percent of the participants admitted they were afraid to report sexual harassment because they or someone they knew was fired for filing a complaint. Some employees find that after they file a formal complaint other employees and the accused harbor resentments and the victim must still endure some form of harassment. This behavior can escalate forcing the person being harassed into leaving their jobs.
Seventy-five percent of respondents said they didn’t report incidents because they didn’t believe their company would take their allegations seriously and instead may think the harassed individual is being too sensitive and unable to take a joke.
Even though it is a violation to of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ignore an employee’s reporting of harassment or to fire them for coming forward with a formal complaint, retaliation happens to an alarming degree, and employers often refuse to take actions against the offending employee.
Retaliation often goes hand in hand with a harassment or discrimination complaint even though it shouldn’t. Luckily, the person who has been harassed or retaliated against has a legal course of action they can take to redress these issues.
Savannah workers don’t have to put up with a hostile work environment. The harassment victim has a responsibility to ask the harasser to stop and then report the incident to their superiors, if this fails to end the misconduct, the next step is to contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with their complaint.
Once the employee has followed those two steps, they can then hire Savannah sexual harassment attorney to file a civil lawsuit. With their help, the victim can seek compensation for their emotional distress along with lost and future wages.
The large award went to Carmen Jean Baptiste, 43, who began working as a lifeguard at the Takoma Aquatic Center in May or June of 2006. During her August 2012, trial Jean-Baptiste told the court that soon after she began her job, her supervisor, Rodney Weaver began sexually harassing her.
According to her allegations, Weaver asked he out on dates and “whether she had a man,” the Washington Post reported. Additionally, Weaver would stroke her hair, make sexual advances and jokes. Jean-Baptiste also alleged that Weaver made references to her genitalia telling her he “wanted some of that.”
The lawsuit stated that Jean-Baptiste notified at least half a dozen supervisors at the pool of the misconduct, but the harassment just got worse. Jean-Baptiste became so frustrated with the behavior that she filed a written complaint in October 2006, and was fired shortly afterward.
In her initial lawsuit, Jean-Baptiste’s attorneys said she was fired out of retaliation for reporting Weaver. The Department of Parks and Recreation denied that Jean-Baptiste was harassed by Weaver and further stated she was not fired from reporting
The jury at the trial however felt that Jean-Baptiste’s claims were accurate and awarded her a $3.5 million settlement for her “pain.” The jury further stated they were “embarrassed” about how management at the pool handled Jean-Baptiste’s complaints, the Post reported.
On top of the large settlement, the jury also made suggestion on how the Department of Parks and Recreation could improve their sexual harassment training procedures and called for an investigation.
Last month, the judge who presided over the August trial overturned the $3.5 million settlement, stating it was “so great as to shock the conscience,” and that it was “inordinately large.”
Judge Royce Lamberth agreed that Weaver’s behavior was inappropriate and “disgusting,” but determined that Jean-Baptiste could only be compensated for her actual damages caused by the city.
The Post noted that Jean-Baptiste, who claimed the harassment caused her emotional distress, anxiety and depression, didn’t present any expert testimony from any medical or psychological professional to back up her claims of emotional distress.
Although Judge Lamberth overturned the $3.5 million settlement, he gave Jean-Baptiste 21 days to decide if she wanted to take a lesser amount of $350,000, or request another trial over the issue of damages.
The attorneys representing Jean-Baptiste said they were unclear whether their client wanted to pursue another trial or will take the reduced settlement.
It’s not unusual for a judge to overturn a sexual harassment settlement of they believe the victim did not provide sufficient evidence to back their complaints. Just last week, a Florida judge overturned a $700,000 settlement awarded to a firefighter who alleged her male co-workers harassed her. The judge in that case stated, the victims didn’t provide sufficient proof that her harassment was pervasive and repeated.
San Francisco, CA- Venture Capital firm, CMEA was sued earlier this month by three female employees alleging the faced sexual harassment and retaliation at the company, making the third high-profile case of harassment in the finance and tech industry in the past year, leading some to wonder if there is a significant gender gap in the world of finance and technology.
The three women, Dawn-Shemain Weeks, Margaret Hines and Shannon Schlagenhauf filed a federal lawsuit against the firm On Feb. 7th, alleging the company’s president and Chief Financial Officer John Haag “behaved in sexually and racially inappropriate ways,” the court papers said.
