December 14, 2014

Braun Electric Pays $82,500 To Settle A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Braun Electric Company pays $82,500 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, a male manager continually subjected female workers to a hostile work environment since 2010. The manager made daily grotesque remarks of a sexual nature to female subordinates and made explicit sexual propositions on a continual basis.

And Braun's management failed to adequately address reports of sexual harassment. Additionally, supervisors failed to report incidents of sexual harassment they witnessed. In Illinois there is strict liability on a company when a member of management engages in sexual harassment. And if the company is told about the harassment and fails to stop it there is liability even if the harasser is not a member of management. In this case one female employee was forced to quit as a result of the ongoing hostile work environment; which is called a constructive discharge.

"The policies, procedures, training, and monitoring that Braun Electric has agreed to put in place will go a long way toward protecting employees from harassment." said EEOC attorney Anna Park
May 9, 2014

Car Dealership Settles Hostile Work Environment For $2 Million

Pitre Inc. a car dealership agreed to settle a same-sex sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts a former lot manager, James Gallegos, under the direction of Charles Ratliff, Jr., then general manager,subjected a class of men to egregious forms of sexual harassment.

The sexual harassment included shocking sexual comments, frequent solicitations for oral sex, and regular touching, grabbing, and biting of male workers on their buttocks and genitals. This case involved over 50 men, who will all be sharing in the settlement amount.
Pitre retaliated against male employees who objected to the sexually hostile work environment.

"This settlement serves to remedy the egregious sexual harassment that the EEOC alleged the men were subjected to by Pitre," "It also raises awareness that all employees, male and female, are entitled to work in an environment free of sexual harassment and retaliation." said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez.
May 7, 2014

Hostile Work Environments Based On Sexual Harassment

So my Chicago office gets many calls from women who believe they are in a hostile work environment. And the conversation always turns to what created the hostile work environment? There is no general hostile environment under the law in Illinois. Therefore there needs to be some form in discrimination creating the environment. So if you were the victim of sexual harassment at work and that created the environment than you could file a complaint.

The complaint can be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I always file with the IDHR because they will cross-file with the EEOC and the must conduct an investigation within one-year. The most important thing to do is speak with an employment attorney and learn your right.

May 6, 2014

What Can I Do If My Co-Worker Make Fun Of My National Origin?

So your co-workers found out you are from Iraq and they keep pestering you at work about it. You ask them to stop but they won't. The nasty comments directed at your national origin are making it uncomfortable and are creating a hostile work environment. What, if anything, can you do? Well, you have rights at work, and those rights include being free from any form of discrimination. You should report this conduct to top management or human resources. Also, if you have a policy against discrimination, follow the policy for reporting the conduct.

You should also contact an employment lawyer who concentrates in national origin cases. He can advise you on how best to proceed. If the need arises, he can also file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will conduct an investigation into the alleged conduct and allow you some relief. The most important thing to do is something. Don't sit by and let this conduct continue.

May 2, 2014

Hostile Work Environment From Sexual Harassment

So what is a hostile work environment in Illinois? Well, there is no such thing as a general hostile work environment. Under the law the environment must be created by some form of discrimination. For example, if you are being subjected to request for sex by your supervisor, that would be sexual harassment. And as a result of that harassment a hostile work environment would be created. But if the boss is just a jerk to everyone, you don't meet the legal definition of a hostile work environment.

What that means for you is that there must be some underlying discrimination before you can pursue a claim under the Illinois Human Rights Act. It is always best to discuss your potential case with an experienced discrimination lawyer. He will be able to guide you through the legal requirements and evaluate your evidence.

April 26, 2014

What Can I Do If I Am Being Treated Different Because Of My Age?

So you are at work in Chicago and the boss just won't stop picking on you. He treats you so much different than the younger employees. You ask him about it and he makes comments about you being old. What, if anything, can you do about it? Well, it is against the law in Illinois to treat you different because of you age. It is called age discrimination and you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is a state agency that is tasked with investigating discrimination in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois.

The discrimination will create a hostile work environment for you and may cost you money in the form of promotion. Under the law a worker cannot be treated different because of his age. The age cut-off is over 40 years of age. That means if you are 40 or over, you can't be treated different than younger workers. Many employers just don't get that message and sometimes it requires intervention by the IDHR.

April 25, 2014

What Can I Do If My Co-Workers Keep Calling Me Gay At Work?

So your co-workers found out you are gay and they keep pestering you at work. You ask them to stop but they won't. The nasty homophobic comments are making it uncomfortable and are creating a hostile work environment. What, if anything, can you do? Well, you have rights at work, and those rights include being free from any form of discrimination. You should report this conduct to top management or human resources. Also, if you have a policy against discrimination, follow the policy for reporting the conduct.

You should also contact an employment lawyer who concentrates in sexual orientation cases. He can advise you on how best to proceed. If the need arises, he can also file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will conduct an investigation into the alleged conduct and allow you some relief. The most important thing to do is something. Don't sit by and let this conduct continue.

April 24, 2014

What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

Quid Pro Quo is Latin and stand for the proposition of "this for that." In the context of sexual harassment it refers to a situation where the boss tell you to have sex in return for favorable employment consideration. So if you have sex with the boss something good work related will happen to you. Of course this creates a hostile work environment for everyone else at work. If this happens to you at work, there are things you can do to protect yourself.

First, you should contact an employment attorney who concentrates in sexual harassment cases. Second, you should try and save any text messages or emails. If you do come forward the burden is on you to prove this actually happened. The boss doesn't have to disprove the allegations against him. You have to prove the allegations against the boss, so keep that in mind.

March 27, 2014

My Boss Is Forcing Me To Hav Sex With Him, What Should I Do?

So your boss has been hounding you to go out on a date. Now the boss has taken you out, gotten you drunk and the two of you had sex. You really didn't want to have sex but you felt like your job was on the line if you didn't. What is this called in Illinois and what protections if any do you have? This would be a clear case of sexual harassment under the Illinois Human Rights Act. You have the legal right to be free from any type of sexual conduct from a supervisor while at work. The fact that you felt pressured to have sex to keep your job assures that is was sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as an unwanted sexual advance--which this would be.

So you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") claiming sexual harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment. There is going to be strict liability on the company because the supervisor is the one doing the harassment. You can also file a complaint with the IDHR against the supervisor individually. But what you should do first is contact an aggressive and experienced employment lawyer who concentrates on these types of cases.

March 26, 2014

What Do I Do If I Can't Afford An Employment Lawyer?

So many people think they can't afford a lawyer. The prices lawyers charge are very high but also justified. However, most working people can't afford that price. Additionally, if you have just been fired from your job you no longer have an income. So how can you hire a discrimination lawyer for your employment discrimination lawsuit? The answer is simple. You need to find a lawyer who will work on contingency fee basis. What this means is that he will get a percentage of any money collected from a judgment or settlement. If no money is collected, you don't owe him anything.

The good thing about hiring a lawyer on contingency basis is that you don't have to put any money up front. And, if the lawyer is taking your case on contingency fee basis, it is a good indication he believes he can settle your case for some money. So if you find yourself in a hostile work environment and you need to quit your job, don't worry about saving money to hire an attorney. You just need to find one that works on a contingency fee basis and you will be okay.

March 23, 2014

What Is A Hostile Work Environment?

So my Chicago office gets this call more than any other. What exactly is a hostile work environment in Illinois? In fact many people think they are in a hostile work environment and under the law they aren't. In short, in order to be in a hostile work environment in Illinois you must be the victim of discrimination as defined by the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). The Act lists all of the categories of discrimination. Under the Act if you are the victim of one of those categories you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR").

So what does this have to do with the hostile work environment? Well, if you are being discriminated against at work you are then in a hostile work environment. So if you are being singled out because you are a female, you would be the victim of gender discrimination which could make your workplace hostile. However, there is no general hostile work environment in Illinois. So if the boss yells at you but also yells at everyone else, you are not being singled out and therefore you probably don't have a case. It is important to get the facts of your particular situation in front of a lawyer and get his advice.

March 18, 2014

Olympia Construction, Inc. Pays $100,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Olympia Construction, Inc. pays $100,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of three men. According to published accounts, Olympia subjected Adrian Soles, Anthony Moorer and George McWilliams to racial slurs and intimidation. This created a hostile work environment for the three men. The men tried to put up with this activity and even reported the conduct.

Olympia terminated the three men because they complained to the EEOC. This is called retaliation. You cannot take a negative job action, including termination, when someone files a complaint with the EEOC. The company would have been better served to investigate the complaint and take corrective action. In this case the company just made matters worse by firing the three men. As you can see, this type of behavior by the company ends up costing them in the end.

"Our hope is that this case will serve as prevention for years to come and a reminder that discrimination is illegal and has no place in the 21st century workplace." said EEOC Attorney Marsha Rucker
March 10, 2014

Sexual Harassment In Business Travel For Work

So you are at work and the boss tells you that there is a business meeting out of state and you are attending it with him. You usually don't go on these types of meetings but don't think much about it. However, once at the airport the boss starts asking about your personal life and seems to talk less about business. You feel uncomfortable but don't wish to rock the boat. Now at the hotel the boss wants to meet you for drinks in the hotel bar and he seems more creepy. He even talks about sex and how hot your body is. What if anything can you do? Well, you are in a tough position because the boss is in charge of your career and you don't want to hurt your career. On the other hand, you don't want to go for a drink.

You should make an excuse to not meet for a drink. Saying you don't feel the best is always good. Also, don't answer your hotel room phone. If he calls you, make sure he calls you on your cell phone so you have a record of the call. And don't answer your cell phone, let him leave you a message. This way you have a recording of what he is saying. At this point you need evidence to show he is engaging in sexual harassment and making unwanted sexual advances toward you. Remember, this is going to create a hostile work environment for you when you return from the trip. Without any evidence, the boss will just deny things and you will be in trouble.

February 28, 2014

Are Sexual Comments Sexual Harassment?

So you are working downtown in Chicago and the boss keeps making sexual comments around you. You really don't like it but you are afraid to say anything. What are your rights and what obligation is there from the company to stop this? Under the law, sexual comments are considered sexual harassment. If the person making the comments is your boss, there is strict liability on the company even if you don't report the conduct. If the person is not your boss, you must report the conduct and then the company has an obligation to stop the comments-or they would have liability.

So in this case, the company has strict liability because the boss is making the comments. Therefore, companies should make sure they have the proper training in place to prevent this type of activity from occurring. They should make sure their management employees understand the potential liability the company will undertake if they conduct themselves with this sort of behavior.

The most important thing for you to do if this is happening to you, is to contact an employment attorney who concentrates in sexual harassment cases. This type of activity creates a very hostile work environment and could compromise your work abilities. No matter what, make sure you take action.

February 27, 2014

JP Morgan Chase Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $1,450,000

JP Morgan Chase pays $1,450,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a group of female mortgage brokers. From what has been reported, the company was out of control and allowed some pretty crazy activities to take place. According to published documents, JP Morgan Chase maintained a hostile work environment towards its female mortgage bankers. This particular hostile work environment consisted of sexually charged behavior and sexual comments from the supervisory staff and participating mortgage bankers. As you can imagine this created a very hostile environment for the females.

Not all of the female workers participate in this type of forced behavior. The female mortgage bankers who did not embrace and participate in this nasty behavior became ostracized and suffered economic consequences. The details of what happened to the females are they were deprived of lucrative sales calls, deprived of training opportunities, and denied other benefits of employment. This type of behavior where people who participate in the sexual activities are rewarded is disgusting. I am glad the EEOC held the companies feet to the fire and made them pay.

"This case demonstrates the EEOC's ongoing commitment to ensuring that women enjoy the same terms and conditions of employment as their male counterparts and that their success on the job cannot be conditioned on participating in a sexually hostile work environment," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez.
January 23, 2014

Evidence In Sexual Harassment Cases

So your boss is making comments to you and it is your belief that you are the victim of sexual harassment. What can you do to protect yourself at work? Is it enough to just come forward and complain to management or human resources? What happens if the person denies they are harassing you? These are all very good questions and I will attempt to answer them in this blog post. First, it is always a good idea to have as much evidence as possible before coming forward. This can best be accomplished by contacting an employment lawyer who concentrates in these matters. There are techniques for getting evidence that an experienced person knows. And usually this type of behavior will create a hostile work environment for you.

You should keep a journal about what is taking place. Write the times and dates as well as the names of any other employees who may be around and witnessing what is taking place. If the harassing person sends you a text, email or leaves a voice mail, save them. This will be your best evidence. In most cases the person who is harassing you will deny they did anything wrong. Sometimes the denial will be a flat out denial. Other times, the denial will consist of an attempt to make it look like mutual flirting or just kidding around. This is where an experienced attorney can help you. Don't attempt to risk your career but going it alone.

January 22, 2014

Sexual Harassment Victim Receives $250,000 Settlement

A former employee who filed a federal lawsuit alleging a supervisor routinely sexually harassed her, settled her lawsuit for $250,000. According to published accounts Patricia McIver received the money after agreeing to drop her sexual harassment lawsuit against the county. The settlement also came with a confidentiality agreement that prevents her from discussing details of the case. The allegations were that Dennis Bergevin harassed her for years. She quit after putting up with this behavior for a long period of time. When a person quits like that because of discrimination, it is called a constructive discharge.

The lawsuit also alleged that McIver was subjected to a hostile work environment and also quid pro quo request for sexual favors. Quid pro quo is Latin for this for that. It means that a person is demanding sex in exchange for the person keeping their job or some other favor. Additionally, McIver was subjected to other verbal and physical conduct by Bergevin. McIver was told if she resisted the sexual harassment she could be fired. I think the settlement amount speaks volumes about who was telling the truth in this matter.


January 21, 2014

Female Receptionist Awarded $30,000 For Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Southwest Virginia Community Health System, Inc. ("SVCHS") pays $30,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Karen Ross. According to published accounts, Ross, a female receptionist was sexually harassed by a male patient during her employment at the clinic. Sexual Harassment doesn't require both the employee and harasser to be both employed by the company. If a customer is doing the sexual harassment the company can still have liability under the law.

Ross complained to her supervisor about the patient's sexually harassing conduct, but no action was taken to stop the abuse. Because nothing was done to stop the harassment a hostile work environment was then created. This resulted in the company being liable for the acts of the non-employee. The company should have taken action and if they did, the company would not have to pay to settle this case.

"Women should never be forced to work in a sexually hostile work environment, "Employers have a responsibility to prevent sexual harassment not only by co-workers, but also by third parties, including patients and customers." said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
January 17, 2014

Can You Be Fired For Reporting Sexual Harassment?

My Chicago office gets many calls asking the same basic question. What can happen to me if I report that someone else at work is being victimized and sexually harassed? Well under the law you can't be fired or otherwise have a negative job action taken against you for reporting this type of activity. Here is a recent case to prove the point. Security giant Guardsmark engaged in retaliation by firing a security guard who opposed a sexually hostile work environment. The retaliation complaint was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the man.

According to published accounts Guardsmark terminated Christopher Smith in retaliation for his role in a woman's sexual harassment complaint. In what turns out to be a very creepy practice, another security guard used security cameras to zoom in on women's private parts. Smith told the security guard to stop, but the guard continued to engage in the behavior. Smith told a woman about the guard's actions, and the woman filed a sexual harassment complaint with the contractor for whom she worked. As a result of doing the right thing Smith was terminated. And that is illegal under the law.

"Title VII protects employees from being retaliated against for opposing sexual harassment even if they complain to someone else, like a co-worker or client." explained EEOC attorney Nedra Campbell
December 14, 2013

Grocery Store Pays $325,000 To Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Save-A-Lot grocery store operated by Venture, Inc. pays $325,000 to settle a class sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts a manager employed by Venture repeatedly propositioned female employees for sex. He even offered money and benefits in exchange for sex. Not only is this a violation of civil rights laws, but it is also a crime to proposition a person for sex. The company ended up paying a large amount of money and getting embarrassed by the actions of this manager.

The manager used sexually offensive and degrading language and made graphic comments describing sex acts. This type of vulgar activity was directed at over 20 female employees. This created a sexually hostile work environment. It is hard to believe the company was not aware that this was taking place. The company has a duty to ensure a harassment-free workplace for all employees. These poor females had to ensure this type of behavior for many months. I am glad this matter was resolved and other companies should take notice and better train managers.

"There is no excuse for the sort of misconduct that was charged here -- unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and degrading language - especially when directed at so many employees" said EEOC attorney Delner Franklin-Thomas
November 19, 2013

Chicago Housing Authoring Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $99,000

The Chicago Housing Authority ("CHA") settles a sexual harassment complaint against ousted CEO Charles Woodyard for $99,000. According to published accounts, an unidentified woman claimed she was disciplined, then fired, when she blew the whistle on Woodyard. When a person is fired for reporting discrimination it is called retaliation. The fact that the city paid this large amount of money would indicate that there were facts supporting the sexual harassment claim. This case wasn't settled for nuisance type money.

There are two types of sexual harassment. One is where the harasser tries to have sex with the employee. The other type is based on sexual type comments that create a hostile work environment. In any event you can see that when you engage in this type of conduct it usually cost your employer some money. The city was wise to put this matter behind them and settle the case. Things could have only gotten worse if the case dragged on.

The former CHA chief said, “The allegations are false. I never sexually harassed anyone.”
November 8, 2013

What Is A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

So my Chicago office gets many calls from employee who think they are in a hostile work environment. However, upon listening to the facts of their case, I determine that under the law they aren't. So what is a hostile work environment in Chicago? Well first there is no general harassment law in Illinois. That means if the boss is just a jerk and yells at you there is nothing you can do. Of course you can quit but from a legal perspective you don't file anything. However, if you are being picked on based on your race, gender or other protected category, you may have a case. Additionally if you are the victim of sexual harassment that would create a hostile work environment for you.

So if any of these are taking place, you probably have some legal protection and you should contact an attorney. It is important to have as much documentation as possible as the burden of proof is on you. Remember to remain cool at work and don't give the company a legitimate reason to fire you. Also, remember that before you come forward and complain have a plan. Don't just go off half-cocked and think your problem will be solved.

October 18, 2013

Does Sexual Talk Create A Hostile Work Environment At Work In Chicago?

So you are at work in downtown Chicago and the boss is always talking about sex. It is really annoying and you are tired of it. But now the sex talk seems directed at you and it feels like a hostile work environment for you. You hate to come into work because you know what will happen when the boss is around. You look forward to the times when the boss it out of the office so you can get some peace and quite. The sex talk keeps increasing and you don't know what you should or can do about it? It is getting to the point where you are even thinking about quitting.

Well first if the sexual talk rises to the level of sexual harassment under the Illinois Human RIghts Act ("Act"), you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). There are two types of sexual harassment, quid quo pro, which is Latin for this for that. The second type is the creation of a hostile work environment. If the work place gets too hostile and you quit that is called a constructive discharge. So there are many different issues at play and an experienced lawyer who handles employment issues can help you sort through them all.

July 14, 2013

Diner Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $25,000

Silver Diner pays $25,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit involved sexual harassment and retaliation. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after initial talks to settle the case failed. According to published documents one of the restaurant's co-owners subjected waitress Laura Jones to a hostile work environment. The hostile work environment was created by comments about Thompson's appearance and by the co-owner rubbing up against her while she was at work. The co-owner also did supervisory duties and was in fact the supervisor for Jones. He would also tell her to get rid of her boyfriend if she wanted to advance at work. This is considered sexual harassment and obviously implies that he wished to have a sexual relationship with her. If there is sexual harassment by a supervisor immediate and absolute liability attaches to the company. In this case the co-owner subjected the entire company to liability by his actions.

Jones complained about the sexual harassment to the head waitress and other owners of the restaurant. This is where her real problem started. Shortly after complaining about this discriminatory conduct the company reduced her hours. The sexual advances and comments toward Jones ceased but she was working the fewest hours among other servers at the restaurant. So on the one hand things got better for her as far as the nasty conduct stopping but on the other hand she was feeling the impact in her pocketbook. This is called retaliation. Retaliation occurs when a person reports sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination and as a result has a negative job action taken against her. In this case the negative job action was the cut in hours, resulting in a cut in pay. After this took place she complained about the reduction of her hours for the final time, and the company fired her in retaliation for her complaints. So you really had two forms of retaliation. One was the cut in her hours for reporting the sexual harassment and the other retaliation was firing her for complaining about the cut in hours for reporting the harassment.

One thing that most people don't realize is that any negative job action without justification can be viewed as retaliation under the law. In this case, the only reason for the cut in hours was she complained of sexual harassment. The company did what many corporations do, they tried to make the entire matter go away by disciplining and then firing the complainer. It is my experience that this type of strategy never works and usually ends up with a lawsuit. This also usually ends up costing the company money in legal fees and in settlement dollars for the employee. And the company also ends up with a good deal of bad publicity over the matter. It is always wise to take discrimination complaints seriously and to treat the person making the complaint with respect.

If my Chicago office, which handles many sexual harassment cases, has one message it would be this. If you are the victim of any form of employment discrimination in Chicago or in downstate Illinois, contact my office for a free consultation. Don't let these terrible events take place and go unchallenged.


"Sexual harassment by a company's owner is especially harmful." said EEOC attorney Lynette Barnes

July 13, 2013

Pacific Airport Services, Inc. Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $65,000

Pacific Airport Services, Inc. pays $65,000 to settle a multi-count lawsuit involving sexual harassment and constructive discharge. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after initial settlement discussions failed. Before we begin with an analysis of the facts, lets discuss a few terms. Under the law a constructive discharge occurs when an employee is subjected to discrimination and conditions at work get so bad that any reasonable person would quit the job. The quitting is treated as a firing based on the discriminatory conduct. The second term to discuss is sexual harassment. Under the law, sexual harassment is any unwanted attempt at a sexual relationship or sexual comments that create a hostile work environment. Also, if the sexual comments are directed at another employee but you hear them, they could create a form of discrimination for you too. And if a supervisor is having a sexual relationship with another employee this could cause you to be subjected to sexual harassment as you could be denied promotional or other opportunities because you are not having sex with the boss.

According to published accounts a number of customer service agents were sexually harassed by their male supervisor while working for Pacific Airport Services. Under the law if a supervisor is doing the sexual harassment there is immediate liability on the company. Another words, you don't first have to complain to human resources or report the conduct before liability attaches. The supervisor continuously subjected the women to sexual comments and advances, asking the women to perform sexual acts. This is probably the most troubling type of sexual harassment. Women should be allowed to go to work and do their job without being subjected to this type of behavior. In at least one instance, the supervisor allegedly requested oral sex from one of the customer service agents. One has to wonder what type of training these members of management had prior to being allowed to supervise other employees? Companies would be wise to spend time and money up front training management on what is proper behavior in the workplace. In this case the supervisor also grabbed the women, fondled their buttocks and placed his pelvic area in front of a female employee's face. So that was the basis for the sexual harassment claim.

On the constructive discharge claim the following occurred. The females complained to management about the sexual harassment but the supervisor was not adequately disciplined since he maintained his supervisorial authority even after the conduct was reported. To make matters worse, at least one of the women was forced to resign as a result of continued hostility on the part of her supervisor. That is the constructive discharge. When things get so bad that the female could no longer come into work, she had no other recourse. The company should not have left the supervisor in place after this conduct was reported. You can see how much money this cost the company in settlement funds but also in legal fees and they lost a good employee. My Chicago offices gets many calls from women that are in similar circumstances. It is very important that these women come forward and protect their rights. Negative job reviews or getting fired for reporting sexual harassment can have a negative impact of your future career prospects. You may lose income in the hundreds of thousands of dollars down the road for something that is taking place right now. Make sure you protect your rights and take action now.

"Employers are responsible for maintaining a harassment-free environment for their employees. Those who have a well-distributed policy against sexual harassment, train employees on the policy and employ staff who are able to effectively investigate complaints will go a long way toward preventing such abuses on the job." said EEOC attorney Timothy Riera
June 30, 2013

Chicago Sexual Harassment Attorney Tips

Here are some tips for you if as an employee you find yourself in a situation in which you believe you are the victim of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is an ongoing problem in Chicago and my office helps many employees get compensated for their damage. There are many forms of damages including lost wages, future lost wages, money for emotional distress and anxiety, attorney fees, medical reimbursement and more. The medical reimbursement can include counselors, psychiatrists, and other professionals who can be brought in to make sure the employee is getting the proper care and treatment. It is very important to ask for the proper damage during the initial demand letter to the company.

Another tip for an employee is to save all communications that the employee receives that can help prove the sexual harassment. This can include emails, text messages, voice messages, hand written notes and any other form of communications such as a Facebook posting or Twitter message. As social media gets more widespread among employees, many times Twitter messages can be utilized to show discrimination in the workplace. A savvy employment lawyer can search and find this type of evidence and help win your case. And this type of evidence can make or break your case. So tens of thousands of dollars can be at stake. This is why it is very important to research a good solid experienced Chicago sexual harassment lawyer to help pursue your claim and give you advice on how best to procede.

Another great tip is to keep a journal. Now the journal isn't first hand evidence per se, but rather a current account of what happened to you. Make sure you include the names of witnesses, the times and dates things took place and who else was either in the room or around when the comments or harassment occurred. This can be used to refresh the memory of witnesses later on. Another question that I get asked a great deal about is do I have to report the conduct to the company before I file a complaint with either the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")? The answer is it depends. In order for liability to attach in Illinois, you must report the conduct to the company unless the person doing the harassment is a member of management. If the person is a member of management liability attached automatically.

Another great tip for employees is to keep your mouth shut. The old saying that loose lips sink ships is a great slogan and it applies here. There is no reason to discuss what is occurring with other employees. For one thing, the other employee may sabotage your case for whatever reason. And if the company ends up settling the case, they will want a confidentiality agreement in place as part of the settlement. If you have told the world about what is taking place that may reduce the amount of money the company is willing to pay you in exchange for settling the case. So just discuss with immediate family members and your lawyer. This is the best approach to have when faced with a hostile work environment in Chicago.

Remember if you are in Chicago and the victim of sexual harassment, seek out an experienced attorney and protect your employment rights. The harassment will not go away by itself and no one will look out for you if you don't look out for yourself. Be proactive and make the call.

June 4, 2013

Joe-Ryan Enterprises Inc. Pays $15,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Joe-Ryan Enterprises, Inc. pays $15,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to allegations, a female office clerk was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment including vulgar, insulting and derogatory comments about women and sexually explicit pictures in the workplace.

Rhonda Brown was the employee who was the female that was subjected to the hostile work environment and was the only female employee who regularly worked in the company's small office. The hostile work environment became so intolerable Brown was forced to resign which is considered constructive discharge under the law.

"We are pleased this settlement is targeted to improve the work environment for all employees in this workforce. It should help ensure no worker feels victimized because of gender." said EEOC attorney Gerald Miller
May 30, 2013

Is There A General Hostile Work Environment In Illinois?

So my Chicago offices probably gets this question more than any other. Is there a general hostile work environment in Illinois? The answer is No. There must be some form of discrimination that forms the basis for the hostile work environment. There is no bullying law in Illinois. So if the boss is just a jerk or just yells at people all the time there really isn't anything you can do about it. Unless you are being singled out because of a protected category, you have to take it or quit.

I know this doesn't seem fair but it is the law. Sometimes speaking with an experienced employment lawyer will help you decide if there is an underlying form of discrimination that is creating the hostile work environment. Remember it is always helpful and a good idea to know what your rights are and to speak with someone who does this type of work for a living. Protect yourself while you are at work.

May 24, 2013

Are Sexy Text Messages A Form Of A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

So your boss keeps sending you sexual type text messages. He tells you how sexy you look and what he would like to do to you after work. Is this a hostile work environment in Chicago? The answer is yes. In fact this would be considered sexual harassment and you would have a claim against both the supervisor and the company. Under state law, there is strict liability against the company if a supervisor engages in sexual harassment. That means there is no requirement that the employee report the conduct before liability attaches.

What this means for employers is a good amount of training on sexual harassment should be taking place. If a company chooses not to properly supervise or train its workforce, it runs the risk of paying monetary damages in court or through settlement. And what this means for employees is that if you are the victim of sexual harassment by the supervisor, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer to seek what rights and remedies you have. Remember if you go to human resources, their obligation is to the company not you.

May 11, 2013

What Is A Hostile Work Environment?

There are many confusing terms related to employment law. There is probably not a more confusing or misunderstood term than a hostile work environment. My Chicago office gets more calls about hostile work environments than any other type of discrimination, except sexual harassment. Why so many calls? Well it is a confusing issue. To give a very short and concise explanation, in order to be in a hostile work environment there must be some underlying form of discrimination. It is not enough that the boss just yells or throws things. If the boss is just a jerk, too bad, there is nothing you can do in Illinois. There is no general harassment law in Illinois. There is no bullying law in Illinois.

However, if the boss is making sexual comments to people and it creates an atmosphere that is not conducive to work, that could be an example of a hostile work environment. This will be a fact specific determination and an experienced and skilled employment lawyer who handles discrimination cases can explain this to you. It is very important that you don't wait too long to discuss what is happening to you. There are very short and strict time limits involved in filing a complaint. Don't be a victim--protect your employment rights.

May 5, 2013

Examples Of Hostile Work Environments In Illinois

My Chicago office gets many calls regarding what it takes to have a hostile work environment in Illinois. Many people are confused about what is covered under the law. In order to have a hostile work environment in Chicago and throughout Illinois, there must be some underlying form of discrimination. So for example, if you are the victim of sexual harassment that could be the cause of a hostile work environment. Of course you should report the sexual harassment

What isn't a hostile work environment is general harassment. There is no protection under the law is the boss is just a jerk to everyone. So if the boss yells all the time and is just not a nice person, there really isn't anything you can do. A few years ago there was an effort to pass a bullying law but that effort failed. So in order to have a true hostile work environment that is actionable in Illinois there must be a form of discrimination.

April 30, 2013

Chicago Hostile Work Environments

So my Chicago offices gets many calls from employees regarding what constitutes a hostile work environment in Illinois. The first thing to remember is there is no general harassment or bullying law in Illinois. What that means is that if the boss yells at everyone and is just a jackass, as an employee you don't have any protection under the law. You only have protection under the law if the hostile work environment is created because of sexual harassment or some other form of discrimination. So if you are being singled out because of a protected category, that could form the basis for the discrimination.

This type of case is always very fact specific and you should discuss the facts with an experienced employment lawyer. There are many different issue to discuss including the statute of limitation to filing such a complaint. If it determined you can file a complaint I would file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the complaint within one-year. There are many ways to help the IDHR with their investigation and an experienced lawyer can guide you through the process. Contact an employment lawyer and protect your rights.

April 27, 2013

The Boss Wants To Have Sex With Me What Should I Do?

So I am just trying to do my job and mind my own business but the boss keeps hitting on me. I am tired of him asking me out and what makes matters worse, he is married. Because he is married he obviously just wants a sexual relationship with me. What are my options in Illinois? What you just described is sexual harassment under the law and would be considered a hostile work environment. To make matters worse this type of activity usually leads to one of two other forms of discrimination. Either the employee will get tired of being hit on and quit--which is called a constructive discharge. Or the employee will tell the boss off and then the boss will engage in retaliation. In Illinois retaliation is any negative job action that takes place after rejecting or reporting sexual harassment or discrimination.

The most important thing you can do is contact an very aggressive experienced employment lawyer to find out with your options are. You can be the company will have legal advice and will protect themselves. Another thing you can do is to save as much evidence as possible. This would include text messages, emails, voice messages and anything in writing. For example, the boss may leave you a sexy note on your chair or computer monitor. Also, try to be next to another employee when the boss comes by so you have a witness to what is being said. Don't be the victim of sexual harassment.

April 26, 2013

Are Sexual Comments Sexual Harassment in Illinois?

So your boss is always making sexual comments to you and other at work. Aside from getting tiresome, you think it is creepy and want it to stop. You tell him to stop and just laughs it off. What if anything can you do about it? Well in Illinois, sexual comments could rise to the level of sexual harassment under the law. The first thing you wan to do is make sure you can prove he is saying these things. Be advised in Illinois it is against the law to record someone without their permission. That means if you plan on recording the boss, you have to tell him that you are turning on your recorder and that if he says anything after being advised of this he is consenting to being recorded. Obviously this probably isn't a good idea.

So how do you prove your case? Well, others may hear the comments and they could come forward as witnesses. Also, he may put the comments in a text message or email--which you should save. Lastly, You can send him an email telling him about the comments he just made and hopefully he will respond with something that indicates he actually just made the comments. You should always contact an experienced employment lawyer to discuss all of your options. This type of conduct not only creates a hostile work environment for you but also for other employees.

April 21, 2013

Is Nasty Talk At Work Sexual Harassment?

There is a question as to what is and isn't sexual harassment in Illinois. What if the boss if just talking about nasty stuff all the time. Is that by itself sexual harassment? Well the short answer is that it could be. Whether it would rise to the level of sexual harassment in Illinois would be determined by the actual facts. Generally, sexual comments and talks if they happen enough would rise to the level of sexual harassment. The comments don't even have to be that graphic. Under the law an employee is entitled to a workplace this is free from sexual talk. Sexual talk can make the workplace a hostile work environment.

If you happen to find yourself in a tough spot and the victim of sexual harassment, speak with an employment lawyer. The lawyer can give you the best advice as to what to do next. Usually, a complaint can be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). You can visit my website and watch the video on what takes place at the IDHR. The most important thing you should remember is there is a strict time limit in place for filing a complaint. If you wait too long your claim may be lost. Act fast and don't be the victim of sexual harassment.

April 19, 2013

Chicago Sees Increase In Hostile Work Environments At Work

My Chicago office is seeing a rise in the the number of reported hostile work environments created by bosses. Employees seem to be under a great deal of stress due to bosses who are engaging in discrimination and other conduct that leaves employees seeking out legal advice. So what is a hostile work environment in Chicago? Under the law if you are the victim of discrimination and the discriminatory conduct creates an atmosphere of hostility, fear or stress that a reasonable person would find objectionable--it is a hostile work environment. The underlying discrimination could be sexual harassment, or discrimination based on sexual orientation to name a few.

So what can you do if this is happening to you? You should document what is happening and gather as much evidence as possible. Save emails, text messages, voice mails and note the names of any other employees who witnessed what is taking place. Additionally, seek out an experienced lawyer who concentrates on employment law. The most important thing to do is something. There are very strict time limits that apply to employment discrimination cases. Make sure you don't let yourself fall victim to this type of activity.

April 9, 2013

Hostile Work Environments In Chicago Suburbs

There are many different forms of discrimination. I get a great deal of calls from the suburbs of Chicago asking relatively the same question. My boss is having a sexual relationship with a co-worker and as a result I believe she gets treated much better and is getting promoted because of it. What if anything can I do? The short answer is that this type of conduct may create a hostile work environment under the law in Illinois. Even though the sex is consensual the fact that the co-worker may be getting a promotion because she is having sex with the boss and you aren't is a form of sexual harassment. Because in the example I just gave, sex is an implicit term of the promotion. Another words, but for the sex, the co-worker would not be getting the promotion.

So what can you do if this is happening to you? I would speak with an employment lawyer at once. If you came to my office, based on these facts I would file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is required by law to investigate the complaint and issue a finding of either substantial evidence or lack thereof. The most important point is to make sure you have as much evidence as possible. Evidence would be other witnesses, text messages, emails and voice mails. Remember if you are claiming they are engaged in a sexual relationship, you must prove it.

April 3, 2013

Is There A General Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

So my offices gets many calls from people who claim to be in a hostile work environment in downtown Chicago. The problem is there is no general hostile work environment in Illinois. Under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") the hostile work environment must be as a result of some discriminatory type conduct. So for example if the boss is engaging in sexual harassment that would cause a hostile work environment. But if the boss is just yelling and acting like a jackass, that would not be actionable in Illinois under the Act.

There is a major difference between mean or tasteless comments and discrimination. My advice to people is to contact an experienced employment lawyer and discuss what is taking place at work. Of course save any evidence you may have such as text messages or emails. Also, the names and contact information of any witnesses who may have heard the boss saying things to you. The most important thing is not to wait too long. There are strict time limits for filing a claim of discrimination in Illinois.

March 9, 2013

What Can You Do About A Hostile Work Environment In Illinois?

Before we discuss what you can do about a hostile work environment in Illinois we need to discuss what is a hostile work environment in Illinois. There is no general harassment law in Illinois. What this means if that the boss can yell at you and scream at you and act like a jackass and there is nothing under the law that you can do about it. The boss just can't single you out or a group of people out based on their gender, or national origin or religious beliefs etc. So if things get so bad that you don't wish to work any longer because of the behavior you have to quit and you get no protection.

It is really important that you discuss what is going on with an employment lawyer because many times, the boss may be targeting you because you are female or for some other discriminatory reason. If the lawyer believes you are being discriminated against he can file a complaint on your behalf with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the claim and find either substantial evidence or lack thereof.

March 4, 2013

What Are Hostile Work Environments In Illinois?

The single biggest call my Chicago office gets is from employees who say I am in a hostile work environment at work and want to know what I can do about it. The short answer is unless the hostile work environment is caused by some discriminatory behavior, nothing. There is no general hostile work environment in Illinois. There is no bullying law in Illinois. There is no right to be in a workplace where the boss smiles at you or likes you or is nice to you. You only have protection from discrimination. So if the boss only yells at workers over the age of 40 and never the younger workers that might rise to the level of age discrimination.

However, there has to be more than just yelling. There would need to be some negative job action that is taking place as well. So if the boss is always yelling at the older workers and he refused to promote the older workers and only promotes the younger ones this would be ample evidence. A good experienced lawyer who concentrates on employment discrimination cases would be able to review the facts of your case and give you what steps if any you should take. There are very strict time limits involved in filing discrimination cases and you should not wait too long. It is very important that you contact an employment lawyer as soon as the discrimination begins so that steps can be taken to correct what is happening to you at work.

February 25, 2013

Sexual Comments At Work Creating A Hostile Work Environment

The downtown Chicago office was such a fun place to work and you thought you found your dream job. However, the boss keeps making sexual comments and they are no longer once a week. He now makes the sexual comments several times a day. And he is always looking at you funny when he makes the comments. For example he will look at your breasts when he makes a sexual comment about breasts. This is making you feel very uncomfortable at work. What can you do about it? Under the law, the repeated sexual comments could rise to the level of sexual harassment because they are creating a hostile work environment for you.

Under the law in Illinois, all employees are to be free from sexual comments and sexual harassment. Employee are at work to work, not to engage is this type of behavior. And if the boss is the one doing the sexual harassment there is strict liability on the company. This means you don't even have to report this activity to the company and can file directly with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is required to complete a thorough investigation within one-year. This puts pressure on the company to settle the case and it also allows you to have the problems addressed externally.

February 20, 2013

Chicago Employers Try These Sexual Harassment Defenses

So you are the victim of sexual harassment in Chicago and the company is now fighting back. It is sad that the company doesn't just admit that some inappropriate behavior took place and handle it. But many times they just won't. Instead of addressing the problem head on most companies in Chicago take the fight at all cost approach. And cost it usually does. Not only will they have to pay an attorney to fight the sexual harassment complaint but usually they will end up settling for an amount that is more than they could have paid to settle the case at the beginning. So what are some of the common defenses that companies in Chicago use? And of course the defense tactics usually create a hostile work environment for the employee if she is still employed.

First they usually try to claim the sexual harassment was not harassment but rather a consensual relationship. However their main problem is they usually don't have any proof of a consensual relationship. The try to paint the victim as the problem or part of the problem. They usually do this when there is proof of a supervisor texting inappropriate comments and they need a way to explain them away. Another common defense is that what took place didn't arise to the level of sexual harassment. This is usually not a strong defense but one that companies utilize anyway. And lastly I see some companies claim that the whole thing is just made up and the result of a disgruntled employee. Again if there are witnesses or text messages this type of defense is easily overcome.

February 14, 2013

Hostile Work Environments At College

So you are in Chicago attending college and your professor is starting to pay extra attention to you. He starts by asking personal questions and now he is sending you text messages. The messages are becoming sexual and you are very concerned. What should you do? Well if this is happening to you, it would be considered sexual harassment. You would have a claim against the college and the professor. You should save the text messages and any other evidence you have of the conduct by the professor. If this is happening to you it would create the equivalent of a hostile work environment. Even though this isn't a work environment, the principles are the same.

You should then contact an experienced employment lawyer. Most will take your case on contingency fee basis. Remember that even if you end up giving in to the demands of the professor, it would still be sexual harassment because of the control and position of power. You are paying money to attend college and learn--not to be preyed upon. My Chicago office handles many cases like these and colleges usually don't wish for the matters to become public. Make sure you protect yourself and seek legal advice.

January 23, 2013

Is Bullying A Hostile Work Environment in Illinois?

This is probably the single biggest question I get. I am being bullied at work and it is creating a hostile work environment. What if anything can I do about it? The short answer is not much. There is no general harassment law in Illinois that protects an employee from bullying. At one point the legislature was trying to pass a law that would have afforded some protection from bullying but that measure failed. So at this point if the boss yells at you or treats everyone at work like dirt there isn't anything you can do other than quit.

In order to have a hostile work environment there has to be some underlying discrimination. So for example if the boss just treats the women at work like crap, that could be gender discrimination. The same would be true if the boss singled out older workers, in which case there could be age discrimination. The most important thing you can do as an employee is to document what is taking place and discuss it with an employment worker. Remember the company will have well trained staff in their human resources department and will have the advice of an attorney--you should too.

January 19, 2013

Merrill Pine Ridge LLC Settles Sexual Harassment Case For $41,000

Merrill Pine Ridge LLC pays $41,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after initial settlement talks failed. According to facts which have become public, one of the cooks at New Pine Ridge restaurant, Shahi N. Selmani, created a sexually hostile work environment when he repeatedly made crude remarks to waitresses and grabbed their breasts. In Illinois this is considered sexual harassment. The problem for the company was the woman complained to the owner Qemal Alimi, but he did not stop Selmani's harassment and instead fired some of the waitresses in retaliation for their complaints. You can't fire or otherwise take a negative job action against an employee after they complain about sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination.

Selmani, the harass or or did not stop working for the restaurant until months after criminal charges were filed against him. Eventually he pled no contest to having committed Class A misdemeanor battery against three waitresses. Now why would a business owner want to allow such a person to continue to work after doing this type of activity at work? It boggles the mind and ended up costing the owner some money and some very bad publicity. If you are the victim of sexual harassment contact an employment lawyer at once. There are very strict time limits to filing a complaint so when it doubt make the call to a lawyer and preserve your employment rights.

"The Supreme Court has held that when an employer learns of sexual harassment, it must take immediate and effective action to stop it." said EEOC Attorney John C. Hendrickson
January 18, 2013

Chicago Hostile Work Environments

So what is considered a hostile work environment in Chicago? My offices gets many calls from people who complain that they are being subjected to a hostile work environment and they want to file a complaint. The problem is in Illinois there is no general hostile work environment claim. There is no bullying law ( although last year the legislature had a chance to pass one) and there is no law that says the boss has to be nice to you. The boss can yell at you and treat you like crap if he wishes. He just can't treat you different because you are a member of a protected class. So he can treat you bad just not discriminate against you based on your gender or age etc.

In most cases the hostile work environment in Chicago will be based on sexual harassment. The boss will be trying to get you to go out with him or have a sexual relationship. He pesters you at work and seems mad when you say no. In most cases things can get so bad that the person no longer wants to come into work. An employee should not have to worry about coming into work because the boss wants to have sex. And, usually the boss is marred. If this happens to you at work, protect yourself and contact an aggressive employment lawyer.

January 10, 2013

Sexual Harassment Via Text Messages

There is a growing trend in Chicago that more and more workers are becoming the victims of sexual harassment via text messages. The number of workers who communicate via text message has increased dramatically. In many companies bosses will send text messages to employees on work related matters. However, in what is becoming a too often occurrence, bosses seem to be sending inappropriate and sexual text messages to employees. This type of text message creates a hostile work environment and is considered sexual harassment in Illinois.

So what should you do if you are getting sexual text messages from your boss at work? Well save the text messages and contact a good employment lawyer would be a good set of steps. Don't let the boss get away with this type of activity. You have rights as an employee in Chicago and you don't have to put up with this type of behavior. And to make matters worse, many times if the employee doesn't play the game and text back, there could be negative job consequences.

January 4, 2013

What Is A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

So what makes up a hostile work environment in Chicago? Well in Illinois if you are the victim of sexual harassment it is based on two types of environment. One is called a quid quo pro--which mean this for that. So another words, if someone says give me sex in return for keeping you job. The second type is sexual harassment that creates a hostile work environment by either sexual comments, sexual pictures or the constant request for sex or dates. Depending on who is doing the harassment the company may have strict liability without being put on notice on what is taking place.

If a supervisor is doing the harassment there is strict liability on the company. If it is just a regular employee, the company must be put on notice before there is liability on the company. It is very important that you document what it taking place. This will include any emails you send to human resources and any emails or text messages you get from the person doing the sexual harassment.

January 2, 2013

Hostile Work Environments In Chicago

So you are busy at work in a big high rise building in downtown Chicago and everything is going well expect the boss won't leave you alone. He is always asking you to meet him after work for drinks as a friend or to have lunch with him. He doesn't do that to the men and he gives you the weird look like his is really into you. You know he wants a sexual relationship with you and you are concerned that if you keep rejecting his advances your career path will suffer. This is called sexual harassment in Illinois and more specifically it is a hostile work environment.

You do have options if this is happening to you. You could go and report it to human resources but then if things get bad what can you do? A better course of action is to hire an experienced sexual harassment attorney to let him chart the best course. I would file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the complaint and we could file against the company and individual boss. This will give more leverage for a settlement and the company will have to take the matter seriously. Remember that in Chicago you don't have to put up with this type of behavior from the boss. Protect yourself at work and call for a free consultation.