The legal complaint, which is 17-pages long according to Forbes, included many incidents of sexually explicit behaviors and comments targeted at the three women. The suit also alleges that partners in the firm observed this behavior and did nothing to discourage or stop it.
The numerous allegations against Haag include commenting on Schlagenhauf’s body and once saying he would suck “her daddies *****.” Schlagenhauf also alleges that in one instance Haag block her from leaving his office and sat in a manner that exposed his crotch area, according to Forbes.
The complaint also alleges Haag would call Weeks “muffy,” refer to Hines as “boom boom” or “dirty bird.” He would also call Schlagenhauf, “Shaniqua” referring to her as African-American though that is ot her actual race.
The suit also says that executives say Haag engage in harassing behavior, but took no steps to stop it and instead would just walk away.
The women also said after the brought Haag’s misconduct to CMEA management, not steps were taken to stop the behavior and they faced retaliation. They allege that they were denied overtime, which represents 20 to 30 percent of their income, after they reported the harassment.
Christopher Lebsock, the attorney representing the three women said, “It was not simply a statement taken in isolation,” according to Forbes. “If you look at the overall context of the way this company was operating, there was a total disregard for what the law required. It manifested itself in a lot of ways. You had statements that were obviously sexual in nature and inappropriate. You have bullying and intimidation-type behavior,” Lebsock said.
Lebsok also said that Haag knew he was saying inappropriate things because he would turn to other women and ask them if his behavior was wrong. To Lesok this means Haag was aware that his comments were inappropriate.
Haag no longer works for CMEA but they released a statement which said the former CFO was not guilty of the behavior and felt confident a court will decide he is not guilty of the charges.
This is just the second lawsuit and third instance of sexual harassment in the world of finance. Last year, Ellen Pao, who was a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers filed a federal sexual harassment lawsuit alleging that she was harassed and retaliated against.
Earlier this month, the CFO of Square, Matthew Rabois, left his position after a former male employee and lover threatened to sue the company for sexual harassment. Rabois denied the allegations.
Two Different Police Departments Forced to Address Sexual Harassment Allegations; Is Harassment a Serious Problem in Law Enforcement?December 21st, 2012 Posted in Sexual Harassment News
Atlanta, GA- Two different police agencies, one in Missouri and North Carolina, are being forced to address sexual harassment complaints and allegations of retaliation. Could the stress of being in law enforcement cause people to engage in sexual misconduct or is it just an issue of too much power?
In Urbana, Missouri, two veteran officers were fired after allegations of sexual abuse between them arose. Officers Roxy Flippin and Jason Owens had a contentious relationship from the beginning but things reached a head when Flippin allegedly threatened Owens and both were suspended with pay, according to the KSRP 33, local ABC affiliate.
In a closed Alderman meeting, the board decided to fire Flippin because of the threat and announced Owens would get a full-time position. After the meeting opened Filppin then told the board she was repeatedly sexually harassed by Owens.
Owens was then fired, and now the department must investigate Flippin’s allegations.
Flippin refused to grant an interview to KSRP but in a statement her attorney said, “There was a lot of discrimination based on sex and there was an assault on Roxy that was overlooked by the Mayor and Chief of Police.”
In a recent incident on North Carolina, a female Catawba County sheriff’s deputy alleged that she was sexually harassed by a superior officer and Sheriff Coy Reed fired her after reporting the misconduct.
According to the Hickory Record, Deputy Stacy Minor filed a federal lawsuit last week, alleging Lieutenant Joseph Sigmon sexually harassed her for over a year. The lawsuit says that Reed fired her for complaining and refusing Sigmon’s sexual advances. The suit also names the County as defendant because they refused to address the complaints.
The lawsuit lists a number of salacious comments and actions by Sigmon. In one incident Sigmon told her “I bet you are finger licking good, and texted her “how are the twins (referring to her breasts),” among other accusations.
Also in January of 2011, Sigmon was sitting in the driveway of her home without invitation. When she told Reed, Sigmon admitted to it, but was not disciplined.
Reed says she never told Sigmon to stop the harassment. Minor’s lawsuit admits she never told Sigmon “no,” but that was because she feared for her job.
After she became pregnant she was transferred to detention center, and was eventually fired on November 12th.
Sexual harassment in police ranks are fairly common, but it is it a serious problem? There have been no studies to show that it is a pervasive problem exclusive to law enforcement, but on this site we frequently report on incidents involving law enforcement agencies nationwide.