December 29, 2012

Sexual Harassment Cases At The Illinois Department Of Human Rights

So the boss at work has been asking you for sex or generally asking you out on dates. You know what he wants and you really just want a professional relationship with him. However you feel that ever since you turned him down on the date, he has been putting the screws to you. What if anything should you do? Well in Illinois what is happening to you is called sexual harassment. If the boss is doing the harassing there is strict liability on the company even if you don't report it. This type of activity will create a hostile work environment for you. So what should you do?

You should contact a good employment lawyer and file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the charge and if there is substantial evidence you will be allowed to file a lawsuit in state court or with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The important thing is to file with the IDHR and not just let the company know what is going on. The company may drag their feet and wait until the statute of limitations runs out before doing anything. Make sure you protect your rights.

December 26, 2012

Sexual Harassment At Christmas Parties

It never fails during holiday season. Companies will have a party that includes alcohol and someone will drink too much and engage in sexual harassment. Just because the sexual harassment takes place at a holiday function doesn't lesson the impact or liability. Companies are responsible for the action of employees at functions that are work related. If the person doing the sexual harassment is a member of management there is strict liability to the company in Illinois. Although no one wants to put a damper on holiday fun, the company should ensure that employees understand that holiday parties are not an excuse the engage in sexual harassment.

When an employee is sexually harassed at a party it creates a hostile work environment for her. You can imagine how horrible it would be to think you are going to a fun party and end up having your boss hitting on you and trying to engage in a sexual relationship. If this does happen to you at work, speak with an experienced employment lawyer at once and protect your rights. Don't let the company try to sweep the matter under the rug. You have employment rights in Illinois.

December 5, 2012

RockTenn Services Company Inc. Pays $500,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

RockTenn Services Company, Inc. pays $500,000 to 14 employees to settle a lawsuit based on a hostile work environment. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts a class of African-American employees were subjected to violent, racist graffiti, including "KKK," swastikas, Confederate flags, "white power" and other racist terms. This type of activity created a hostile work environment for the workers. It is hard to believe this type of behavior occurs at work anymore.

One employee who complained about these comments later discovered a noose at his work station. Company officials repeatedly ignored the complaints of racist graffiti even after it was reported to management on multiple occasions, including at monthly labor meetings.

"Racism in any form is bad enough, but racist graffiti that included Confederate flags and death wishes accompanied by vile racist epithets go far beyond the pale even of prejudice." said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark.
November 11, 2012

Hostile Work Environments Created By Sexual Harassment

My Chicago offices gets calls all the time about hostile work environments. People will say the boss is yelling at her and they think this is creating a hostile work environment. This may be true but under the legal definition there is nothing you can do about it unless it is attributed to discrimination. So if you are being yelled at because you are rejecting sexual harassment advances that would be a legal hostile work environment. The same would be true if the boss is singling you out because you are a female or because of your national origin.

What you should do if you find yourself in this position is to speak with an employment lawyer and discuss your case. What you should not do is to immediately quit or to do anything which can get yourself fired. Remember if you give the company a legitimate reason to fire you it will limit any damages you may have. Sexual harassment is very prevalent in the workforce and you have rights at work. Make sure you protect yourself and exercise your right to a harassment free workplace.

November 6, 2012

What Is A Hostile Work Environment In Illinois?

My Chicago office gets many calls from employees who feel they are working in a hostile work environment. However once they explain their circumstances to me, it becomes evident that they are not working in the legal definition of a hostile work environment. In Illinois there is no general harassment law and no general hostile work environment. In other words there has to be an underlying form of discrimination taking place that creates the hostile work environment. So for example if you are the victim of sexual harassment at work that may create a hostile work environment for you. Even if the person isn't trying to have sex with you but rather is just making sexual type comments.

And many times if a person complains about a hostile work environment, the company will take a negative job action against the employee and this is called retaliation. Retaliation is a separate form of discrimination and you would be able to file a complaint based on retaliation alone or you could combine it with your sexual harassment complaint. The important thing to remember is that there are strict time limits for filing your retaliation, sexual harassment or hostile work environment complaints. You should seek out an experienced employment lawyer once you believe you are being victimized at work.

October 24, 2012

What Is A Constructive Discharge In Chicago?

Well what constitutes a constructive discharge in Chicago will apply to the rest of the state of Illinois. A constructive discharge occurs when there is discriminatory conduct that gets to the point where a reasonable person would no longer want to be around it and essentially quits. And even though the person is quitting, under the law a constructive discharge is treated as a termination based on the hostile work environment the discrimination produced. So what can you do at this point? Well for starters file for unemployment benefits with the Illinois Department of Employment Security ("IDES"). You can file with the IDES online or in person.

You can also file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR)". For example if the discriminatory conduct was based on your sexual orientation and you quit because of it you can file with the IDHR based on sexual orientation and constructive discharge. The constructive discharge portion is where the real money will be because this is your lost wages. Keep in mind you have to subtract any unemployment benefits you receive from your lost wage amount. A good lawyer can explain all of this to you.

October 23, 2012

Is Pornography At Work A Hostile Work Environment?

So you are in downtown Chicago working away and the person next to you is on his computer watching porn. You really aren't trying to get into his business but you can't help seeing the computer screen because of how geographically close you two are. You find the porn disgusting and you ask him to stop watching it. What else can you do? Well if it is just a co-worker you must report the conduct to management. At that point if management does not stop the behavior, you can file a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR").

This type of conduct would create a hostile work environment for you and other workers. Now if the person watching the porn is a superivor than the company has strict liability and you don't have to report the conduct before filing your sexual harassment complaint with the IDHR. And don't worry about the person denying they are viewing porn. There are computer programs and computer log files that will allow an experienced employment lawyer to prove what is being viewed on a particular computer. The important point is that you act fast and don't wait too long.

October 19, 2012

Are Sexual Text Messages A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

You are working in downtown Chicago and you are getting sexual text messages from someone at work. Is this a hostile work environment in Chicago? This would create a hostile work environment and would also be sexual harassment. The important issue would be can you file a complaint or lawsuit based on this? It would depend on who is sending the text messages. If it is a boss or supervisor there is immediate and strict liability on the company. You could also file against the person individually. If a co-worker is sending the messages you have to report it to the company before they have liability.

The most important thing for you to do is to save the text messages. And make sure you are not engaging in this type of activity yourself. In order for there to be sexual harassment it must be an unwanted sexual advance or unwanted sexual activity. So if you are engaging in sending things yourself, this would limit the liability. If you have a human resource department you should document that you are letting them know what is going on. Remember, most companies try to take action against the person reporting the harassment so protect yourself.

October 13, 2012

Chicago Hostile Work Environments For Reporting Sexual Harassment

The co-worker keeps asking you out on dates and making sexual comments to you. The comments are about how hot he thinks your body is and what he would like to do to you. This conduct has gone on long enough and you report the sexual harassment to human resources. They really can't be bothered and at first they do nothing. You keep complaining and asking what they are going to do about it and they finally move you to a new location. What can you do about it? Well you can file a claim of sexual harassment and retaliation based on the hostile work environment that this created for you. You didn't do anything wrong and should not be the one getting moved.

Now there are a few points to make here. First, if human resources investigates that is one thing. If they do and find the co-worker did as you said they should move him not you. However if they investigate and he denies doing it and there is no other proof than the company is in a tough spot. So try and get some evidence of the sexual harassment before you complain to human resources. Remember you have the burden of proof. An experienced and aggressive employment lawyer can help you with this.

October 11, 2012

Watching Porn In A Chicago Office Could Be Sexual Harassment Of Co-Workers

So you are working in downtown Chicago and your boss is always watching porn in his company computer. He calls you into the office and you can see it. You mention a few times how it makes you feel uncomfortable but still he keeps watching it. What rights if any do you have? Well, this could be seen as sexual harassment in Chicago because it is creating a hostile work environment for you. A reasonable person would expect to be in a porn free work zone. And the fact that you told him it bothered you and he still didn't stop makes it even worse.

So what if anything can you do about it? Well I would suggest you contact a good employment lawyer and discuss the facts. Then you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is mandated by law to complete an investigation into the charge within one-year. THis puts pressure on the company to try and settle the case and also it keeps the case moving at a good pace. It is important that you have a number in mind for settling the case and the number is reasonable. The most important point is to file your complaint in a timely fashion.

October 1, 2012

Jury Awards $200,000 In Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit

A federal jury awarded $200,000 in punitive damages in response to a hostile work environment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The $200,000 was awarded to three employees who filed the initial complaint. The facts of this case are pretty wild and really hard to believe. According to published accounts the boss was racially harassing his African-American employees. The boss would use the N word and say that black employees were on welfare and other derogatory comments.

After several employees filed racial harassment charges with the EEOC, a noose was displayed at the AA Foundries workplace. I mean really, in this day and age people still act this way? In response to employee complaints about this noose, the superintendant described such reports as "BS" and stated the noose "was no big deal" and that "you people are too sensitive." Management at this company seems way out of touch with reality. I imagine that paying $200,000 is going to bring them back into reality.

"Whenever necessary,the EEOC will take cases into the courts across our nation to ensure the eradication of discriminatory workplace conduct. This is the latest in a number of successful cases the Commission has taken to trial this year." said EEOC attorney David Lopez
September 27, 2012

Genlyte Thomas Group LLC Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit FOr $30,000

Genlyte Thomas Group, LLC, pays $30,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of KeWanda Lawson. According to published accounts the company subjected Lawson to a hostile work environment because of the sexual harassment. Lawson was hired as a temporary employee and became a permanent warehouse lead within just a few months showing she was a good solid worker. Lawson was the only female in Philips's Dallas warehouse department which sometimes can be a problem.

Lawson experienced unwelcome and sexually vulgar comments, sexual advances and touches by the warehouse manager, Trent Bertrand, and other co-workers. She reported the conduct to management but nothing was done to prevent it from continuing. Lawson ended up quitting her job was is called a constructive discharge. If you are forced to quit your job because of sexual harassment it is treated as a firing for legal purposes.

"As the only female employee in the defendant's Dallas warehouse, Ms. Lawson was targeted for this crude and disturbing behavior by those with whom she worked." said EEOC Attorney Devika Seth
September 21, 2012

Delano Regional Medical Centers Pays $975,000 To Settle A Discrimination Lawsuit

Delano Regional Medical Center ("DRMC") pays $975,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of approximately 70 Filipino-American hospital workers. When you get this large a number of people involved in a settlement the numbers start to get big. The lawsuit was based on national origin and the discrimination occured in the highest levels of management.

According to published accounts Filipino-American hospital workers, mostly nursing staff, alleged that they were the targets of harassing comments, undue scrutiny and discipline particularly when speaking with a Filipino accent or in Filipino languages. Staff constantly made fun of their accents, ordering them to speak English even when they were already speaking in English. Some Filipino-American workers endured humiliating threats of arrest if they did not speak English and were told to go back to the Philippines.

This created a hostile work environment for the workers. To make matters worse, there was a meeting in which the chief executive officer and hospital management called only Filipino-American staff to a meeting and threatened them about the consequences of not complying with the hospital's English-only language policy. These crazy managers even threated to install surveillance equipment to monitor their conversations. Talk about some real odd ducks. These people sound like they need their head examined.

"Employees should never be targeted because of their national origin or language." said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez

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September 8, 2012

Do Sexual Jokes Create A Hostile Work Environment?

My Chicago office gets calls about employees who are getting sexual jokes via email or in person. One question I get often is does this create a hostile work environment in Illinois? Under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, if the conduct rises to a certain level it may be a hostile work environment. So what is the certain level? Well that is very fact specific and a review of your particular case would be required. Usually one or two comments or jokes are not going to rise to that level.

However, if the comments don't stop and interfere with your job, you could file a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). There are two types of sexual harassment complaints one based on quid quo pro and one based on the creation of a hostile work environment. This type would be the latter. The main point is that you need to have your facts reviewed and you need to do this in a timely fashion. If you wait too long your case will be lost. As an employee in Illinois you have certain rights that your employer can't take away from you.

September 3, 2012

Hostile Work Environments In Naperville Illinois

The work is demanding and you put in long hours but that isn't the problem. Your boss is constantly asking you personal questions and he calls you late at night. You know he wants a relationship with you-and he is married. Obviously he wants a sexual relationship with you. So what are your options? You are afraid if you report the conduct to human resources he will retaliate against you and you need the job. Do you have a claim or lawsuit? The short answer is yes you do. In Illinois this conduct would create a hostile work environment and would be the grounds for a sexual harassment complaint.

You would be able to file the sexual harassment complaint with either the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). If you file with the IDHR they will automatically cross-file with the EEOC so that is your best bet. This gives you multiple options. You will be able to file in state court, federal court or possibly proceed at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The important point is to get the best evidence of the sexual harassment and keep it. This would be text messages, voice messages, emails and if the conduct occurs in front of other employees their names. You could also send the employee an email after the conduct occurs and ask them to comment on what they just saw. Then print out the response and keep it in the safe place.

September 1, 2012

Is The Boss Sending You Sexual Jokes Via Email A Hostile Work Environment in Chicago?

So your boss keeps sending you emails which contain sexual jokes. Sometimes the emails are just jokes and sometimes they have pictures of women that are naked or semi-naked. Sometimes the pictures are women in sexual acts. So is this sexual harassment in Chicago? The short answer is yes. This type of activity would create a hostile work environment and you could file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). It would be very important that you save the emails. I would suggest printing them out and also forwarding them to your own personal email account so you can save the originals in electronic form.

This evidence is going to make or break your case. If you don't keep the emails you won't have a case for the most part unless the harassing person admits to sending the email to you. Additionally, if the boss or supervisor is sending the emails there is strict liability on the company. If it is just a co-worker you must report the conduct to the employer before the employer will have liability. An experienced employment lawyer can explain all of this to you.

August 31, 2012

Springfield Illinois Constructive Discharge Cases

I have two offices in the state of Illinois and my downstate office gets calls from the Springfield area asking to explain a constructive discharge. The Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") governs the rights of employees in Illinois relative to discrimination. Under the Act, an employee cannot be subjected to discrimination. A constructive discharge occurs when an employee is subjected to discrimination in the workplace and the hostile work environment it creates is such that a reasonable person would not longer tolerate it and quits. For the purpose of a lawsuit it is treated as a termination. I recommend if this happens you immediately file with the Illinois Department of Employment Security ("IDES") for unemployment benefits.

So what remedies are available if you quit and call it a constructive discharge? First you would file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). If you are successful with the IDHR, your case will move to the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") or you can elect to take your case to the local circuit court. An experienced employment lawyer can explain which would be best in your particular case. There are a number of factors involved in deciding where to file. The most important point is that you save as much evidence as possible of the discrimination. Text messages, voice mails, and emails are usually the best form of evidence. In some cases, other employees can be witnesses but remember they may not wish to get involved for fear of losing their job.

August 27, 2012

Is The Boss Yelling At You A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago

My Chicago office gets more calls about this than anything. The employee is hard at work and the boss is constantly yelling at her. It gets to the point where the employee is shaking and can't focus. The employee calls my Chicago office and thinks they are in a hostile work environment and they want to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). So the question is can they file with the IDHR based on the yelling by the boss? The short answer is no. There is no general law in Illinois that covers yelling. At one time there was an attempt by the state legislature to pass a bullying law but that effort failed.

In order to have a hostile work environment in Illinois there needs to be some underlying discrmiination. So for example if the boss is nice to all the men and just yells at women, then perhaps there is a gender discrimination case and the conduct by the boss creates a hostile work environment for just women. These types of issues are fact based and a consultation is usuallly required to determine if there is a discrimination case. The important point to remember is you would first have to bring this to the attention of human resources and let them know you believe as a female you are being singled out. A good employment lawyer can answer your questions and evaluate your potential case.

August 19, 2012

Chicago Hostile Work Environments

So you are working hard and going to college at night and things seem to be going well. But your boss at work is getting more friendly and asking more about your personal life. You are a little concerned but don't mention it to anyone. Now things are escalating and the boss is asking you out on a date and sending sexual text messages to you. This is considered sexual harassment in Chicago. This type of sexual harassment is also creating a hostile work environment for not only you but other employees. So what should you do? Well things won't improve if you don't take some action. Here is what I propose you do.

First, contact a good employment lawyer and discuss the situation. I would save and bring as many of the text messages as you have. This will provide the evidence you will need to prove your case. It is important to point out that even if you don't have the text messages we can use other techniques to try and prove a sexual harassment case. Remember the boss isn't going to admit to harassing you. He is going to try and spin things in his favor for obvious reasons. This is why you need an experienced employment lawyer to help guide you through this.

August 15, 2012

Chicago Constructive Discharge Case Information

This short article is about constructive discharge cases in Chicago and will also apply to the entire state of Illinois. So what is a constructive discharge? Well under the law, a constructive discharge is treated the same as a termination of employment. The only difference is the employee quit and in affect discharges herself. Now in order to qualify your quitting as a constructive discharge, several things have to take place. First you have to have some sort of discrimination directed at you while at work. So for example if your boss is engaging in sexual harassment and hounding you for sex that would be discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act").

If the discrimination gets so bad that no reasonable person would continue working under that type of situation than quitting would be appropriate. This is usually referred to as a hostile work environment. In that case, the quitting could be called a constructive discharge. It is important to point out that the conduct has to be of a level that no reasonable person would remain employed. Generally, the employee would need to report the sexual harassment to human resources before quitting. Of course each case is different and a special determination would be made on the specific facts of each case. If you quit your job because of discrimination you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and claim a constructive discharge.

August 13, 2012

Is A Boss Texting Sexual Messages A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

So my Chicago offices seems to be getting more and more calls from people who are getting sexual text messages from their boss. One of the first questions they ask me is what can they do? Well, in Illinois there is strict liability on the company if the boss is sending you sexy text messages because that would constitute sexual harassment. In Chicago this seems to be occurring at a high rate. Usually the boss is also trying to engage in a sexual relationship with the employee as well. An important point is for you to save the text messages and emails. Even if you delete the the text messages there is special software available that will allow my office to retrieve the deleted text messages.

What also happens is this conduct creates a hostile work environment for the employee and perhaps other employees. As you can imagine the poor person has to go into work every day and work with the same boss that is sending inappropriate text messages and is trying to put the moves of her. And of course the employee will feel like her job is on the line if she isn't at least nice to the boss even though she probably wants to hit him. The most important thing you can do is hire a good employment lawyer and file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and have it cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This keeps both your state and federal options open.

Continue reading "Is A Boss Texting Sexual Messages A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?" »

August 11, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Cases Involving Retaliation

The city of Chicago can be a beautiful place and also for some at work a place of horror. There seems to be an increasing number of bosses that believe they can prey upon their employees and engage in conduct which amounts to sexual harassment. As if were not bad enough, the bosses then engage in retaliation if the employee doesn't have sex or reports the behavior. This of course creates a hostile work environment for not only the employee being harassed but also other employees. Can you imagine what kind of signal this sends to the other employees? Have sex with me or you are going to get fired.

So what can you do when this happens to you in Chicago? The good news is you have multiple options. I prefer to file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") for two reasons. First they cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). And second, they are mandated by law to complete an investigation within one-year. This provides leverage because the other side will have to file a verified response and therefore their position will be locked in.

And don't forget that the retaliation claim is separate from the sexual harassment claim so you have multiple options regarding that claim. The important factor in all of this is your evidence. It is very important that you keep all emails and text messages. These are generally what will be utilized to prove your case. Even if you don't have them, phone logs to be utilized to show a pattern of conduct that indicates sexual harassment. For example if the boss is calling you late at night and on weekends and he isn't calling anyone else during those times. And lastly, make sure you call an good aggressive employment attorney because you can bet the other side will have an attorney protecting their rights.

August 4, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Facts

My Chicago office gets many calls and inquiries from people who have similar questions. They usually are working hard for a company and the boss is engaging in conduct that is not appropriate. The boss may be sending sexual jokes via email or making sexual comments. This by itself would be sexual harassment in Illinois because it is creating a hostile work environment. But usually the bosses that do this in Chicago do a great deal more. They usually are also trying to have a sexual relationship with the worker and they utilize their position of power to accomplish this. Remember the boss has the authority to hire and fire so they wield a great deal of power.

So what can the average worker do when this occurs? First, save all text messages and emails. This will be your best form of evidence. Second, complain to human resources if possible. I realize in most cases you can't do this because there may not be a human resources or you are afraid you will be fired by the boss. In Illinois there is strict liability on the company and individual if the person is your boss. It is all to common to find bosses in Chicago thinking they can have sexual relations with employees just because they are in a position of power. You have rights and should seek out a good employment lawyer to protect your rights.

August 2, 2012

Automotive Group Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $50,000

“Dealin’ Doug” Moreland Automotive Group pays $50,000 to settle a retaliation and sexual harassment lawsuit. This was a little different type of sexual harassment case. According to published accounts the company fired a former employee in retaliation for her participation in a prior Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") sexual harassment lawsuit. Not only does the person who is being sexually harassed have legal protections, but also any employees who cooperate with the investigation.

In this case the worker was a long time employee named Lucille Fancher who complained to manage­ment about a sexually hostile work environment and was a participant entitled to a portion of the settlement in the prior sexual harassment lawsuit. However the company decided to tell her that if she took her portion of the settlement money she would be terminated and in fact terminated her. This is a violation of Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964. The company ended up paying more money to her and should have just left the woman alone.

“If companies are allowed to retaliate against employees just because they report harassment or offer testimony, or participate in the settlement of an employment discrimination claim, then we cannot expect people to speak out against injustice,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.
August 1, 2012

Hostile Work Environments In Chicago

This question comes into my Chicago office all the time. You are working in an office in downtown Chicago and the office is run like a fraternity house. People are looking at porn, and always telling sexual jokes. To make matters worse, the bosses are always trying to ask employees out and have sex with them. Do you have legal protection under the law? Yes you do. This type of office would create a hostile work environment for all employees working in it. There would also be a sexual harassment claim because of the sexual talk, porn and the bosses asking employees out on dates and trying to have sex with them.

So what should you do about it? Contact a veteran employment lawyer and file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will cross-file with its federal counterpart the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This allows you to keep both state and federal options open. It is my experience that if there is a large company involved the federal option will be best. The reason is there are larger statutory amounts that are available and if there are over 500 employees you can seek $300,000 in statutory damages. This will put more pressure on the company. The most important thing is to protect yourself and speak with a Chicago employment lawyer.

July 31, 2012

Huntington Ingalls, Inc. Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $80,000

Huntington Ingalls, Inc. pays $80,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, the company fired Walter Strickland and Brian Glover after they provided written statements about another employee who was engaging in discriminatory conduct. Another words, they were being good employees and just speaking the truth.

When there is a hostile work environment at work and employees try to rectify the problem by reporting the conduct to management they are protected. In this case that is exactly what took place. These two employees were just doing what they were suppose to do. The company tried to silence those that came forward, which is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the end the company probably lost two good employees and had to pay a good amount of money.

“An employee’s ability to report conduct believed to be discriminatory without fear of reprisal is fundamental to creating workplaces free of discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
July 23, 2012

Endoscopic Microsurgery Associates Pays $350,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Endoscopic Microsurgery Associates pays $350,000 in compensatory and punitive damages to three former employees who were subjected to sexual harassment by the chief executive officer and the chief financial officer. Whow can you believe people in this high a position were doing this to employees? Well apparently they were. The sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). These types of large amounts are rare but seem to be occuring more often. These types of cases also takes years before they get to trial.

According to published accounts receptionist Linda Luz was repeatedly subjected to unwanted sexual advances and a sexually hostile work environment by CEO Dr. Mark Noar and CFO Martin Virga. I bet these two are looking for new jobs. It always amazes me that people this high up can act so stupid. After Luz repeatedly rejected the advances, the company began retaliating against her by issuing to her unwarranted discipline and rescinding approved leave, which eventually culminated in her retaliatory termination. This also happened to two other women who worked for the company. Study coordinator Jacqueline Huskins similarly experienced unwanted sexual advances from Noar and Virga, as did nurse Kimberly Hutchinson.

“This verdict is significant because it reminds high-level officials who function as the employer that their high level does not give them license to abuse women – they must treat employees as professionals,” said EEOC attorney Debra Lawrence.
July 19, 2012

McDonalds Franchisee Pays $1,000,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Missoula Mac, Inc., the owner and franchisee of 25 McDonald’s restaurants pays $1,000,000 to settle a class sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of females workers. According to published accounts male employees created a hostile work environment of sexual harassment against female co-workers, some of whom were teenagers. Whow it is really bad when they start to engage in sexual harassment against teenagers. And to make matters worse the company engaged in retaliation against those who complained about sexual harassment.

To show you how long these cases can take this case started in 2006. During that time everal male employees subjected female co-workers to sexual harassment. The sexual harassment included comments, kissing, touching of their private areas, and forcing their hands onto the men’s private parts. I guess they were making more than happy meals at this restaurant. The company did nothint to stop the harassment and forced at least one employee to quit--which is referred to as a constructive discharge. You can see how much money sexual harassment cases can cost if you try and sweep them under the rug.

“This is a sad case, demonstrating again that sexual harassment is still a challenge for women at some of our most successful, best known brands.” said EEOC attorney John P. Rowe
July 17, 2012

Is A Boss Texting You Sexual Messages A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

So you are working hard as a secretary and your boss starts sending you sexual text messages on your cell phone. What should you do and is this illegal in Illinois? Well the short answer is you should contact a good employment lawyer who can protect your rights. And this this would create a hostile work environment for you and would subject you to sexual harassment in Chicago and throughout Illinois. It is very important that you realize if the boss is doing the sexual harassment there is strict liability attached to the company. Another words the company is 100% liable for the sexual harassment.

It is very important that you save the text messages and make sure your attorney gets them. This will become the proof of the sexual harassment. If you don't save the messages they may still be retrieved using special software however there is a chance the messages won't be able to be retrieved. Another words, without the messages you won't have a case because the boss probably will not admit to sending them. This is why you need to speak with an experienced employment law attorney at once. My Chicago offices handles cases like this all the time.

July 3, 2012

Holiday Inn Express Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $90,000

Holiday Inn Express pays $90,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after initial settlement talks broke down. According to published accounts, the hotel subjected several female employees to a sexually hostile work environment at the hotel. Additionally, one female employee was fired after complaining about the sexual harassment--this is called retaliation.

The three females subjected to sexual harassment were Tamara Byrd, Pamela Kral, and Billie Jones. Over a period of almost two years the hotel’s male general manager subjected the women to sexual comments and sexual advances. As if this were not bad enough he also touched the women in a sexual nature. The company did not take any of the complaints seriously and did nothing to stop the sexual harassment. This type of activity and behavior by the company is regrettable and will always result in liability. The company should have taken immediate action.

"Sexual harassment in the workplace will simply not be tolerated,” “An employer is obligated to maintain a workplace free of harassment.”said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
June 29, 2012

Oasis One Dry Cleaners Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $43,000

Oasis One Dry Cleaners pays $43,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. According to published accounts the former female employee who was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Usually in cases such as this, the EEOC will attempt to resolve the case prior to filing a lawsuit. It is usually in the best interest of the company to settle prior to having he lawsuit filed. There are many reasons for this including the fact that a public record of the case would not be available if the parties settled prior to the filing of a lawsuit in federal court.

Allegedly the female employee at Oasis Dry Cleaners routinely experienced sexual harassment from its general manager who solicited sexual favors from her. In fact he often approached her speaking in a suggestive manner and placing his hands on her body. This type of activity is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


“I think this case is a great example of how the Commission remains diligent in its enforcement efforts to root out sexual harassment in the workplace.” said EEOC attorney Janet Elizondo

June 27, 2012

Something Fishy At The Fresh Market--Sexual Harassment Case Settles For $95,000

Well there is really something fishy going on at the Country Fresh Market, LLC. According to published documents, the Market settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $95,000. That's a lot of tomatoes. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female worker. The employee apparently worked in the meat department and was sexually harassed by the department manager.

The sexual harassment included physical touching,sexual comments and repeated sexual advances. This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and is illegal. The really bad thing is the company failed to stop the harassment and threatened employees with getting fired is they kept complaining. This happens a great deal of the time in sexual harassment cases. The company tries to circle the wagons and not let the truth come out. And the company tries to punish people who complain or come forward. Hopefully after paying this large amount of money and after being humiliated in public, the company will change their behavior.

“Employers must make sure that company officials, managers and supervisors take swift action to stop workplace harassment.” said EEOC Attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
June 26, 2012

Oasis One Dry Cleaners Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $43,000

Two Lac, Inc. d/b/a Oasis One Dry Cleaners pays $43,000 and to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. According to published accounts the company subjected a female employee to a sexually hostile work environment. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the woman. Usually what happens is the EEOC would ask the company if it wants to negotiate a settlement prior to filing the lawsuit. In this case the company waited until the EEOC filed a lawsuit in federal court. That was a foolish move in my opinion.

Allegedly the female employee routinely experienced sexual harassment from her general manager who solicited sexual favors from her. This type of sexual harassment attaches strict liability on the company because it is from a manager. This manager also touched this female employee which is illegal. It seems that a great many people in supervisory positions believe they can do anything they want to employees. This not only hurts the employees but also the company. Just think how negatively this affects morale.

“Employees have a legal right to go to work every day without the anxiety of being subjected to harassment related to their gender.” said EEOC Attorney David Rivela
June 22, 2012

Bakery Settles Discrimination Case for $20,000

Savory Fare Bakery and Café pays $20,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Laura Mitchell. According to published accounts of the lawsuit, Mitchell had a speech and hearing impediment and the company denied her job training or a promotion because of this. You may not treat a person different just because they have a disability.

The actions of the bakery violated Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). This poor woman was a dishwasher and wanted to be promoted to cashier after working hard for the company. Instead of promoting her, she was forced to quit when the work environment became unbearable. Forcing someone to quit is called a constructive discharge. By not allowing her to train and then get promoted to the new position the company also created a hostile work environment for Mitchell.

“Employers must make employment decisions based upon the abilities of their applicants and employees, not based on myths, fears or stereotypes about a person’s disability." said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O'Neill
June 17, 2012

Hobson Air Conditioning Pays $37,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Hobson Air Conditioning Settles a sexual harassment lawsuit for $37,500. According to published accounts the only female employee Misty Kratky was subjected to frequently made sexual propositions by her manager. The manager allegedly asked her to show him her breasts and touched her inappropriately. This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and resulted in the filing of a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

After the sexual harassment began, she complained to management but nothing was done to stop it. The company should have taken the complaint in a more serious fashion and stopped the harassment. As a result, the company will now have this negative publicity and has paid a considerable amount of money. My Chicago offices sees more and more cases of employers who refuse to stop sexual harassment and as a result have complaints filed against them. The proper training and education of employees can go a long way toward stamping out sexual harassment complaints.

June 3, 2012

What Is A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

My Chicago offices gets many calls regarding what people believe is a hostile work environment in Chicago. I spend a great deal of time explaining what the legal definition is. There is no general harassment law in Illinois. Therefore in order for there to be a hostile work environment, there must be some underlying claim of discrimination. So for example, if you are being sexually harassed by your boss at work, that could create a hostile work environment. The reason is sexual harassment would make you feel uneasy and would make coming to work and working difficult. The main point is that there is an underlying type of discrimination, and therefore the creation of the hostile work environment.

If you are the victim of discrimination in Chicago you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). If you do file with the IDHR, an employment lawyer can help walk you through the process and help you put your best case forward. Remember, if there is no underlying claim of discrimination, there can't be a hostile work environment in Chicago.

May 9, 2012

$50,000 Settlement By Four Points Sheraton Hotel In Discrimination Lawsuit

Four Points by Sheraton hotel pays $50,000 to settle a national origin discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of employee Basil Massih. According to published accounts, the company subjected Massish to a hostile work environment because of his Iraqi national origin. In fact the harassment got so bad that he had to resign his position which is also known as a constructive discharge.

The alleged harassment included mimicking Massih’s accent and mocking Arab vocal expressions. I know this sounds like such childish behavior but who would want to come into work each day and put up with this. To make matters worse he had to endure ethnic slurs such as “camel jockey”; and taunting and jeering at Massih relating to news stories about Iraq and the capture of terrorists. Massih complained to management but nothing was done to stop the harassment. I bet they take this type of behavior more serious now

“Employers have an affirmative duty to protect employees from discrimination and national origin harassment.” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O’Neill
April 27, 2012

Peninsula College Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $55,000

Peninsula College settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $55,000. The lawsuit was filed by former student Bethel Prescott. According to her published documents Prescott alleged that her work study supervisor and chemistry professor, the late Paul Woodson, repeatedly sexually harassed and defamed her. In the lawsuit, Prescott said she needed to take a sequence of chemistry courses that Woodson taught and that her work study was supervised by Woodson. In short Prescott needed to be around Woodson and she had to endure his sexual comments and behavior.

The lawsuit alleged Woodson misused his position of power and authority to make inappropriate sexual and derogatory comments, engage in explicit inappropriate behavior and generally create a hostile work environment against her. Prescott also claimed that the management of the college allowed a hostile work environment to exist. This type of activity will end up costing a college or employer money every time. My Chicago office sees a great deal of sexual harassment in the college setting. Don't let college professors pressure you to have sex.

April 19, 2012

Burger King Franchise Pays A Whopper To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Kaizen Restaurants, Inc., which operates dozens of Burger King restaurants pays $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of a teenage worker. According to published accounts the teenager got her first job at Burger King and the supervisor began to sexually harass her. The older, married supervisor made unwelcome sexual comments and touched the female teenager. This guy sounds like a real piece of work and I can't believe the company hired such a man.

To make matters worse the supervisor would discuss her virginity, and demand that she have sex with him. You wonder if this manager was actually doing any work while at work. When she rejected his advances he ordered her not to tell management about his behavior. She reported this crazy conduct to management and they refused to intervene and stop it. The supervisor then began to follow her around the store and into the parking lot on breaks. She finally quit because of this hostile work environment. When an employee quits because of discriminatory conduct it is called a constructive discharge. You can see how much money this Burger King franchise had to pay because of the horrible actions of a supervisor. In Illinois there is strict liability on the company if the supervisor engages in sexual harassment.

“What I had to face at work every day was humiliating and wrong,” said the worker, who was 17 years old when she started working there.


April 12, 2012

Are Sexual Comments Enough For Sexual Harassment Complaint In Chicago?

My Chicago offices gets daily calls from people who complain about what they believe are discrimination claims. Many such claims involve a person at work making sexual comments. The question then becomes is an employee or the boss keeps making sexual comments at work is that sexual harassment in Chicago? The short answer is yes. There are two types of sexual harassment. The first is quid quo pro, where the harasser is trying to save sex with you in return for some favor. The second type is called a hostile work environment. Sexual comments would fall into the category of a hostile work environment.

So what do you do if the boss is making these sexual comments on a daily basis? You should contact an employment lawyer and also report this conduct to human resources. Now be aware that human resources may do nothing and the boss may end up engaging in retaliation against you for reporting him. This is why you need to also contact an employment lawyer to ensure your rights are protected. Don't let people get away with making nasty, sexual remarks at work. You have a right to enjoy a hostile free workplace in Illinois.

April 9, 2012

Tactics Chicago Human Resource Departments Use in Sexual Harassment Cases

So you are working hard at your workplace in the loop in Chicago and the boss starts to engage in sexual harassment. First it is comments about how sexy you look, then it is invitations to lunch and events after work. He is even texting you late at night and the text messages seem inappropriate. You go into work and tell human resources about it. What should you expect from human resources? Well they should do an investigation into the allegations. And they shouldn't engage in retaliation against you for reporting the sexual harassment. The problem is, that isn't always the case. Many times human resources circles the wagons and blames the victim. I am not sure what the reasoning is for this but believe it is an attempt to deflect potential blame from the management of the company--which would include human resources.

In reality here is what my Chicago offices sees often in sexual harassment complaints. The human resource department claims they will investigate and tells the victim to go back to work. The victim of harassment then starts getting negative job actions and a hostile work environment at work. I see the human resource department drag out their investigation for long periods of time. They may claim that key people are unavailable or they are waiting on telephone records. What they are really doing is allowing more than 180 days to expire so you can't file a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). So be very careful after you make a sexual harassment complaint at work.. Consult with an experienced sexual harassment attorney so you know your rights and don't fall victim to the tactis of the human resource departments.

March 28, 2012

Chicago Area Employers Engaging In Sexual Harassment

Chicago area employers seem to be engaging in sexual harassment through their employees. My Chicago office is seeing a rise in the number of sexual harassment complaints. These complaints will be filed at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). After filing at the IDHR, if there is a finding of substantial evidence, the case can proceed in the local circuit court or at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). Most sexual harassment cases involve the creation of a hostile work environment. The hostile work environment can be caused by sexual comments or viewing sexual material on the computer.

It is very important that as an employee you realize your rights under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). Under the Act you are protected at work from sexual comments and requests for sex among other things. If you are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace you have many remedies available to you and an experienced employment lawyer can help you decide the best course of action. Remember that very strict time limits apply to sexual harassment cases so act fast and don't procrastinate.

March 20, 2012

What Is A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

My Chicago offices gets calls from employees all the time with the following question. What is considered a hostile work environment in Chicago? The answer usually surprises people. There must be a form of discrimination creating the hostile work environment. There is no general hostile work environment in Illinois. There must be something discriminatory like sexual harassment that then creates an environment that is hostile. So if your boss is constantly making crude sexual comments, that would be a form of sexual harassment called hostile work environment.

On the other hand if the boss if just a jerk and he makes stupid non-sexual comments, it would not meet the legal definition of a hostile work environment. The important thing is for you to speak with an experienced and aggressive employment lawyer so a determination can be made as to your case. These types of employment cases are tricky and fact specific. Remember also that there are strict time limits that apply and you should not procrastinate. Act fast and protect your employment rights.

March 9, 2012

If The Boss Is Sleeping With A Co-Worker Is That Sexual Harassment In Chicago?

So what happens if you are at work and the boss is sleeping with a co-worker? Is that sexual harassment in Chicago? The answer is probably. Here is the problem. If the boss is having sex with a co-worker who he is supervising, how can he truly be fair and unbiased in supervising you? This puts strain and pressure on the work relationship and makes it untenable for many workers. So you don't have to be the one having sex with the boss to be in a hostile work environment that is being created by the sexual relationship your boss is having with a co-worker.

In Chicago if you are the victim of sexual harassment we can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR must complete an investigation within one-year. It is very important that you save emails, text messages and voice mails that may help your case. There are many ways to prove sexual harassment and there are an equal number of defenses. A skilled employment attorney can navigate the IDHR and help your case get a finding of substantial evidence.

March 3, 2012

Client Interview With The Illinois Department Of Human Rights

So you were the victim of sexual harassment at work and you filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). What are the next steps to proving the sexual harassment created a hostile work environment for you? You get a call from the investigator from the IDHR and he wants to schedule a client interview. What is this and what should you do to prepare for it? In Chicago the client interview will generally be held at the IDHR office on Randolph. For those downstate the client interview is held by telephone. Of course in person interviews can always be arranged by it is usually more convenient to do it but telephone.

The client interview is your chance to tell the investigator the details of your sexual harassment claim. You will also be given a chance to provide the names of witnesses, and to tell what documents you believe exist so the investigator can ask the company for them. The best way to be successful at the client interview is to properly prepare for it. Review your complaint including the dates you claim the discrimination took place. Try and remember who may have witnessed it. If you have an employment attorney it would be helpful to review all of this with him prior to the client interview so your interview goes smoothly. Remember this is the first impression of you in the IDHR investigators eyes, so make it a good one.

February 24, 2012

Do Sexual Text Messages Create A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

What happens in Chicago when your boss sends you sexual text messages? Do you have any rights and remedies? The short answer is yes Sexual text messages from your boss will create a hostile work environment not only for you but potentially for other workers as well. The sexual text messages would rise to the level of sexual harassment in Chicago and you would be able to file a discrimination complaint at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is mandated by law to investigate your sexual harassment complaint within one-year. These investigations can be tricky and usually require an employment attorney who can navigate your case through the system.

There are two types of sexual harassment in Chicago, one is called hostile work environment and the other is called quid quo pro. The latter is latin for this-for-that and refers to the boss attempting to give you something for getting sex from you. The hostile work environment type refers to sexual comments, touching, groping etc. In that type of sexual harassment the boss is not necessarily trying to have sex with you but instead trying to just make you feel uncomfortable. Now there are times when both types of sexual harassment take place.

February 23, 2012

Chicago Area Jimmy's Charhouse Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $200,000

Jimmy’s Charhouse of Elgin pays $200,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of eight female employees. According to court documents, some of the female waitresses and hostesses were sexually harassed by members of management. Some of the details of the sexual harassment included crude sexual comments and groping. There was even attempts to engage in sex.

One of the alleged victims claimed that she was terminated after refusing the sexual advances of her manager which is called retaliation. It is illegal to take a negative job action against an employee because the employee refuses to engage in discriminatory conduct or if the employee opposes discriminatory conduct. Under the terms of the decree, which is part of the settlement, Jimmy’s Charhouse is also enjoined from further subjecting any employee to a hostile work environment or retaliating against any employee who opposes discrimination.

“Too often we hear about rampant sexual harassment of restaurant employees, where waitresses appear to be fair game,” said EEOC attorney John Hendrickson “We want the message to get out: Sexual harassment is illegal, whether it’s in the boardroom or at your neighborhood restaurant.”


February 14, 2012

What Makes A Hostile Work Environment At Work In Chicago

When you are at work what creates a hostile work environment in Chicago? If you are the victim of sexual harassment a hostile work environment will be created not just for you but for other employees too. Other employees who can hear and see the harassment are being subjected to the hostile work environment not just you. Additionally, anyone who acts as a witness during an investigation and is subjected to any type of negative action is not only in a hostile work environment but also has a claim of retaliation. When this happens there are a few things to keep in mind. First document everything that is taking place. Include the names of people who may have witnessed the harassment and the dates and times it took place. Second, gather any written evidence like emails, text messages and written messages. Lastly, file a written report about the sexual harassment to human resources.

The next step would be to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is responsible for investigating the complaint and determining whether there is substantial evidence to take the charge to the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial. Companies are getting more aggressive and are not respecting the legal employment rights of employees. It is very important that you have someone on your side that knows employment law and fights hard for you. Don't be the victim of a hostile work environment in Chicago.

February 7, 2012

Sangria' Mexican Cafe Must Pay $51,700 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A federal jury awarded $51,700 in back pay, compensatory and punitive damages to four family members who were fired for resisting sexual harassment at Sangria's Mexican Cafe. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of waitress Lauren Goldston. According to published accounts Goldston opposed sexual harassment and complained about unwelcome sexual advances, remarks, and inappropriate touching by a male cook at the restaurant.

To make matters worse, Goldston’s mother, Sara, aunt, Francesca, and uncle, Max, also worked at Sangria’s. Once they found out what was going on they reported the sexual harassment to Sangria’s’ owner. However nothing was done by the owner to stop the sexual harassment. In fact the sexual harassment created a hostile work environment for all those who were involved. Sangria’s terminated all of the Goldstons in retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment.

“This verdict is significant because it indicates to employers that, regardless of their size, they must afford their employees the statutorily protected right to oppose unlawful discrimination without the fear of retaliation,” said EEOC attorney Bernice Williams Kimbrough.

Continue reading "Sangria' Mexican Cafe Must Pay $51,700 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit" »

February 4, 2012

Is A Co-Worker Looking At Porn On His Work Computer Sexual Harassment If I See His Computer

What happens if an employee can see his co-worker surfing the Internet and viewing porn? Is this considered sexual harassment? Well the short answer is yes. It would be the creation of a hostile work environment for you and the other employees who have to witness this. Now if the person has control over you like a supervisor or manager the company will have strict liability. If the person does not have control over you, the company only has liability if you report it and the company does not stop the conduct. So the first step would be for you to report this conduct to human resources. I recommend doing this in writing so you have a record of it.

The next step is to monitor what happens next. If the company intervenes and stops the employee from surfing the Internet for porn, the issue is resolved (In a reputable company the employee would be fired). If the company does nothing you need to protect your rights and file a complaint through an employment attorney with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). In Chicago especially it is important to get representation because the other side will have an attorney and it would put you at a big disadvantage if you go it alone.

January 30, 2012

Sexual Harassment Via Text Messages

Because technology is spreading so quickly and most people own cell phones with text messaging capabilities, this medium is also being used to engage in sexual harassment. Most people don't just work from 9-5 anymore. They are available to answer questions while they are driving to and from work and at home. For this reason, many times supervisors have the cell phone numbers of their employees. This can lead to a problem for the company and supervisor. My Chicago office is seeing a big rise in the number of sexual harassment cases that involve the use of text messages. This is good news for employees who are being harassed at work because they will have a clear and accurate evidence trail.

This text message trail is very important when you file a case with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). During the investigation with the IDHR, evidence such as text messages can be utilized to show without question that you were the victim of sexual harassment and strict liability attaches. And don't forget that when one person at work in being sexually harassed it could create a hostile work environment for everyone. It is very important to speak with an employment lawyer and protect your rights. The company will pay large amounts of money to protect its' rights and assets.

January 27, 2012

Is It A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago If Your Supervisor Comments On Your Body?

What happens when you come into work every day and your boss says you look hot or that sweater makes your chest really stand out? Are these types of remarks appropriate? Is there anything you can do about it? What does the law in Illinois saw about this? Of course this will be a case-by-case basis but generally if your boss is constantly making you feel uncomfortable by his comments about your looks, you may be the victim of sexual harassment by the creation of a hostile work environment. In Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois you can file a claim of discrimination at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). However, you are better off speaking with an experienced employment lawyer and letting him file the charge for you.

My Chicago office gets many calls about employees who are tired of the remarks their boss makes about their looks. Employees are entitled to a certain degree of respect in the workplace and are protected from constant remarks which make them feel disrespected and humiliated. It is very important to speak with an employment lawyer early in the process to ensure your rights are protected and valuable evidence isn't lost. Remember the company is not going to protect your rights, only you and your attorney can do that.