The real issue at play in sexual harassment is power. The majority of sexual harassment cases involve harassment of a subordinate by a superior. Bosses often have the advantage because they know employees are often afraid to report incidents for fear of being fired, and that the majority of incidents will go unreported.
Power gives some people the impression they can abuse others without the threat of recourse. Even the threat of a lawsuit is not enough to discourage harassment and retaliation in the workplace.
Nearly half of women and a smaller percentage of men admit they have been sexually harassed at least once during their working lives, but failed to report those incidents. And when they do report they their allegations, superiors ignore or dismiss allegations as frivolous.
Adequate sexual harassment training is one solution, but is not a cure for the pervasiveness of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. So what can we do to end this problem?
New York, NY- A Manhattan steakhouse has agreed to pay $600,000 to settle allegations that a male manager sexually harassed close to two dozen male waiters, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The lawsuit against Sparks Steak House stated that over an eight-year period a male manager repeatedly grabbed the buttocks of 22 men on the wait staff, along with making unwanted sexual comments. The manager also attempted to touch some the men’s genitals.
Even though many of the men approached the restaurant’s manager about the abusive behavior, the EEOC alleged that no one took steps to end the harassment.
In addition to paying the men $600,000, Sparks Steak House is also required to institute a sexual harassment and anti-discrimination training program and must establish a hotline for employees.
Over the past few years, the EEOC has seen a decline in the overall reports of sexual harassment, but reports of male-on-male harassment have increased by 16 percent.
The decrease of reports would indicate that sexual harassment is no longer a major issue in the workplace, but this may not be the case since many women ignore the misconduct for fear they will not be taken seriously or will be fired. This also applies to men.
No one, male or female, should have to tolerate this abuse, but when their superiors refuse to take action, the victims must turn to a New York sexual harassment lawyer to put a stop to the unwanted behavior. With the help of a skilled attorney those who have faced discrimination, harassment and retaliation can pursue a financial settlement for lost wages and emotional distress.
Albany, NY- Republican Assemblyman Steve Katz was highly critical of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for paying off a woman to keep a sexual harassment allegation against Vito Lopez secret. But it has been revealed that Katz himself faced a sexual harassment lawsuit in the past.
Katz was sued in 2002, when a female worker at his Bronx veterinary clinic accused a coworker of sexually harassing her and Katz did nothing to stop the abuser. Just one month after the woman informed Katz that she was being harassed he fired her, according to pressconnects.com.
The case was finally settled in 2006 for $105,000, but not before Katz tried to have the case dismissed, the court documents revealed.
Katz along with other Republican lawmakers called for Silver’s resignation after fellow Assemblyman Vito Lopez was accused of harassing his young female aides earlier this summer. Under intense public scrutiny, a previous lawsuit against Lopez surfaced where Silver agreed to pay off a former female employee to keep quiet about the scandal.
Employees expect that their employers will protect them against abuse and a hostile work environment. But too often employers instead punish the complainant; this is called retaliation and is just as toxic as the harassment.
Because retaliation is so common that the victims of harassment have no other choice than to solicit help. A New York sexual harassment attorney will work hard to get the employee the compensation they deserve for their emotional duress and any wages lost due to retaliation.
Miami, FL- An African-American firefighter has filed a complaint against the Miami fire department alleging that he has been subjected to sexual harassment and racial discrimination by his peers and superiors.
Brian Gentles, 26, wanted to be a firefighter since he was young Jamaican immigrant, but when he joined the department he was faced with repeated harassment for his race. One recruit in particular continually used the word “n*gger” and in one incident a lieutenant handed him a Burger King application and told him to “go be with his people.”
The abuse reached a peak when one of his peers put his testicles in Gentles’ face; this is referred to as tea-bagging. Two weeks into training, while Gentles’ was eating his lunch a fellow recruit took out his testicles and thrust them into Gentles’ face.
In September, a week after the tea-bagging incident, Gentles’ complained to his supervisors, and they launched an investigation. Several of his coworkers backed up his claims of racial discrimination.
But in February, he was fired for no apparent reason. Gentles’ then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He is seeking punitive damages and lost wages.
Any type of harassment whether it is sexually or racially based can create a hostile working environment. This can create emotional distress and negatively affect other workers. And the fear of retaliation can stop people from reporting abuses.
Victims of discrimination and harassment need to be confident that their employers will take action against an offended. If they don’t, a person can retain a sexual harassment attorney to make their employers address the problem and compensate them for their distress.