January 18, 2012

Rafael's Italian Restaurant Pays $25,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Rafael’s Italian Restaurant will pay $25,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of various female workers. Some of the females were actually teenagers which makes this even more horrific. According to published accounts the sexual harassment was going on for years and management did not stop it. The harassment included crude comments of a sexual nature directed at the females. If that weren't bad enough there were even requests for sex.

In an even more troubling allegation some of the male workers even used vegetables to simulate sodomy and to hit the victims between their legs. It is hard to believe this type of behavior went on without management intervening on behalf of the female workers. Can you imagine sending your daughter to work in a hostile work environment like this? As a result of this settlement the company will have to undergo sexual harassment training and draft a written policy on sexual harassment for all employees to see. I hope there are changes to management and this doesn't happen in the future.

“Allowing serial harassers to victimize female employees without facing consequences is a clear violation of federal law,” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams.
January 16, 2012

What Is A Constructive Discharge In Chicago?

What happens in Chicago if you boss is making your life so miserable that you can no longer work? Well if there is an underlying complaint of discrimination you will have a claim for a constructive discharge. Constructive discharge in Illinois means that if you are being discriminated against and it creates a hostile work environment that a reasonable person would not tolerate you can quit and it is treated legally as a termination. However, if there is no underlying complaint of discrimination you have a problem. In Chicago and throughout Illinois there is no general harassment law. This means if the boss is just a jerk you get no protection.

So what happens next if you quit your job? Well I would do two things. First I would file a claim with the Illinois Department of Employment Security and second I would file a multiple count claim with the Illinois Department of Human RIghts ("IDHR"). The claim would be for the underlying discrimination and for constructive discharge. Remember that the more legitimate claims you have the better off you are. Chicago is seeing a rise in the number of constructive discharge claims and filing quickly is the best thing to do. Act fast and protect your rights if you are the victim of discrimination at work in Chicago.

January 8, 2012

Being Discriminated Because Of Religion In Chicago

My Chicago offices gets emails and visits from people who are the victims of religious discrimination at work. So what exactly is discrimination based on religion? You can't be treated different at work based on your religious beliefs. And the employer must make changes to the schedule that don't create a hardship on the business if your religion requires it. So if you can't work on a certain day because of your religious beliefs and it doesn't create a burden on your employer he must give you that day off. If this doesn't happen and your employer continues to treat you this way, you are in a hostile work environment and you have a right to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the complaint and gather documents from your employer.

If the IDHR finds that you are in fact being discriminated against you will have a right to file a complaint directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The actual procedure is the IDHR sending you a letter stating that they found substantial evidence and you now have 90 days to file your complaint with the IHRC. This is where the actual trial will take place and you will have an opportunity to confront your employer and his witnesses. The trial will take place in front of an administrative law judge and the remedies available to you include, back wages, future wages, money for medical care, lost benefits, attorney fees and money for emotional distress. You can also ask for your job back. All of this puts pressure on the other side and the chances of settlement if you have a decent case are good. Don't let your employer discriminate against you because of your religious beliefs.

January 7, 2012

Illinois Human Rights Commission Pre-hearing Memo

My Chicago offices gets calls all the time from people who are representing themselves in front of the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). They may have a claim of sexual harassment resulting in the creation of a hostile work environment or some other form of discrimination. The first step of course is to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). After the IDHR issues its' report and finds substantial evidence you then have 90 days to file directly with the IHRC. Now the case really starts. Do you know what to do next? Are you going to be able to proceed on your own? Chances are the answer is no. But if you insist on proceeding on your own you should know the basics.

You will be given a trail date. This usually just acts as a first status with the Judge. The reason for this is both parties usually want to engage in discovery. So the first trial date is not really a trial date. When you do get your first trial notice you will see that there is a statement about a pre-hearing memo being filed 10 days prior to the start of the trial. What is this and how should you approach it. An experienced trial lawyer will be able to handle this for you and will have filed this document many times. It is very important that you fill this out properly or it could affect your trial. I suggest you don't fill this out alone. If you are going to fill it out alone read the rules on the IHRC website and follow their instructions. Remember this memo is very important, will list your witnesses you will call, and the evidence you produce at trial. Don't list an important piece of evidence and you can't use it at trial.

December 27, 2011

Chicago Hostile Work Environment Facts

I get many calls from people in the Chicago area about their work place and what they believe is a hostile work environment. So what is a hostile work environment in Illinois? Well from a legal perspective, it is being treated different based on a protected category and then this treatment resulting in a work environment that is untenable. So for example if you are the victim of sexual harassment at work and this creates a situation that makes going into work too much for you to handle this would be considered a hostile work environment. You can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

Many people call my office and tell me about what they think is a hostile work environment but under the legal standard it is not. There is no general harassment law in Illinois and if you just have a personality conflict with a boss or co-worker, you have no case. There has to be an underlying case of discrimination. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to discover the underlying discrimination.

December 24, 2011

How Do You Prove Your Sexual Harassment Case?

So you are at work minding your own business and another worker or supervisor starts to engage in sexual harassment. What are you going to do to stop it? If you come forward and complain to human resources and the other person deny's it will your complaint end there? These are all good questions and issues to consider when trying to decide what to do if you are the victim of sexual harassment at work. So what types of evidence may you utilize to prove you are being sexually harassed? Well there are the obvious ones like text messages, email and voice messages. The problem is many times the person doing the harassment doesn't leave this type of evidence. To make matters worse, sometimes the sexual harassment takes place one-on-one and there are no witnesses. So how can you prove you are being harassed? How can you prove the creation of a hostile work environment?

Well one technique is to send an email or text to the person doing the sexual harassment memorializing what was said and see what type of response you get. For example you can text, do you really want to go out with me for dinner and perhaps more? If the person responds yes, you have proof that he said that to you in person. If the person doesn't respond, you have circumstantial evidence that something is going on, because the person didn't deny the message. This is just one technique that can help you become successful if you go forward with your sexual harassment complaint. If you do go forward you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). By the way if you file with the IDHR they automatically cross-file with the EEOC.

December 19, 2011

M. Slavin and Sons Pays $900,000 To Settle Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit

M. Slavin & Sons, Ltd., pays $900,000 to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit the was filed on behalf of over 30 black employees. According to published accounts the company created a hostile work environment for the workers based on sexual harassment, national origin, racial discrimination and retaliation.

The company owners and managers harassed the employees making explicit sexual comments and using offensive racial terms such as “n----r” and “African b-----d.” Many of the men endured this treatment because they desperately needed the work.

“Thanks to Kevin Pierson’s EEOC charge and this lawsuit, employees at M. Slavin will now be able to work in an environment free from discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Sunu P. Chandy.
December 5, 2011

Hostile Work Environment Needs Underlying Discrimination

In Illinois the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") protects employees from discrimination based on a number of categories. My Chicago office gets many calls from people who think they have a claim based on the creation of a hostile work environment. However, in Illinois the hostile work environment only exists from a legal perspective if there is an underlying charge of discrimination. The discrimination may be sexual harassment or any other form of protected category under the Act.

It is unfortunate that there isn't a general harassment law in Illinois but there isn't. There is currently a bill that is working its' way through the legislature that would make the creation of a hostile work environment illegal and actionable. Now it is helpful to speak with an employment lawyer regarding your work related issues because perhaps you are being singled out based on your gender or religion and you just don't realize it. Just remember that unless there is an underlying basis for the creation of the hostile work environment, you don't have a case that can be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

December 3, 2011

Age Discrimination In The Recession

Unemployment ranges between eight and nine percent in Chicago. As the fight for jobs increases many people over the age of 40 find themselves under more scrutiny. In Illinois it is a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA") to discriminate against someone because of their age. Under the IHRA the age is 40. Another words, if you are 40 or over you can file a charge of age discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") if you believe you are being treated different than younger workers. Many times a review of all the employee files including education, experience and pay can be utilized to prove age discrimination.

Age discrimination in the workplace can also create a hostile work environment for all employees because of the message it sends. If an person is able to show substantial evidence with the IDHR, he can then file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for a trial in front of an administrative law judge. Remember that people over 40 are starting to near the end of their work career so any negative job action against them can really ruin their career.

December 1, 2011

Sexual Harassment Involving The CEO

What happens when the most powerful person in a company is engaging in sexual harassment? Who are you suppose to complain to? Lets face it, if the Chief Executive Officer ("CEO") is sexually harassing you, the options may be limited. If you complain to human resources, they are in a terrible position. They now face the task of confronting the person who can hire and fire. Are they going to put their own job and career on the line for you? You can see that when an important and powerful person engages in sexual harassment it creates a hostile work environment for all employees.

I would recommend in this situation to complain to the human resources representative in writing. Let the human resource person worry about it and handle it--after all that is what they get paid to do. Don't put your own career at risk and do nothing. If the CEO is harassing you he isn't going to just stop on his own. And don't forget he can always come up with some excuse to fire you and then what are you going to do? If you get fired and then complain it will seem like you are now complaining because you have been fired. Take the initiative and file first.

November 29, 2011

What Is A Constructive Discharge In Chicago?

What is a constructive discharge in Illinois? A constructive discharge occurs when an employee is put in a position because of discrimination that a reasonable person in the same position would quit. Under the law a constructive discharge is treated as a termination by the employer. If a person is subjected to a hostile work environment because of discriminatory behavior, the person can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Under the law the person would have 180 days from the last date of the discrimination to file such a complaint.

After a complaint works its' way through the system with the IDHR two things will happen. Either a finding of substantial evidence or lack thereof. There is actually a third option, the IDHR doesn't complete its' investigation within one-year and a right to file directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The IHRC is where the actual trial will take place and where remedies occur. It is very important to consult with an employment lawyer early in the process to maximize your chances of getting either a good settlement or judgment.

November 28, 2011

Sexual Harassment Case At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

The Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") is the place where a sexual harassment complaint will be heard after you file your complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and get a finding of substantial evidence. You also have the option of filing your case in the local circuit court. My Chicago office handles many sexual harassment cases at the IHRC and people are foolish to not hire an experienced attorney when proceeding at that venue.

The IHRC has its' own rules and procedures which many attorneys are not familiar with. If you have an attorney who is experienced with these, it puts you in much better shape of settling your case or winning your case. Remember that sexual harassment usually creates a hostile work environment for you and other employees and you may be still working even while your case goes to trial. Taking steps to maximize your chances of winning is the best course of action. The first such step is to hire a good, aggressive and experienced employment lawyer.

November 26, 2011

Sexual Harassment And Holiday Parties

Well it's getting close to the holiday party and my office will be getting a few calls, directly after the parties. You may wonder why I can be sure I will be getting calls after company holiday parties. The reason is simple, when you combine alcohol with poorly trained managers, and women you get a sexual harassment case. What happens is people are under the mistaken belief they can act poorly and do things outside of work that they wouldn't do in a normal work place. Managers will made crude comments or attempt to have sex with employees and generally make asses out of themselves.

Try to imagine the hostile work environment that gets created for the employee after the boss tries to have sex with her at the holiday office party. How is she suppose to go into work the next day and act like nothing happened? It is amazing how often this type of activity takes place and the lack of training companies provide to management prior to the parties. If you want to ensure a good holiday party make sure your management employees know that sexual harassment isn't something that belong at the party.

November 25, 2011

Who Pays Attorney Fees At The Illinois Human Rights Commission?

A big question my Chicago offices gets is when a case gets filed at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial who pays the attorney fees. As you can imagine, attorney fees can get very expensive and most people can't afford them. My office takes cases before the IHRC on contingency fee only for the client. However, that doesn't mean that the losing party is off the hook for attorney fees. My offices hourly rate is $250 per hour and I always ask for attorney fees from the Respondent in the case. Attorney fees can easily run $30,000-$60,000 in an average hostile work environment case by the time the case goes to trial and the judge issues a decision.

There are many reasons for such high fees. First, the case starts at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and that process takes over a year. Most cases especially those involving sexual harassment have email, text messages and other detailed information. Next, the parties usually try to settle and if not there is a good deal of discovery at the IHRC. Discovery is very expensive in both time to process the information and then at trial to prepare that information for the actual trial. The good news for Complainants is that most of the time plaintiffs don't have to pay for the attorney fees of Respondents even when they lose.

November 20, 2011

Garfield Medical Center Pays $530,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Garfield Medical Center pays $530,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of several of the female victims of the sexual harassment. The female workers were either retaliated against or compelled to quit after their complaints were ignored by hospital management. When an employee quits because of the creation of a hostile work environment it is known as a constructive discharge.

According to published accounts a male emergency room admitting representative engaged in sexual harassment of female employees by subjecting them to inappropriate touching and propositions for sex. But the sexual harassment didn't stop there, it also included graphic discussions of sexual activities, and obscene pictures. Many of the female victims had to quit because they couldn't take the harassment anymore. What is really remarkable is that the company took over two years to fire the employee who was doing the harassment. Just think of how many woman had to endure this type of behavior because the company wouldn't take immediate action.

“In order to be productive, employees deserve a workplace free from sexual comments, repeated propositions and inappropriate touching,” said EEOC attorney Anna Y. Park.
November 13, 2011

Trial At The Illinois Human Rights Commission Or?

Does it makes sense to file your sexual harassment case with the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC”) after you get a finding of substantial evidence from the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”)? Well there is no standard answer to that question. In general, a case filed with the IHRC will be less expensive to pursue and will go to trail faster than a case filed with the circuit court in your particular county. However after the administrative law judge hears the case at the IHRC, it can take years before a written decision is made. If you have a case go to trial in the circuit court the verdict is made that day or a day later for the most part. So what is the advantage of filing with the IHRC? Well, most cases settle prior to trial. Because the IHRC will hear the case quicker, it logically follows that the case will settle quicker once you file with the IHRC. So one big advantage of filing with the IHRC is you may get actual money in your pocket quicker.

On the down side of filing with the IHRC, an administrative law judge and not a jury will hear your case. Juries are known to award higher amounts and sometimes having that wildcard can increase settlement amounts. And in sexual harassment cases that involve a hostile work environment juries can really award large amounts. But remember there is no rule and this varies on a case-by-case basis. Another factor to consider are the facts of the case. Sometimes a case is better off being filed in an employee friendly venue like the IHRC rather than in the local circuit court—which can be very company friendly. Remember local judges for the most part are elected and companies contribute large amounts to these elections. Administrative judges are appointed and may not have that much influence from big business. So the question of which venue should I choose will depend on the facts of your case and your goals.

November 12, 2011

Text Messages In A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

In a sexual harassment case many times the person being harassed receives text messages that are sexual in nature. In many instances the person’s supervisor, or someone in authority is sending these messages. When the sexually suggestive text messages first start it puts the employee in a very awkward position. When they get the first text message they don’t know what to do. Should they immediately confront the harasser and jeopardize their job? Should they just text something back hoping the harasser will be satisfied with the response and let things go at that? There is no playbook to follow and it puts the employee in a very difficult position. A position they should not be in. This type of activity puts an employee in a hostile work environment and can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. And the real issue is the supervisor has no business putting an employee in this position. Additionally, they company should do a better job training management so they realize they can’ do this to employees.

Once a sexual harassment complaint is filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) the company will usually try to explain the inappropriate and sexual text messages as consensual. They do this because how else can they explain the boss sending sexual messages to an employee? It is too bad they take this approach and don’t instead admit some liability and try to resolve the case at this point. My Chicago office sees case after case of employers not owning up to the sexual harassment and instead either blaming the victim or trying to concoct some story about it being consensual. The good thing about Illinois law is that under the Illinois Human Rights Act a company has strict liability if the supervisor engages in sexual harassment. This means reporting this type of behavior to human resources isn’t required before liability attaches to the company. The bottom line for victims of sexual harassment is don’t be too concerned if you happen to have responded via text message to the person harassing you.

November 2, 2011

Sexual Harassment And Politics

The recent woes of Presidential candidate Herman Cain are a good example of how rampant sexual harassment is in Illinois and the country. Of course now that it is convenient for him he is doing what most do—blaming the victim. He claims the lawsuit was frivolous and the only reason the company he worked for paid the money was to put the matter behind them. But the reality is, you don’t give someone a year’s pay if there is nothing behind the charge. And in this case not just one woman came forward but a second one did as well. I realize two victims don’t fit into the 9-9-9 plan of Mr. Cain. This kind of action creates a hostile work environment for every employee.

In the second case there was apparently an after work party and people were having drinks and appetizers. This is a great place for sexual harassment to take place. First you have alcohol and people. Second you have people in a social setting with alcohol. I think that before companies allow their employees to gather for such events they should give extra training on sexual harassment to prevent this from happening or to put employees on notice of what behavior is appropriate. In the end it cost the company money and now negative publicity.

October 20, 2011

What Is A Constructive Discharge In Illinois?

A constructive discharge is treated in Illinois as a termination. Generally what happens is an employee is the victim of sexual harassment or another form of discrimination, complains to management about it and nothing is done. The situation at work gets so unbearable that any reasonable person would quit. The courts have held that a person does not have to continue working in a hostile work environment once management is aware of the situation and refused to remedy the situation. In Illinois I filed constructive discharge cases with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they are automatically cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission("EEOC").

There are very strict time limits for filing such complaints and it is very important to not miss the filing deadline or else your case will be lost forever. Many times management will say they are investigating the complaint and they will drag their feet and waiting until the 180 days is past. By doing this, the company will have prevented you from filing with the IDHR because the statute of limitations will be in affect. It is very important to speak with an employment lawyer so you can learn your rights and not let the company push you around.

October 19, 2011

Chicago Sees Increase in Sexual Harassment Cases

Chicago is seeing an increase in the number of sexual harassment cases being filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). My office in Chicago is mirroring this fact as well. There are many reasons for the increase in cases being filed. Many employers are feeling powerful because of the current job market. They believe they can get away with thing and conduct they normally wouldn't try to get away with. They also believe employee are too afraid of losing their jobs to complain if they are the victim of sexual harassment. They seem to be wrong on both counts. People are sticking up for their rights and they are not letting these companies push them around.

I believe that as long as people fight for their rights and don't let these companies push them around the workplace will become better for all employees. Every employee in Illinois has guaranteed rights which are not only granted by the Illinois Constitution but also by the Illinois Human Rights Act. Usually there are other forms of discrimination taking place along with the sexual harassment. The most common are retaliation and the creation of a hostile work environment.

October 18, 2011

Chicago Employers Creating Hostile Work Environments

Whow just when things looked like they couldn't get any worse for employees, the big bad companies and corporations are stepping up their discrimination and creating even more hostile work environments. Now in Illinois there is no such thing as general discrimination or bullying. But if the hostile work environment is created because of sexual harassment, sexual orientation discrimination or other forms of discrimination you will have a case. Even though the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") is laying off workers, a case can still be filed with them for discrimination.

It is very important to conduct an employment attorney early in the process to protect your rights. In illinois you only have 180 days from the date of the last harassment to file with the IDHR. The big companies have plenty of people working for them and making sure they don't have to pay money to you if you have been wronged. Make sure you don't let them drag out an internal investigation past the 180 days. The big companies are very sneaky and you must be vigilant in protecting your rights.

October 12, 2011

Chicago Hostile Work Environments At Work

In Chicago the number of hostile work environment complaints seems to be on the rise. The reason for the hostile work environments seems unclear but one reason may be the current state of the economy. There is no general hostile work environment in Illinois so the hostile environment must be based on a form of discrimination. The Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") investigates violations of the Illinois Human Rights Act which covers over 15 categories of discrimination. The most common form in Illinois seems to be sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

There must be a good understanding of your rights as an employee in Chicago. The rights you have cannot be taken away by the company and unless you understand the rights and take affirmative steps to protect them, they will be lost. There are strict time limits for filing a complaint with the IDHR so it is important to speak with an employment lawyer who is skilled in this field.

October 11, 2011

Sexual Harassment And Human Resources

There is a dirty little secret regarding sexual harassment investigations within corporations. Let's take the following example to illustrate what I mean. Suzy the secretary gets sexually harassed by Bob the boss. The sexual harassment includes comments about how sexy she looks, and about her body. It is obvious the boss wants to have sex with her. Suzy reports this conduct to human resources under the corporations sexual harassment policy. Now here is what Suzy doesn't know but should. In Illinois she has 180 days from the date of the last sexual harassing incident to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or 300 days with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Those are strict time limits also known as statutes of limitations. Miss those deadlines by even one day and Suzy's case is lost. No matter how much of a hostile work environment was created she will be unable to pursue her case once the 300 days has past.

You ask why that is important? The answer is simple, many times corporate human resource departments know about the strict time limits and use them to their advantage by dragging out investigations. The human resource department will say they have to interview witnesses, gather documents, meet with various people. They may claim people are out of the office or on vacation. All the while the clock is ticking. They may make an initial report and ask Suzy to comment on it or submit other information and before you know it the 300 days has past and Suzy is out of luck. This is why it is very important to get an employment lawyer involved early in the process. The preferred method for Suzy would be to file a complaint with the IDHR--and they will cross-file with the EEOC. The corporation can still conduct their investigation during this time, but Suzy will have protection and leverage.

October 7, 2011

Does Yelling Create A Hostile Work Environment In Illinois?

My Chicago offices gets many calls from people inquiring into whether they can file a discrimination complaint based on what they perceive as a hostile work environment. The facts are usually the same. The boss is always yelling and screaming at everyone including the person who contacted my office. The yelling may include profanity and humiliating words. Although this behavior should not take place in the workplace it does. The question is does this conduct rise to the level of discrimination in Illinois? The short answer is no. In the past year the Illinois legislature defeated a bill that would have created a general harassment or bullying law. Under that law this type of activity would have resulted in a discrimination complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”). But as I said that proposed law was defeated.

Now I said the short answer to the question was no but that can turn into a yes under certain circumstances. For example if the boss yells and screams at you and no other workers, perhaps you are being singled out because of your gender, race, national origin etc. Or if the boss only yells at females there could be a gender discrimination case. The point being there may be other facts that could turn general yelling and screaming into a valid discrimination case. Remember that in Illinois there is no general harassment law and therefore more directed type discrimination must take place before you can file a complaint with the IDHR.

October 4, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settles For $250,000--Cheaper Than Legal Bills

Former City Hall secretary Fulya Metin Capanelli will get $250,000 to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit with the city of Methuen. According to published accounts Capanelli was sexually harassed by Maurice Lariviere, the former city solicitor and Capanelli's boss. When the sexual harassment started Capanelli complained to police and detectives captured Lariviere on videotape kissing and making advances toward Capanelli in his City Hall office. In what is a common ploy once there is damning evidence of sexual harassment Lariviere said his relationship with Capanelli was consensual.

One issue with settling sexual harassment cases is the cost to the other side to defend the case. In this case the city spent $364,461 in legal fees. As you can see, it would have been much smarter to settle the case early and save all of the money in legal fees. It is always in the best interest of a company to settle a case quickly and quietly. In this case all of the drama with investigators and publicity may have created a hostile work environment for other employees.

October 3, 2011

Hostile Work Environments Created During Investigations

Many times in the workplace an employee will go to human resources and file a sexual harassment complaint. As part of the investigation, human resources will contact other employees and try to determine what is going on. But often human resources has an agenda. They don't want to find out what is really going on, they want to make the whole thing go away. Employees who cooperate with the investigation may be subjected to a hostile work environment by telling the truth. This happens when the employee suddenly finds herself being targeted by the company.

Any employee who cooperates in a truthful manner with management during an investigation is protected from retaliation or any negative job action. It is very important for employees to understand their rights in this regard. Remember the company is always looking out for itself, they aren't necessarily looking out for your best interests.

September 30, 2011

Subtle Evidence In Sexual Harassment Cases

Many times there isn't a smoking gun as far as evidence is concerned in a sexual harassment case. The supervisor who is harassing you may not leave an email or text message as evidence. Instead the sexual comments may be said in a private setting without witnesses. So how is one suppose to prove a sexual harassment case in such circumstances? The answer is through subtle evidence of the harassment. For example, if you are a secretary and the boss invites you to a "business" trip so he can sexually harass you that may be utilized as evidence. If you have no real reason to be on the trip, it infers another motive in the supervisors request to have you accompany him on the trip.

Perhaps you have phone records showing the supervisor is calling you after hours at home or late at night. Even though the phone records won't show what was said on the phone, they are a subtle indication that something is amiss. Why does the supervisor have to call you late at night? Is he calling other male workers that late? This type of activity by the supervisor can show sexual harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment. Don't give up hope regarding your case if you have been sexually harassed. A good attorney can find ways to help prove your case.

September 29, 2011

Smile Brands Pays $175,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Smile Brands of Texas, L.P., pays $175,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of Deanna Chaney and Jan Pawelek. According to published accounts both females were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment. The sexual harassment included unwanted sexual comments and sexual touching. The women told the dentist to stop this conduct but it fell on deaf ears. The women then went to management to complain about the sexual harassment but nothing was done to stop it.

Some of the more disturbing aspects of the sexual harassment included the dentist telling unsolicited sexual stories, touching the women's breasts and he even attempted to kiss them. This type of behavior is well over the top and I am glad that the EEOC held them accountable. The money the company paid to settle this case it could have put to more productive use like training people properly.

"This was an outrageous case of sexual harassment in which an educated dental professional was enabled to abuse his power and subject his female employees to ongoing, unwanted, sexually vulgar comments and touches," said EEOC Attorney Devika Seth.
September 28, 2011

Aqua Tri Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $462,000

Aqua Tri settles a sexual harassment lawsuit for $462,500. The lawsuit also alleged retaliation and constructive discharge. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of hispanic workers. According to published accounts, supervisors subjected at least eight Hispanic female employees to a sexually hostile work environment which included inappropriate touching, pressuring them for dates and sex. This kind of behavior is not acceptable and will cost a company a great deal of money each time.

The female workers reported the sexual harassment to management but nothing was done to stop it. Some of the females were even told if they had sex with the supervisors they could be promoted. Several employees were either laid off or discharged following an Aqua Tri internal investigation in 2009 due to their perceived support of the victims’ claims. It is illegal to take a negative job action against any employee who participates in a discrimination investigation.

“We commend Aqua Tri for implementing aggressive injunctive relief measures to ensure this will not happen again,” said EEOC attorney Anna Park.
September 25, 2011

Sexual Harassment Investigations

Here is a scenario that is all to familiar. An employee reports sexual harassment to management or to human resources and as a result starts to get treated in a hostile manner. What will generally happen is management will let the complaint leak out to the other employees and the employee who reported the sexual harassment will now start to experience a hostile work environment from the other employees. Of course in order to do a proper investigation it may be necessary to give details including the reporting employees name. But in many cases a discreet investigation can take place protecting the identity of the employee who is reporting the sexual harassment.

Another issue that comes up with people who report sexual harassment in the workplace is the person doing the harassing may be friends with other managers or employees. In this instance the other employees or managers start to treat the person reporting sexual harassment in a negative way because they view this as an attack on their friend. When this type of activity occurs it is very important to file a complaint with either the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I prefer to file with the IDHR because they cross-file with the EEOC so you can get two for one. Additionally, the IDHR is mandated by law to complete their investigation within one-year and the EEOC is not. So for my money, the IDHR is the way to go.

September 23, 2011

Text Messages and Sexual Harassment

A question that I get often is what should I do with my text messages that are sexual in nature? Many times a supervisor or other worker will start texting with an employee. Sometimes the text messages start innocent but then turn sexual in nature and end up forming the basis of a sexual harassment lawsuit. The text messages as evidence are very important and damning. They show the number called from and the number called and the content of the message speaks for itself. The sexual text messages also create a hostile work environment for you.

So the big question is how do you get the text message off the phone. There are a few easy ways. First you could forward the text as an email and then print it off. Depending on the model phone you could hook the phone up to your computer and download it. You could pull the storage chip out of the phone and insert into a computer and download the messages. You could also forward the message to another phone that has the capabilities listed above. Even text messages that have been deleted may be able to get retrieved using special software. The important thing is to save the text messages because they will become your best evidence in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

September 18, 2011

What Is A Constructive Discharge In Illinois?

My Chicago office gets many calls about what constitutes a constructive discharge. Lets first look at what may lead you to quit your job. Lets say you are the victim of sexual harassment at work and you complain to management. If management does not take action to stop the sexual harassment or if they claim their investigation does not confirm the sexual harassment you are left with two choices. First, keep putting up with the sexual harassment or to quit your job. Generally, the sexual harassment would have to be so bad that no reasonable person in your position would continue working.

Another words, the conditions at work are so bad that you have to quit and this is treated under the law as a firing. It is very important for you to make it clear to management that you are being sexually harassed, that you consider a hostile work environment to be in place and that you want it to stop because it is interfering with your ability to do your job. I recommend doing this in writing so you have proof that you put management on notice. Remember at the end of the day, management will usually try to protect the company and if you only complain verbally, you may have a hard time proving your case.

September 17, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits In Chicago

I often get asked about what to do if you are the victim of sexual harassment at work? There are several options that are available to you. First you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Second, you can file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Lastly, if you are in Chicago, you can file with the Chicago Department of Human Rights. I always file with the IDHR because they cross-file with the EEOC so you get a two-for-one. And the IDHR is mandated by law to complete an investigation within one year. It is always in the best interest of the employee to have the case settled sooner rather than later so the IDHR helps with the settlement process because the investigate the complaint quickly.

There are many things to keep in mind that will affect your case. First, don't talk about your case with anyone. Second, don't post things about your case online. Many times people post things on Facebook or Tweet about their case. This is not a good idea and something said online could be used against you in the case. If you are complaining that the sexual harassment created a hostile work environment and then you engage in similar activity online, it will hurt your case. The bottom line is to keep quiet and just talk about your case with your attorney.

September 12, 2011

Cake Shop Sued For Sexual Harassment

ABC Cake Shop & Bakery is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment. The sexual harassment took place at work and involved a large group of female workers including teenagers. According to published accounts one of the owners would make sexual comments and engaged in unwelcome touching which created a hostile work environment for the female workers.

Some of the women who could not tolerate the sexual harassment were forced to quit their jobs which is commonly referred to as a constructive discharge. I will be following this case and I believe the women will receive a nice settlement as a result of what took place. It is very tough on employees when the person doing the harassment is the owner. Who do you report that to? The answer is you file a complaint with the EEOC or other state agency and proceed that way. In Illinois you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR does a better job of quickly investigating complaints of discrimination.

"Employers of all sizes have an important responsibility to maintain a workplace that is free of sexual harassment.” said EEOC attorney Elizabeth Cadle
September 10, 2011

Grays Harbor Community Hospital Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

Grays Harbor Community Hospital pays $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of four pharmacy technicians. According to published accounts regarding the lawsuit a supervising pharmacist was sexually harassing the technicians.
The sexual harassment consisted of offensive sexual comments which included details of his own sex life. If that wasn't bad enough he even provide details of how he masturbated.

This guy sounds like a real creep. He would even grab the females and make them feel very uncomfortable. You can see how much money and the bad publicity it costs a company when they fail to properly supervise an employee. Not only the money but think of the impact this had on the females. I am glad the EEOC stuck with this case and made the company pay.

“Employers have a duty to promptly and effectively respond to complaints of sexual harassment. When employers fail to take such reports seriously, the EEOC will take action to make sure women are not treated this way in the workplace,” said EEOC attorney Michael Baldonado

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September 9, 2011

Arizona Logistics Pays $175,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Arizona Logistics, Inc. will pay $175,000 to five former employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the former employees by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC is one of the places you can file a sexual harassment lawsuit. The other place in Illinois is the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR").

According to published accounts former Regional Director Mark Berault sexually harassed the five former employees. What is even worse, Berault sexually assaulted several of the women. That is incredible that this was taking place during business hours. Berault also engaged in unwelcome touching and indecent exposure. Of course this also created a hostile work environment for every employee. Glad the company had to pay and hope it smartens up and institutes some good sexual harassment policies in the future.

“This was an outrageous case of sexual harassment involving a supervisor who preyed upon vulnerable female employees, subjecting them to some of the most extreme forms of sexual harassment,” said EEOC Attorney Mary J. O’Neill.
September 6, 2011

Hostile Work Environment Can't Be Based on General Harassment

I get many calls at my Chicago office about general harassment type questions. The boss yells at everyone or the boss is always slamming things around the office. In short, people call and say the boss is just an ass. The problem in Illinois is there is no general harassment law. People think that if the boss acts this way it is the basis of a hostile work environment. In Illinois it is not. In order to have a hostile work environment you need a basis of discrimination. For example, the boss is yelling at me because I am female--gender discrimination, or the boss is yelling at me because I am black--racial discrimination. If the boss is just a jerk, there is no case. Your only option at that point is to quit. The legislature tried to pass a law that would have covered this type of behavior but it failed.

What I suggest you do is evaluate whether or not there is some other reason why the boss is always yelling at you or throwing things. Is it because you are female? Are you the only person in your office that this is happening to ? So even though it may seem like he is just being a jerk, perhaps he is really discriminating against you based on a protected category. It is free to call my office and discuss the issue so why not ? You should work hard to protect your rights and not let the boss get away with this type of behavior.

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September 5, 2011

Sexual Harassment and College Professors

Well it's time for college students to head back to school. This could present problems for both students and the college. There are more cases of sexual harassment directed against Universities than most people think. The reason for this is that many college professors have sex with their students. You would think the colleges and universities would have strict policies against this type of behavior, but they only seem to give it lip service. There are many college professors that get caught having sex with students and they are still allowed to teach. It is amazing that this practice continues, but it does. When a college professor has sex with a student it could create a hostile work environment for all students if the students are involved with a work type program.

My Chicago office is constantly getting calls from students who had sex with their college professor. Many times the relationship is deemed consensual by the university administration but how can you have a truly consensual relationship with the teacher/student dynamic? I alway file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") instead of with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The reason for this is that the IDHR cross-files with the EEOC and the IDHR is mandated by law for complete an investigation within one-year. Also, the IDHR seems to do a better job at conducting a timely investigation.

September 2, 2011

Sexual Orientation and a Hostile Work Environment

There is no general harassment law in Illinois. This means if you are just being treated badly by the boss--too bad. However, if you are being treated in a discriminatory way that is a different story. So for example if the boss is treating you terrible and also calling you gay and making anti-homosexual comments that would form the basis for a sexual orientation discrimination claim. The claim could be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I prefer to file with the IDHR because the are mandated to investigate within one year and they are required to cross-file with the EEOC.

Along with the person being discriminated against, other employees may also be in a hostile work environment as a result of what is taking place. The reason for this is when conduct is taking place that is discriminatory it affects all employees. Also, if there is an investigation, other employees can get dragged into it and then have negative job actions taken against them for cooperating during the investigation. Even though we are at a point in time where the state of Illinois allows for civil unions between same sex couples, there is still a great deal of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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August 30, 2011

Hostile Work Environment Can't Be Based On General Harassment In Illinois

In the State of Illinois there is no such thing as general harassment. The legislature tried unsuccessfully to pass a bullying in the workplace law but it was defeated. What that means is if your boss is just a general jerk and yells and screams there isn't much you can do other than quit. Unless the hostile work environment is created because of sexual harassment, age discrimination or other forms of recognized discrimination you can't file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). If the hostile work environment is being created based on a discriminatory category you can file directly with either the IDHR or EEOC--although I recommend hiring an employment lawyer on contingency to file on your behalf and to protect your rights.

My Chicago offices gets many calls from employee who are the victims of general harassment and unfortunately there isn't much I can do. However it is always a good idea to call my office or the office of an employment attorney to discuss because sometimes even though the boss is being a jerk and it seems like a general harassment case, he may only be yelling at you because you are the only female or only gay employee in which instance you may have a case.

August 29, 2011

Sexual Harassment Cases In Illinois And Text Messages

Are text messages a good form of proof in sexual harassment cases? Yes, they are very good forms of evidence. The text message will show the phone numbers of both people involved in the exchange as well as the content and date. In Illinois my office files cases of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). When filing I will attach copies of the text messages to show the actual sexual harassment that was taking place. Many times the person doing the harassment will deny that any sexual harassment took place so it is important attach copies of text messages so the company management or company attorney can see what has actually taken place.

My Chicago office is also seeing more hostile work environment cases where instant messages are being used to sexually harass someone. Again, it is very important to print out these messages and save them--saving them electronically is also good. The amount that is paid by a company to settle a sexual harassment or hostile work environment case will increase greatly if there is proof of the discrimination. Technology is working to the advantage of employees and it is important to protect your rights by saving incriminating evidence.

August 26, 2011

Briggs Equipment Inc. Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $112,000

Briggs Equipment, Inc. pays $112,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged that Bobby Wysong was subjected to racial discrimination when he was terminated from his position as a technician because of his race, black. A company cannot take an adverse action against an employee based on his race or other protected category. In Illinois this type of activity could result in a complaint being filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") as well as the EEOC.

According to published accounts Briggs subjected Wysong to a hostile work environment by employees calling Briggs various derogatory names. The main culprit was management employee Mario Rodriguez who referred to Wysong as a “n----r,” “slave” and “dark horse” in conjunction with expressly stating he wanted Wysong fired. The amazing thing was Rodriguez admitted to the comments and other employees also came forward to corroborate the story.

EEOC attorney Eduardo Juarez said “Not only have we obtained significant financial relief for Bobby Wysong, the employment practices that Briggs uses will be greatly improved. No one should have to put up with racial abuse in their place of work – or, even worse, losing his livelihood because of racism.”

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August 22, 2011

Hostile Work Environments Need Basis Of Discrimination

In Illinois the basis for the hostile work environment needs to be some form of discrimination. Usuallly a claim of sexual harassment will form the basis of the hostile work environment. There is no such thing as general harassment in Illinois so it isn't enough if the boss is just a jerk and yells at you. The pool treatment needs to be based on some form of protected category like gender, race, age, national origin, etc. I know this doesn't sound fair or right but in Illinois it is the law. The legislature tried to pass a general harassment type law called the bullying law but it did not pass earlier in the year--so write your legislator if you want it passed.

Many times even though it may seem like the boss is just a jerk, he may be picking on you because he didn't like females or minorities. It is very important to speak with an employment attorney early on so that you can learn your rights and how best to proceed. In Chicago there are many options for someone who is the victim of discrimination. I believe the best option is to make a plan and to try and obtain as much evidence as possible before doing anything. Remember that the call to my office is free and it is better to get an opinion than to go it alone. The company has people working on their behalf so should you.

August 21, 2011

Sexual Harassment May Be Subtle

Many times in sexual harassment cases the evidence may be subtle in nature. There may not be a smoking gun. It is very important to try and remember the names of people who may have been witnesses to what is going on. If possible try to never be alone with the person harassing you. If the person wants to talk on the phone, try and have someone in the room with you and put the harassor on speaker. Another thing you may do is to send the harassor an email confirming what they said to you in person and see how they respond. This can confirm the hostile work environment and help you in the future.

I believe it is very important to think ahead and try to get as much evidence as possible before going forward with a sexual harassment claim. Remember once you go to human resources the harassor will be extra careful and if you can't back up your claim the company may take action against you for filing a false claim. It is very important to get the advice of an employment lawyer before doing anything. Remember the company is going to have people on their payroll protecting them, you should have somone too.

August 17, 2011

New York University Pays $210,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

New York University ("NYU") pays $210,000 to settle a national origin discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit alleged that NYU violated federal law by subjecting an African-born employee from Ghana to a hostile work environment that included degrading verbal harassment. When an employee is subjected to hostile comments it not only affects that employee but it can have a negative impact on all employees.

Published accounts reveal that the supervisor of the mailroom regularly addressed the employee with slurs such as “monkey” and “gorilla” and insults such as “go back to your cage” and “do you want a banana?” It is unbelievable that this type of conduct was taking place at an institution of higher learning. It took NYU a very long time to investigate the employee’s many complaints and then took virtually no corrective action. To make matters worse, NYU was even aware that the supervisor made up stories to get the man in trouble and to discipline him. I am glad the man hung in there and made the University pay.

“This suit shows that ugly harassment and retaliation can happen anywhere, even at a prestigious university,” said EEOC Gillian L. Thomas
August 16, 2011

Marital Status Inquiry A Form Of Discrimination

In Illinois it is a violation of the law for an employer to inquire as to your marital status. Many people will say that this sounds odd and what is the big deal? Well the problem with asking about the marital status is two fold. First, an employer may decide that a single person may be less stable or may have a harder time juggling home and kids with work. Second, and employer doesn't have a need to know your personal business. Whether you are married or not doesn't have anything to do with your job.

If you are being asked these types of questions or if you are not being promoted because you are a single mother you can contact my office and we can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Any claim filed with the IDHR will be cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") but the IDHR will take the lead in investigation. Any form of discrimination also creates a hostile work environment for workers and should be addressed. Other forms of discrimination get more headlines and are more familiar to people but marital status discrimination is actionable in Illinois.

August 15, 2011

Are Rude Comments A Hostile Work Environment?

My Chicago offices gets many calls regarding a hostile work environment. Many callers ask if there is a hostile work environment based on the boss yelling at them or otherwise treating them poorly. Unfortunately in Illinois there is no general harassment law. Another words, in order to have a hostile work environment in Illinois there must be an underlying basis of discrimination. So for example if you are the subject of sexual harassment then there could be a creation of a hostile work environment.

However if the boss is just a jerk and yells and screams there isn't much you can do about it. Unless the boss is treating you different because of your gender or race or other protected class you just have to take it. Perhaps in the future the legislature will pass a general harassment law but until they do, there isn't one. However, sometimes after talking to employees I can determine that the boss is picking on the person and perhaps the person is the only female at work so perhaps it is really a gender discrimination case. The bottom line is to speak with an employment attorney.

August 14, 2011

Sexual Harassment Evidence

Companies are getting very clever and in this economy they are getting rid of any employee who rocks the boat. What will typically happen is the employee is getting sexually harassed and speaks with management or human resources. The company does not want to rock the boat and really just wants to sweep the whole matter under the rug so they try and minimize what took place. Unless the employee is educated about the facts of a sexual harassment case, chances are they can be tricked by management. It is very important to learn your rights regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. Remember that the company has lawyers and people in place protecting their rights--so should you. Remember sexual harassment could create a hostile work environment for all employees.

There are usually three types of evidence in a sexual harassment case. First there are other employees who would be first hand witnesses. Second would be written evidence such as email. And lastly, voice mails. Most harassers are not stupid enough to say things in front of other employees or leave damning voice messages so email my be your best source of evidence. Even if the harasser does not email you but instead says stuff to you one-on-one you can still capture what was said via email. I suggest memorializing what the harasser said to you in person by resending it to him via email and getting him to respond. The key is to do it in such a way that he responds.

August 13, 2011

Woodman's Settles ADA Lawsuit For $35,000

Woodman’s Food Market’s, Inc. filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. In its lawsuit, the EEOC contended that Woodman’s unlawfully fired employee because of her back condition.
Woodman’s store settled an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $35,000. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after Woodman's terminated Kimberly McMillan-Goodwin, a long-term Woodman’s employee who worked as a clerk at its gas station. The reason for her termination was because she had a back condition that kept her from lifting more than ten pounds. Under the law a company must make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or be in violation of the ADA.

According to details in the lawsuit McMillan-Goodwin had successfully worked in that position with the lifting restriction for many years. The problem was Woodman’s placed McMillan-Goodwin on medical leave and then terminated her. This type of blatant activity will always result in the company paying money for discrimination. I am happy to report that the company will undergo training and the EEOC will make sure the company puts better policies in place in the future. This type of behavior also creates a hostile work environment for all employees because they can see the harmful treatment of a fellow employee.

“This case might never have arisen if Woodman’s had had clear policies and training to guide its management and human resources employees on the requirements of the ADA,” said EEOC Attorney John Hendrickson.
August 12, 2011

Williams Country Sausage Pays $60,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Williams Country Sausage ("WCS") pay $60,000 to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accoutns WCS was paying an African-American maintenance worker less than white counterparts and subjecting him to a hostile work environment. The worker had to work just as hard as the other employees for a lower wage--that isn't right.

WCS gave raises and paid higher salaries to all maintenance department employees except the department’s lone African-American employee and allowed a supervisor to regularly use racially offensive language toward the employee because of racial animus. This type of activity is not right and I am glad the employee stood up and did not take it. WCS should be embarassed by the actions that took place and hopefully this won't happen in the future.

“Sadly, race discrimination continues to exist in the workplace where workers are paid less and forced to endure a racially hostile work environment,” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams.
August 1, 2011

Hostile Work Environments In Illinois

In Illinois a hostile work environment exists for all employees if the atmosphere is so negatively charged that the employee cannot perform his or her work properly because another employee has been subjected tot sexual harassment or another form of discrimination. Many times employees get caught up in a sexual harassment investigation and as a result of the investigation, something negative happens to them. For example, after truthfully telling their version of events, the employee is then targeted by a manager or perhaps fired. This would be a form of retaliation and in Illinois it is a form of discrimination.

I suggest that all employees contact an employment law attorney if they are involved in a sexual harassment investigation and believe they are being targeted by human resources or management. Remember you have a short time period from the date of the harassment or discrimination to file a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). My office handles claims at both locations and I offer a free consultation. Make sure you protect your rights.

July 31, 2011

Sexual Harassment Cases Create Hostile Work Environment

When a person at work is subjected to sexual harassment, it creates a hostile work environment for all employees. I know you are wondering why all employees would be affected by this. Consider the message this sends to other employees. First, you can be treated this way and management does not care enough to intervene. Second, you could be the next victim. And lastly, you may be not getting the promotion you deserve or you may be getting treated different because of the sexual harassment of another person.

A hostile work environment is very hard on all employees and reduces productivity among other things. I think one of the most important things a company can do is to ensure discriminatory conduct is not taking place at work and to make sure a hostile work environment does not exist. Training of all employees is a must and especially the training of supervisors and management. My chicago office continues to see an increase in the number of cases involving both sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

July 26, 2011

Sexual Harassment Investigations

Once an employee makes a complaint to human resources or management about sexual harassment, the company usually engages in some sort of investigation. It is very important to speak with an attorney prior to the investigation because the company will have its' rights protected. And the company will have a strategy in place for conducting the investigation. Remember the company is more focused on protecting its' assets--read that as its' money. They don't want to pay you anything or as little as possible. It is important to keep this in mind as you move forward.

So what can you expect from a sexual harassment investigation? The company will want statements from you first. Once you give the statement, the company will want the names of witnesses and any other evidence you have (i.e. emails, text messages, phone voice mails etc.). Once the company has that information it will usually bring in the harasser for his side of the story. Depending on how the company handles the investigation, the company could create a hostile work environment for you based on the investigation.

July 23, 2011

Request Your Personnel File When Filing A Sexual Harassment Complaint

My Chicago office gets this question all the time. Do I have a right to request my personnel file from human resources? The answer is yes. It is very important to request the file as soon as possible because you don't want anything to happen to job evaluations or to have your employer suddenly put negative things in your file. When people ask me to file a sexual harassment complaint on their behalf I always ask them to request the personnel file. Many times the employee file can help show there was a hostile work environment taking place at work.

I recommend you file the personnel file in writing and by email is possible. Usually if you make the request by email you will get a response and you can save that as prove that you made the request. Once you get the file, check it very carefully to ensure it is accurate and if it is not, put the discrepancy in writing. Again, it is very important to do this as soon as possible. In many cases, the personnel file can make or break your claim.

July 14, 2011

Bell Company Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $230,000

The Bell Company pays $230,000 to settle a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Elaine Cusato. According to published accounts the Bell Company subjected Cusato to a hostile work environment while she was employed as a skilled equipment operator. The EEOC said that Cusato was subjected to daily criticism by her supervisor, the plumbing crew foreman, with a vehemence, aggression and profanity that was not directed at male workers which would be the basis for her gender discrimination lawsuit.

When mechanical foreman Timothy Shultz refused to fire Cusato solely because she was considered a “troublemaker” for complaining about the gender discrimination, both were fired as retaliation. This type of activity is not acceptable and will result in a lawsuit every time. I am glad Mr. Shultz stood up and refused to follow the company line. The company should change the way it does business and the way it treats employees.

“Employers have a responsibility to maintain an environment free of gender-based harassment and retaliation, which are clearly and simply illegal,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
July 9, 2011

Sexual Harassment, Retaliation and Human Resources

Corporations are losing their collective minds these days. Not only are claims of sexual harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment on the rise but when the employee reports the sexual harassment to human resources they are being terminated at an alarming rate. This is commonly referred to as retaliation. As mentioned in previous posts, the purpose of human resouces for many companies is to run interference for and eliminate troublemakers. Who does human resources belieave to be the troublemakers ? People who complain about sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination.

I know this sounds counter intuitive but the facts seem to bare this out. It is very important to do several things before going to human resources. First gather and save any evidence of the sexual harssment you may have. This will include emails, text messages, voice messages and any witnesses. Next notify human resources in writing and include copies of your evidence--so you can prove that you complained to human resources and gave them the evidence you had. This will prevent them for denying that you complained about sexual harassment at a later date. Remember in the war that is being waged against employees, human resources isn't your friend.

July 4, 2011

What Is A Hostile Work Environment?

First, happy 4th of July. Well a hostile work environment in Illinois can consist of a few things. There has to be an underlying type of discrimination before you can have a hostile work environment. For example, if you are being subjected to sexual harassment by your boss, he is also creating a hostile work environment for you and also for your co-workers. That is right your co-workers could also make a claim for discrimination based on you being sexually harassed.

My chicago office hears many types of discrimination cases and I often see the creation of a hostile work environment as a result of sexual harassment. The employee rejects the bosses advances and is then treated coldly. Maybe the persons hours are cut, projects and responsibilities taken away or the promotion is not given. It is very important to speak with an attorney to find out all of your rights and to protect yourself.

July 2, 2011

Sexual Harassment and Text Messages

There are many ways that a person can prove they are being preyed upon in the workplace. The burden of proof in a sexual harassment case is on the complainant and there usually has to be evidence to support the claim. One of the best forms of evidence is of course witnesses. However, in many cases no one is willing to come forward or the harassment is done one-on-one. Another powerful piece of evidence is the text message. Texting is very common these days and even in the workplace. If you are the victim of sexual harassment and your boss or co-workers sends you a text message that is inappropriate, save it.

If you have deleted your text message all is not lost. There is software available that allows you to retrieve the deleted text messages. There are time limits and data limits involved and you should consult my office to determine the best course of action. I recommend you get an attorney involved early in a sexual harassment or hostile work environment situation.

July 1, 2011

A Dollar General Pays $50,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Dolgencorp, LLC, doing business as Dollar General pays $50,000 to three former female employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the three workers after the company would not help them. According to published accounts Amanda Strickland, Maria Strickland and Tina Baxley were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment while employed at Dollar General.

The women were sexually harassed by a male Dollar General store manager which means there is strict liability to the company. The alleged sexual harassment included offensive sexual comments, requests for sex and unwelcome touching of the women’s breasts and buttocks. As is typical in these types of cases, management became aware of the activity and did nothing to stop it. You can see how much money it cost the company when this takes place.

“We are pleased that this settlement provides training to managers and supervisors about Title VII’s requirements against discrimination and harassment,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
June 24, 2011

Finish Line Settles ADA Lawsuit For $38,000

Finish Line, Inc. settled an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $38,000. The ADA lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Emma Armon. According to published accounts Armon had a right shoulder injury and wanted a transfer to an available customer service representative position as a reasonable accommodation to her disability. This would seem to be a very reasonable accommodation and under the law should have been granted especially since Armon was qualified for the open position.

However, Armon was not given the position and instead no accommodation was made for her which violated the ADA which requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities as long as this poses no undue hardship. As a result, the company had to pay money and now has a record of discrimination. This is such a waste, I will never understand why companies just don't do the right thing and follow the law. This type of activity also creates a hostile work environment for all employees because the other employees can see this type of discrimination and it sets a negative tone for the workplace.

“As the statute makes clear, failure to provide a reasonable accomodation for disabilities is in violation of federal law,” said EEOC attorney Laurie Young
June 23, 2011

Sexual Harassment Evidence

I get many calls to my Chicago office about what constitutes evidence of sexual harassment. There are many types of evidence. Direct testimony, where a person testifies about what he or she heard. There are email, text messages, and voice messages (it is illegal in Illinois to record someone without their permission, but if a person chooses to leave a voice message they are consenting). Sometimes the person doing the sexual harassment will give gifts, send cards or letters via the post office and may call the person during non-work hours. I can get the telephone log to show the calls were made and there usually isn't a business reason to call someone at home late at night or after work. This would constitute a hostile work environment.

If your boss or the person committing the sexual harassment only does it one on one, a good technique to utilize is to send the person an email, memorializing what he said to you and see if he responds. So if he said he would like to take you out and do xyz to you, send him an email and say something like you caught me off guard in the hall today, do you really want to go out with me and do xyz? You are not entrapping him but rather just memorializing what he said and seeing what his response is. At the end of the day if you file a complaint of sexual harassment, the burden is on you to prove your case so it is very helpful if you have some evidence.

June 21, 2011

LensCrafters Pays $192,500 To Settle A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

LensCrafters pays $192,500 to settle a female-on-male sexual harassment lawsuit. This type of lawsuit is unusual but becoming more common as more females are in leadership positions in companies. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the male employee. According to published accounts LensCrafters subjected a male employee to a sexually hostile work environment while he was at work.

The male lab technician was subjected to sexual harassment and then he complained to management about it and they did nothing to stop the harassment. The sexual harassment included the female employee touching the male and making inappropriate comments about his appearance. The company did not take the complaints seriously because the person was a man. This type of behavior by the company is no acceptable and ended up costing them a good deal of money.

“This is a favorable resolution for everyone,” said EEOC attorney Nedra Campbell. “Sexual harassment is always unjust and illegal, regardless of the gender of the perpetrator or the victim.”
June 12, 2011

What Is A Hostile Work Environment?

My office in Chicago gets this question often-what is a hostile work environment in Illinois? There are two types of hostile work environments. First, there is what is called a quid pro quo which is Latin and means this for that. In essence, if the boss says have sex with me and I will let you keep your job. This type of hostile work environment happens in sexual harassment cases. The second type is a culmination of acts the violate one of the categories of discrimination. For example people at work keep looking at porn and you keep seeing it on the computer screens. Or you are the subject of sexual commenets at work. These activities would create a hostile work environment.

Right now in Illinois there is no general harassment law or bullying law. Which means that the hostile work environment can only be claimed if it is based on acts that violate the Illinois Human Rights Act or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Bascially, there has to be some category of discrimination that is violated--like sexual harassment or gender discrimination. If you are unsure of whether or not you have a legitimate case, you should contact my office to get an opinion. It is very important to do so early because there are strict time limits for filing claims and if you miss them, your case is lost.

June 7, 2011

True North Inc. Pays $103,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

True North Inc. which operates a shelter for women who have been victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse pays $103,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two employees who were punished by True North, Inc. for reporting sexual harassment by the shelter’s executive director. The two women, Gause and Lawson claim Executive Director Leigh Voltmer touched staff members inappropriately on several occasions.

Less than two weeks after making the complaint, Gause was terminated and Lawson was demoted and her salary was cut. Both women had received positive feedback regarding their performance during their tenure as employees, but were terminated without warning, allegedly for poor performance. Following the board’s actions, other employees came forward and complained about a hostile work environment created by Voltmer.

“Nancy Gause and Tracie Lawson came forward at great personal risk to report complaints they had received from the shelter’s staff. Comprehensive Human Services is an organization that purports to shield women from abuse. These women should have been supported in reporting sexual harassment, not punished for doing the right thing." said EEOC attorney Barbara Seely.
June 6, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Often Settled

There is a myth out there that most sexual harassment cases go to trial and there is a large verdict. One reason for this myth is the fact that most big cases get publicity and are reported in the various medias. Cases that settle for millions often make the news and give people a false sense of the true value of most sexual harassment cases. The average case does not settle for big money but settling the case is often good for a number of reasons. First, it gives closure to the victim and helps the person get on with her life. Second, it gives a guarantee of some money and lasty it can be taken as a victory-the fact that the other side paid some money. Most sexual harassment cases also involve retaliation and the creation of a hostile work environment.

The danger in taking a sexual harassment or other type of case to trial is that by the time the case goes to trial, the company could be out of business or bankrupt. The reason it takes so long is that if you file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") they cross file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The IDHR has up to one-year to complete its' investigation and that only gives you the right to file directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") if the IDHR finds substanial evidence. It will take another year with the IHRC before the actual trial and a decision by the judge after trial can take another two-years. If the EEOC investigates instead of the IDHR, it can take even longer. So if you can setttle.

June 5, 2011

Hostile Work Environments On The Rise

The number of cases involving the creation of a hostile work environment in Illinois seems to be on the rise. My Chicago office is reporting an increase in the number of hostile work environment cases based on sexual harassment. If you are the victim of such a case my office will file a complaint on your behalf with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and that complaint will be automatically cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). There are many reasons for the increase but the biggest is probably the lack of respect employers seems to convey to their employees.

The economy has been down for so long that employers believe they can do whatever they want to employees and nothing will happen. The employers believe they can easily replace the employee and therefore they falsely believe they are untouchable. I am here to tell you they are not. If you believe you are the victim of a hostile work environment based on sexual harassment or another form of discrimination please contact either of my offices. I hold many companies responsible for their actions and I can help you.

May 26, 2011

Chrysler Group Pays $60,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Chrysler Group, LLC pays $60,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Chrysler’s second-shift supervisor at the Milwaukee facility removed one of the women from the coveted position of driving a power sweeper and assigned her to gather parts in the back order release area. A male with less seniority was placed in the position which would go against normal policy. The female questioned why this was taking place as it seemed to be a form of gender discrimination. The manager called the female a troublemaker and threatened to fire her--which is retaliation.

Retaliation for opposing gender discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The female worker stuck up for her rights and would not let the company push her around. You can tell by the settlement amount that the company realized it made a mistake and wanted to put this matter behind it. This type of activity also creates a hostile work environment for all workers and can hinder production. Hopefully better processes and training will be in place for the future and employees can have a discrimination free work place.

said EEOC attorney John Hendrickson “Any adverse job action that might deter an employee from pursuing his or her rights is unlawful. Title VII protects employees who oppose discrimination even when their complaints do not take the form of an EEOC charge or written grievance."
May 24, 2011

ERA Helicopters Sued For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Alanna Taylor Berthelot who is a former employee of ERA Helicopters alleged she was fired after reporting that male co-workers subjected her to sexual harsasment and a hostile work environment. The allegations include sexually suggestive comments and inappropriate touching. Just as an aside, there is no appropriate touching in the workplace. As if that weren't bad enough Berthelot reported the behavior to human resources but was told to "suck it up and move on." And then the company fired her which is considered retaliation.

As is typical in most cases like this Berthelot is seeking damages for emotional distress, front pay, back pay, loss of benefits, attorney's fees and court costs. This type of activity at work is troubling if proven and shows what human resources is all about for most companies--a department that cares about the company not the employee.

May 20, 2011

Anthem College Pays $260,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

High-Tech Institute, Inc., doing business as Anthem College Online, pays $260,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged Anthem College subjected female employees to repeated sexual harassment by supervisors. According to published accounts three male supervisors sexually harassed six female admissions representatives. The sexual harassment included touching and unannounced visits to the homes of the females.

According to the lawsuit Anthem College knew or should have known about and tolerated this sexually hostile work environment caused by its supervisors. One of the men that was doing the sexual harssment would socialize with upper management and the females were hesitant to come forward at first for that reason. At the end of the day, the College did not do anything to stop the sexual harassment and for that reason the settlement amount was large.

“Employees who have an official or strong duty to communicate to management are considered part of management,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill
May 16, 2011

Dillard's Pays $50,000 To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Dillard’s, Inc. pays $50,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of 61 year old manager Virginia Keene. According to published reports about the lawsuit, Keene was fired from her position as an area sales manager and replaced with a 24-year-old employee who only had four months of experience as an area sales manager. This is unusual and would indicate that age is playing a factor in the employment decision. Keene successfully worked as an area sales manager for over four years and right before she was fired had ranked second out of six area sales managers.

To make matters worse for the company Keene received positive reviews in her two most recent performance appraisals and had twice been recommended for promotion. When you hear this kind of evidence it makes it obvious that the company was engaging in age discrimination. Throughout the course of her employment with Dillard’s, Keene’s managers made repeated references to her age, telling her she was too old for a sales job and that it might be time for her to let the younger managers take over. I am glad Keene hung in there and made the company pay her for the discrimination. This type of activity also creates a hostile work environment for all employees.

“Older workers have experience and skills that are too often overlooked,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
May 7, 2011

Western Washington University Pays $135,000 To Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Western Washington University pays $135,000 to Shannon O'Dwyer to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. O'Dwyer was a dispatcher in its police department who alleged she was fired after complaining about co-workers making racist and sexist remarks. Fired for complaining about discrimination is known as retaliation. This type of behavior is uncalled for and will cost a University money every time it happens. I am glad Shannon stuck in there and did not put up with it.

The hostile work environment type remarks included men saying that Western was only hiring minorities to fill quotas, claiming a woman only kept her job because she performed sexual favors, and that an African-American co-worker was only promoted because he's black. Western Washington University would do well to train its' employees to act better and to understand how comments like these can affect other employees.

According to the University O'Dwyer was fired during her probationary period and that it did not violate state law. However, I think the settlement amount speaks to what really took place. That is a great deal of money for a justifiable firing. I am seeing an increase in the number of University related claims of discrimination and retaliation. My Chicago office is especially busy with these types of claims.


May 5, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With Marina Materowski Settles For $305,000

Hudson County will pay $305,000 to Marina Materowski to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by Materowski, against the county and two correctional officers. According to published accounts Materowski alleged her two male colleagues made repeated derogatory comments, including calling her a "damn hussy" and "ho."

Additionally, Materowski claims that one of the men grabbed her off an office chair, pulled her onto the floor and physically restrained her by straddling her and grabbing her wrists. The other employee just sat and didn't intervene and try to stop what was taking place. This type of behavior in the workplace is no acceptable. This type of activity can also create a hostile work environment. Regardless of what paid mouthpieces say, the large settlement amount speaks for itself.

"The settlement should not be interpreted as an admission of guilt", county spokesman Jim Kennelly said.

May 4, 2011

Retaliation Lawsuit With Eclipse Advantage Settles For $60,000

Eclipse Advantage, Inc. pays $60,000 to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Rodney Williams. According to published accounts, African-American employee Williams endured racial discrimination and when he reported it, the company engaged in retaliation. Williams began working in a supervisory position with the company and shortly thereafter was subjected to racial epithets from his superiors.

In a remarkable event, on his first day, Williams was asked if he was a “black man or a n----r.” The lawsuit alleged management frequently used racial slurs, most notably the N-word in the workplace. And Williams was demoted from supervisor to team lead and then discharged from his position as a team lead after complaining about a hostile work environment. This type of behavior is unacceptable and as you can see it will cost the company money and bad publicity every time.

“ The settlement not only provides monetary compensation for the discrimination victim, it also provides significant injunctive relief to prevent and eliminate further harassment and retaliation.” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence
May 1, 2011

Warehouse Company DB Schenker Sued For Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment

Angela McDonald and nine other warehouse workers filed a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against DB Schenker alleging sexual harassment, the creatiion of a hostile work environment and racial discrimination. The problems include co-workers flying Confederate flags, KKK scrawled in the bathrooms and swastikas drawn on the coffee machine and walls. McDonald complained to management but nothing was done to take down the offensive material or to put a stop to it.

The warehouse is located in Joliet Illinois and there is an increase in Illinois in the number of discrimination claims filed with the EEOC and the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The sexual harassment included one woman being chased around the warehouse by a male co-worker who was trying to have sex with her. Not only was the male not disciplined but he was promoted into another job. This is the type of behavior by management that makes people file charges of discrimination. This blog will follow the lawsuit and report as information becomes available.

“When I’m leaving at one in the morning, there is no security and I know there are people who are hateful and prejudiced in the building,” McDonald said. “I’m afraid of someone hurting me.”

Continue reading "Warehouse Company DB Schenker Sued For Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment" »

April 28, 2011

Sexual Harassment and Reporting It To Human Resources

My chicago office gets calls all the time regarding sexual harassment and what to do about it. Many times the person calling wants to know if they should report it to the Human Resources Manager or tell someone else. Before we go any further you should realize that in most instances, Human Resources ("HR") is there to help the company not you. They may act like they are concerned but at the end of the day, they will do what is in the best interest of the company. In many cases, sexual harassment creates a hostile work environment for all employees and it should be in the best interest of the company to stop it, but sadly many companies choose to shoot the messenger.

I suggest that before going to HR you get as much evidence as possible together and keep it in a safe place (i.e. not at work). If you think a co-worker witnessed some of the sexual harassment send the co-worker an email and ask about it in a non-intimidating fashion. By getting a response, you are locking the co-worker into a position. If the co-worker later feels threatened by HR and changes his story, you have the saved email to show a different side of the events. I believe it is important to speak with an attorney and have a plan in place before speaking with HR. The company has people looking out for its best interest, so should you.

April 25, 2011

Morgan & Morgan Law Firm Sued For Sexual Harassment

Michelle Burman a former employee of the Morgan & Morgan law firm filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court against the firm. Burman filed her claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and then received a right to sue letter. Burman claims she was exposed to sexual comments, sexual jokes, and sexual stories while working for the firm as a client service intake specialist. Burman claims her supervisor was the source of the sexual harassment. Burman also claims her supervisor was often intoxicated and that female employees had to provide sexual favors in order to get ahead at the firm.

Burman alleges when she rebuffed her supervisor's advances he became more and more hostile toward her and he treated her differently from co-workers. If her claims turned out to be true, Burman would have been subjected to a hostile work environment. Burman also alleges that the firm's Human Resources department did not properly investigate claims. The firm is disputing both her claim and that fact that the Human Resources department did not investigate. One of the founders Mr. Morgan said there was a large file regarding Burman and her complaint.

"That's a lie," said Morgan. "The HR department conducted a full investigation. There's a large file."
April 24, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settles For $79,000

Prestige Home Centers, Inc. pays $79,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of several man. According to published accounts male employees were subjected to sexual harassment from a male supervisor. The sexual harassment included touching, requests for sexual favors and sexual comments.

When the men complained about the sexual harassment the supervisor retaliated. This type of behavior also creates a hostile work environment for all the workers and could lead to additional complaints. In this case, the men would not take the abuse from the supervisor any longer and filed directly with the EEOC. I am glad to see the case resolved in a favorable manner.

“Employees should not be subjected to this type of harassing behavior in the modern workplace,” “Employers must act swiftly to correct hostile work environments and prevent employee exposure to such outrageous conduct and retaliation.”said EEOC Attorney Robert Weisberg.
April 23, 2011

Ralph Jones Sheet Metal Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $160,000

Ralph Jones Sheet Metal, Inc. pays $160,000 to former African-American employees to settle a racial harassment lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on their behalf. According to published accounts a white supervisor and other employees subjected African-American employees to racially offensive comments. The comments included the use of the N word and other such slurs.

This type of activity creates a hostile work environment for all employees. I am glad these employees decided to contact the EEOC and not let this supervisor get away with what he was doing. I know most people don't think this type of activity still takes place but it does. As you can see by the amount the company had to pay to settle this lawsuit, having a mouthy employee can cost a good deal of money.

“Employees should not have to endure a racially hostile work environment as it is a violation of federal law.” said EEOC attorney Faye Williams
April 20, 2011

Deputy Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $900,000

Deputy Robert Lyznick settled his sexual harassment lawsuit with the county that employed him for $900,000. According to published accounts Lyznick claims his supervisor asked him to come into the bathroom for a rectal probe. Additionally Lyznick said his supervisor wanted to get him drunk so Lyznick would perform oral sex on him. In an effort to stop the sexual harassment Lyznick even posted sexual harassment awareness posters around the office, but the harassment continued.

The Supervisor involved was Sgt. Charles Dery and he said some pretty troubling statements, if true. For his part Dery denied he sexually harassed anyone, however he ended up resigning after an internal investigation and the county paid almost a million dollars to settle this case so the facts make a pretty strong statement. This type of activity creates a hostile work environment for the employees. Things got so bad for Lyznick that he bought his wife a weapon and posted pictures of Dery around his house so his family would know if he was around. The following quotes show the mindset of this man.

"If someone rolls over on me, I'll put a bullet in his head," Dery was alleged to have said. "I'll drag him out to the desert and bury him in the desert. The desert is a big place and there are lots of places to hide a body."
April 16, 2011

Charlene Miles Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With EEOC

Charlene Miles, who is a former county worker filed a sexual harassment lawsuit alleging former county commissioner David Ridley forced her to have oral sex, constantly subjected her to sexual harassment and viewed pornography on her office computer. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on Miles behalf. Ridley resigned from his position shortly after news of the allegations became public.

According to published accounts Miles said that Ridley continuously made sexual advances and remarks to her for more than a year. In probably the most outragous claim Miles said Ridley forced her to give him oral sex at her trailer. Other forms of sexual harassment included Ridley removing his penis from his pants and taking his hand and reaching up her skirt. This type of behavior also created a hostile work environment for Miles.

April 15, 2011

Sam's Club Settles Hostile Work Environment and National Origin Lawsuit For $440,000

Sam’s Club pays $440,000 to settle a national origin harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of nine employees. The employees of Mexican descent endured ethnic slurs and derogatory remarks by a fellow co-worker who is Mexican-American. The nine victims complained about the hostile work environment to management but nothing was done to stop it. In fact the harassment only intensified and led to intimidation.

The comments about the Mexican's included being called wetbacks and references to Mexicans only being good for cleaning the harasser’s home. The person that was making the comments even threatened to report three of the victims to immigration authorities despite their legal status. The person doing the harassing was finally fired by Sam's Club but only after the EEOC filed the lawsuit.

“A work environment that is free of harassment ensures a more productive and vibrant workplace for all.” said EEOC attorney Anna Park
April 10, 2011

Illinois Firm Pays $8 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

International Profit Associates ("IPA") which operates as a business-development firm will pay $8 million to 82 female employees as part a settlement in a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the female workers. This case has been ongoing for ten years and is a good illustration of how long it can take a case filed with the EEOC to reach settlement.

The EEOC claims the company filed motions intentionally to stall the case and drag it out. Sometimes companies take a strategic position that it is better to drag cases out and wear down their opponents. In this case the EEOC hung tough and the workers stuck around and will receive a nice payday. When this type of activity takes place in the workplace, it also creates a hostile work environment for all workers. IPA is located in Buffalo Grove Illinois and according to its' website has over 1500 full-time workers.

“The decree and the fact that sizable checks are going out to the victims of IPA’s discrimination are signal achievements,”said EEOC attorney Diane Smason and she added “It’s going to be a better day for all the women covered by the decree.”
April 9, 2011

Age Discrimination Lawsuit Settles For $467,165

The Minnesota Department of Human Services ("MDHS") pays $467,165 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of 29 workers. According to published accounts the 29 workers were denied employer contributions for retiree health and dental insurance because they were older than age 55 at the time that they retired. Once a person reaches the age of 40 they become a member of a protect class due to age.

If older workers are treated in a different manner, it may become age discrimination, like it did in this case. You can see how expensive this type of behavior is for a company or in this case state agency. Like the state didn't have anything better to do with taxpayer dollars. In the future I am sure a new plan will be formulated that is not discriminatory in nature.

“The EEOC litigated and won on the issue of the illegality of this incentive plan.” said EEOC attorneyJohn Hendrickson.

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April 5, 2011

Jackson Public Schools Settles Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit

Jackson Public Schools settled a federal lawsuit that was based on allegations that former security chief John Coleman creating a hostile work environment. The person making the claim was Debra Robinson who was the former office manager for Coleman's department.
Robinson initially accused Coleman of creating a hostile work environment based on sexual comments even though he was not engaged in sexual harassment with her. Robinson also accused him of gender discrimination and retaliation, but those claims were dismissed for lack of evidence.

In cases like this, the hostile work environment is created because of some other discriminatory conduct. In this case the conduct was sexual comments directed at other female workers. The amount of the settlement is confidential at this time but because it involves a public entity I am sure it will be released in the future. I am glad that Robinson stuck to her guns and did not let the school disctrict get away with the discrimination that took place.

April 4, 2011

Murphy Healthcare III, LLC Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit For $30,000

There has been a rise in the number of pregnancy discrimination lawsuits my office is seeing. It seems like I am getting calls every day about women having adverse job actions taken against them at work once it becomes known they are pregnant. Here is a recent case that I wasn't involved with but it is interesting and illustrates my point. Murphy Healthcare III, LLC. agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Myesha Kerr.

Published accounts indicate that Kerr was fired after her supervisor learned that she was pregnant. Kerr worked as a housekeeper for the company and during discovery in the case the supervisor said he never would have hired Kerr had he known of her pregnancy, because he believed Kerr might injure herself by working. Sorry to break the news to you Mr. Supervisor but that is illegal and will cost the company you work for money every time you do it.

"The result of the employer’s actions in this case was to deprive a working mother of an income.” said EEOC atttorney Meaghan Shepard


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April 3, 2011

Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit Settled For $25,000

The city of Attleboro paid $25,000 to settle a hostile work environment and racial discrimination lawsuit with Vincent Bailey, an African-American firefighter. Because of the allegations against the city and specifically against the supervising officer, Bailey will not have to report to him in the future. The Sun Chronicle reports there is a gag order in affect and neither side is commenting, however a freedom of information request did get some information. The case was filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ("MCAD") which is similar to the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"), and the federal counterpart the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

According to reports in the Sun Chronicle, allegations include supervisor Perkins making racially based derogatory comments, such as:

"Vinny, while you're here, why don't you shine my shoes?"

These types of comments are not acceptable in the workplace and I am glad to see Mr. Bailey hold the city accountable. There were also five witnesses to the comments so it wasn't just a case of one person's word against anothers. This type of behavior not only makes work difficult for the person who is the target of the comments but it creates a hostile work environment for the other employees. You can imagine how uncomfortable it makes everyone at work.

April 1, 2011

Jury Awards $451,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Kerrry Woods is a happy man today because a jury awarded him $451,000 for his sexual harassment lawsuit against Boh Bros. Construction Co. The iron worker first filed his complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to documents and statements produced during the lawsuit the superintendent flashed him and routinely taunted him about seeming feminine. Most of the time sexual harassment lawsuits involve male-female or female-male harassment, but in this instance the sexual harassment was male-on-male.

Woods first filed an internal sexual harassment and hostile work environment complaint with the company. The company did not take the complaint seriously and after receiving his complaint, the company engaged in retaliation according to Woods. He claims the company transferred him to its another facility where he earned less and had a longer commute. The company laid him off a short time later. As is typical in these types of cases the company said they laid Woods off for business reasons--but the jury wasn't buying it.

Woods said "I knew it wasn't right that the company should be able to treat people this way," "No one should have to put up with that kind of abuse day after day."
March 23, 2011

Former Grayville Illinois Mayor Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $17,500

Former Grayville Illinois Mayor Henry S. Kijonka paid $17,500 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit involving former city employee Shelly Osborne. The city ended up paying the settlement amount which is common in these types of cases. According to published accounts Osborne alleged that on a number of occasions Kijonka came up behind her and kissed her on the neck, massaged her shoulders and reached his hands down the front of her sweater.

A problem that can arise in a case like this is witnesses. Many times the person doing the harassment will do it one-on-one and there won't be anyone to witness what took place. I suspect because of the low settlement amount, that is what happened here. I am glad to see Osborne file a complaint and hold the Mayor accountable. Hopefully, the city puts in place a sexual harassment policy and better supervises its' employees.

Continue reading "Former Grayville Illinois Mayor Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $17,500" »

March 13, 2011

Chiropractor Has Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Him By Two Former Employees

Chiropractor Paul Basile had a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by two former employees. According to the lawsuit Chrisine Gensey and Rosangela Doyle claim he groped them, made sexually suggestive comments and retaliated after they complained. Basile made remarks about Doyle's figure and placed his crotch against her hand when he was giving her a chiropractic adjustment.

According to published accounts both women complained about the sexual harassment but since he was the boss and owner the complaints fell on deaf ears. The lawsuit also has a count for retaliation but from the documents it is unclear what the retaliation is. The complaint does say the sexual harassment created a hostile work environment and the women's careers were negatively impacted and they both ended up losing money.

The lawsuit alleges Basile asked Doyle "where her remote control for her underwear was."
March 12, 2011

University of Cincinnati Sued For Sexual Harassment

Sandra Smith filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the University of Cincinnati ("UC"). Smith was fired last year and was the former Executive Director to The President. Smith is not just suing he University, she is also suing two of its top officials alleging sexual harassment, retaliation and a hostile work environment. According to published accounts, Smith claims UC Executive Vice President Fred Reynolds hugged and kissed her, and made unwanted advances toward her in the office.

Smith first filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") which is required prior to filing a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court. Smith says Reynolds tried to make her look crazy and blamed her allegations of sexual harassment on a "distorted mind" from medication after back surgery. Smith alleges she complained to UC President Greg Williams about the sexual harassment and creation of a hostile work environment but he did not take her allegations seriously. What he did do is give her a negative performance review and fired her.

The University issued a statement which said " We will defend ourselves vigorously in court."
March 8, 2011

Gala AZ Holdings Inc. Sued For Sexual Harassment

A fast food restaurant has been charged with sexual harassment and retaliation. According to published accounts, Gala AZ Holdings, Inc. subjected a female employee to sexual harassment and retaliation according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Andriana Lopez was employed by the restaurant and allegedly she was sexually harassed by an assistant manager. The sexual harassment consisted of the assistant manager fondling himself in her presence, grabbing her buttocks, and attempting to grab her breasts.

Lopez complained to her managers but not only was nothing done to stop the sexual harassment but remarkabely she was suspended and then fired in retaliation for her complaint. This type of behavior seems to be increasing and some employers just don't seem to understand how important it is to properly address a sexual harassment complaint. In this instance, the woman was subjected to a hostile work environment and the company just made things worse.

“Employers who subject people to harassment based on sex are violating federal law,” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O’Neill, "We have seen an alarming increase in retaliation charges, and we are very concerned that employees know that they can report discrimination without repercussions.”
January 25, 2011

United Bank Sued For Hostile Work Environment

Kathy Williams filed a lawsuit against her former employer, United Bank, claiming she was subjected to a hostile work environment. The basis for her lawsuit is that the co-pastor of the church who also worked with her at United Bank treated church members different than non-church members. Williams alleges she and Sammons, who was the co-pastor at the church, often discussed church business at work. Sammons described the other bank employees who also attended the church as protected employees.

The trouble started in May 2009 when Williams quit attending services at the church and in October 2009 she withdrew her membership at the church. Within a very short period of time after withdrawing her membership she was terminated. She is claiming religious discrimination based on her quitting church and then being fired. Prior to being fired, Williams complained to management but nothing was done to correct the hostile work environment.

Williams alleges Sammons said that she was "no longer protected."
January 23, 2011

Trial At The Illinois Human Rights Commission Not The Only Alternative

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment or retaliation you have options after your case has been found to have substantial evidence by the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). You can proceed to trial before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") or you can file a complaint in the circuit court of the county where the discrimination took place. There is an additional tactical consideration. If the basis for the sexual harassment were say events that can also be alleged in a complaint of intentional infliction of emotional distress, you could file a complaint with the IHRC and a separate complaint in the circuit court for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.

The basis for being able to file this additional complaint is found in a variety of court decisions. In Pavilon v. Kaferly, 561 N.E. 2d 1245, 204 Ill. App. 3d 235 (Ill. App. 1 Dist. 1990), the court held that the tort of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress required proof of more than was required for sexual harassment and served a different policy than that served by the Human Rights Act, therefore the claim was not preempted by the Human Rights Act. For this reason one could give consideration to whether there are facts sufficient to file a complaint for trial with the IHRC and also a claim in circuit court for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. Such a claim needs to prove, the conduct involved is truly extreme and outrageous; second, the actor must either intend that his conduct inflict severe emotional distress, or know that there is at least a high probability that his conduct will cause severe emotional distress; lastly, the conduct must in fact cause severe emotional distress.

January 22, 2011

Paul Big M's Grocery Store Must Pay $1.2 Million After Losing Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Big Paul M grocery store must pay $1,260,080 after a jury ruled against them in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to testimony at trial a class of female employees, many of whom were teenagers still in high school at the time, was subjected to a hostile work environment by the store’s general manager for more than 10 years. Details of the sexual harassment included egregious acts of verbal and physical sexual conduct by the company’s general manager, Allen Manwaring.

As an example of the sexual harassment Manwaring suggested a sexual threesome with one teenage cashier’s mother, stuck his tongue in another teenage cashier’s mouth and grabbed and touched the breasts and buttocks of other women. It didn't stop there, Manwaring would also make propositions for sex, make lewd gestures to employees and refuse to stop when asked to do so. Many of the young females could not take it anymore and quit their job. This is often called a constructive discharge.

EEOC attorney Ami Sanghvi said, “The harassment at the store was especially egregious because many of the employees were teenage girls who were harassed by the General Manager, who was engaged to the owner, and felt they had no where to turn for help."
January 19, 2011

EEOC Says Firefighter Sexually Harassed

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") completed its investigation and found a female Houston firefighter was subjected to a hostile work environment based on gender discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation. According to published accounts firefighter Jane Draycott found sexual slurs scrawled on her locker after she complained about workplace conditions. The fire department has denied allegations of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation and the fire department has been unable to find those responsible.

In this case Draycott is not only fighting the city but also the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association ("HPFFA"). The HPFFA is criticizing the EEOC's investigation saying not enough firefighters were interviewed. You would think the union would rally around one of its members when she is being treated in a discriminatory manner. I am glad the EEOC is sticking around and not letting this type of behavior stand. My guess is both parties will want to settle the case at this point and a settlement is probably near.

"There is reasonable cause to believe that the charging party was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her gender and was retaliated against for engaging in a protected activity," the EEOC said.
January 16, 2011

Argentine Township Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $400,000

Argentine Township settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Blythe Amenson for $400,000. According to published details in the lawsuit Amenson was a former lieutenant with the Argentine Township Fire Department working for a little more than two-years. Amenson claimed Fire Chief William Harvey made unwelcome comments that were sexual in nature. The unwelcome conduct and communications created a hostile work environment for Amenson. There obviously was some good evidence or the township would not have paid this large amount of money.

On the retaliation count of the lawsuit Amenson was discharged from her position as lieutenant of the fire department by the fire chief and Argentine Township after being sexually harassed. The reason given for the discharge was for not reaching the fire run count, yet a male firefighter who had a lower run count, remained employed. When an employee complains of sexual harassment and then is discharged for a reason that seems dishonest, a retaliation complaint will usually follow. In this case, the discharge was within a short period of time of the sexual harassment complaint and the motivation for the discharge seemed obvious.

Amerson said "Not wanting to put any negative light on the fire department, as a whole, I miss all those people. The guys have been phenomenal and like family to me.”

January 10, 2011

Fulton County Illinois Treasurer Files Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Fulton County Illinois Treasurer Victoria Harper filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and is seeking to recover lost wages and collect damages in excess of $750,000 from the county. According to published accounts, Harper's salary was set by the board at $58,300 and frozen for the next four years. However, both the Fulton County Clerk and Fulton County Circuit Clerk were both given increases over the same period. Harper is also alleging that various men in management positions treated her in a hostile fashion by yelling at her and making unreasonable demands.

According to the lawsuit demands were made of Harper that were not made of other individuals and that fell outside of the scope of her position. In a case like this, Harper will have to show that she is being treated differently than others because she is a female. The other two clerks in this case are both females which in my opinion will make the issue harder to prove. From what was alleged it sounds like the conduct of the men who yelled at Harper could have also amounted to a hostile work environment.

January 8, 2011

Terry Pearson Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $91,000

The City of Greensboro will pay $91,000 to Terry Pearson to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on his behalf. According to published documents in the case the city failed to hire then 58-year-old Pearson and instead hired three younger candidates. The job was an electronic processes specialist within the city’s 911 Division. The job involved maintenance of the city’s radio communication systems for first responders. Pearson previously owned an electronics repair shop and had other substantial experience in electronics repair and maintenance through various technician jobs. Remarkebly, the city selected three substantially younger applicants, all under age 40, who were not as qualified as Pearson.

The lawsuit was filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") after the city failed to hire Pearson. Additionally several individuals in the case testified that Pearson was rejected because of his age, and specifically, that the hiring manager was concerned Pearson might retire soon after being hired. There was another twist in this case as well. There was an additional claim against the city for failure to preserve records related to hiring for the position. Federal law requires all employers to keep documents related to personnel decisions for at least one year.

This type of behavior exhibited by management can also lead to a hostile work environment for other workers because of the signal it sends to them. When a work force believes management does not want to hire older workers, it must make them wonder what will happen to them once they turn 40.

January 7, 2011

Nancy Lopez Former Parking Authority Clerk Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $300,000

Nancy Lopez who worked as a clerk for the Jersey City Parking Authority settled her sexual harassment lawsuit for $300,000. She alleged that she was sexually harassed by three senior members of management including a director and the assistant CEO. She also alleged that the Director of Enforcement Fernando Picariello engaged in sexual harassment by repeatedly touching her, making sexual advances, touching her buttocks and legs and suggesting that she had nice boobs.

The sexual harassment was bad enough but then Lopez reported the conduct to Chairman Michael Holloway he did nothing to stop the sexual harassment. The other two men involved were Raymond Manzo and David Lerner." Lerner is the assistant chief executive officer and Manzo is an enforcement officer. This type of behavior is scary for a low level worker especially when the men engaging in it are all senior executives. You can tell by the settlement amount that her story was believable. This type of behavior also created a hostile work environment for Lopez and she probablly did not see any way out. As part of the settlement she was forced to resign her position.

"I can't help that people make allegations," Holloway said. "There are two sides of the story."


January 6, 2011

Chicago Area Jewel Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $3.2 Million

Jewel-Osco stores settled a disability discrimination lawsuit for $3.2 million resolving the case which was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s ("EEOC"). The lawsuit stemmed from a store policy of terminating employees with disabilities at the end of medical leaves of absence rather than bringing them back to work with reasonable accommodations. This policy affected almost 1,000 employees in the greater Chicago area who were allegedly terminated under this policy since 2003.

For various reasons not all of the 1000 former employees are eligable to collect part of the money--only 110 former employees will share in the money. The conduct of the company violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). As a result of the lawsuit the policy at Jewel will be revised and this type of activity should not occur in the future. The EEOC did a great job enforcing current law and making sure a large employer did not continue discriminating against its' workforce. This type of behavior by a company also creates a very hostile work environment for employees.

“This very important settlement underscores the EEOC’s commitment to vigorous enforcement of the Americans With Disabilities Act and to ensuring that all workers receive fair and equal treatment in the workplace,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.
January 5, 2011

Car Dealer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

David Chevrolet settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with three employees for $125,000. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the employees who claimed the dealership created a hostile work environment for the salespeople. According to published accounts because of the sexual harassment the two women quit and the man was fired in retaliation when he complained about the hostile work environment.

Details of the sexual harassment and hostile work environment include exposing the two women to pornography, photos of topless women and lewd comments. The male employee claimed he was sexually harassed based on stereotypes of how a man should act, including assigning him a derogatory e-mail address and subjecting him to comments about highlights in his hair and crude sexual comments when it was learned he had a girlfriend.

Chevrolet attorney Hugh Carlin said "the company agreed to settle the claims because of the anticipated substantial expenditure of time and money necessary to successfully defend itself through trial.”
January 1, 2011

Illinois Wal-Mart Sued For Sexual Harassment

Roben Hall filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Wal-Mart and it is headed for a trial before the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") on February 11, 2011. Hall claims she was subjected to sexual harassment while working as an overnight stocker for Wal-Mart. To make matters worse for Wal-Mart they fired Hall and according to published reports have threatened additional legal action against her if she continues with this lawsuit--claiming she is acting in bad faith.

In this case the sexual harassment alleged was between two women. Any sexual harassment can cause a hostile work environment for all workers not just the one being harassed. Also in Illinois one must first file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") before the case ever makes it to the IHRC. Even though the case is scheduled for trial soon, unless a pre-trial statement is filed in advance and neither party files a motion for discovery, the case trial date will only act as a first status hearing and the Judge will set discovery deadlines.

According to Hall, "one manager told her that he didn't have to investigate Hall's complaint because it involved two women."
January 1, 2011

Sexual Orientation and Hostile Work Environments

My Chicago office is getting more and more calls from employees who are being discrminated against based on their sexual orientation. You would not believe the types of comments some employees have to put up with. Many gay employees take a tremendous amount of abuse from some immature and just plain mean people. This type of activity creates a hostile work environment for every employee not just the person being discriminated against.

It the past most of the hostile work environment cases revolved around sexual harassment issues but more and more sexual orientation seems to be taking center stage. It is extremely important for a gay person to realize they don' thave to take this type of treatment. In fact many times the person being called gay and having these types of comments directed at him isn't even gay.

December 30, 2010

Glancy Binkow & Goldberg Sued For Sexual Harassment

Law firm Glancy Binkow & Goldberg is being sued by Ashlee IIewicz, a former employee for sexual harassment and wrongful-termination. According to published accounts right after the holiday party, founding partner Lionel Z. Glancy took employees to a bikini bar named Fantasy Island, paid for their admissions and bought a lap dance for at least one employee. The allegations include claims that female employees at the firm were subjected to a hostile work environment because senior attorneys were always discussing sex in the workplace and making sexual comments.

In what seems to be a remarkable claim, apparently one lawyer posted photographs of naked women on the wall of his office. Ilewicz worked as an investigator at the firm for 14 months before she was fired for complaining about the performance of an attorney and complaining about the hostile work environment. Being fired for complaining about this type of behavior would also rise to the level of retaliation.

"Glancy declined to comment"
December 29, 2010

Subway Franchise Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $55,000

SKMATCH, Inc a franchise for a Subway restaurant pays $55,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC also alleged the creation of hostile work environment because of what happened to two female employees. Published accounts allege that the male assistant manager at the Subway store where Helena Miller worked, subjected her to repeated sexual comments, sexual propositions and name calling and sexual touching.

Miller was only 18 years old at the time she was sexually harassed, and the assistant manager who harassed her was 28. Miller complained to other managers about the sexual harassment but no action was taken in response to her complaints. The harassment was so intolerable that Miller was forced to quit her job in order to avoid being harassed. When an employee quits their job because of discrimination or sexual harassment it is referred to as a constructive discharge. This type of behavior by a member of management not only cost the company money but also bad publicity which will probably cost it customers.

“All workers have the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment,” says EEOC attorney Lynette Barnes, “No one should have to put up with sexual comments or touching in their place of work.”

Continue reading "Subway Franchise Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $55,000" »

December 28, 2010

Cobra Pavers Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

Cobra Pavers pays $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to details which were published Cobra managers subjected female office employees to a hostile work environment and engaged in sexual harassment by telling stories of sexual exploits, making inappropriate sexual comments, and engaging in unwelcome sexual touching.

Sometimes in traditionally male dominated work places this type of activity seems normal, but in fact it is sexual harassment and will cost the company money every time. It is wise for companies to make sure all of their employees are training in what type of behavior is proper and legal under the law. It has been my experience that the more senior managers are the ones that need the most training of discrimination in the workplace.

“Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in any workplace, and the construction industry is no exception,” said EEOC Attorney Robert Weisberg.
December 28, 2010

Crothall Healthcare Pays $88,000 To Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

Crothall Healthcare, Inc pays $88,422 and reinstates a fired employee to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to court documents Crothall Healthcare fired a housekeeping employee after discovering that she was pregnant. This type of behavior is illegal and will usually result in a lawsuit. Employers seem to think that a pregnant employee can't do the same level of work that was performed prior to being pregnant.

In this case, the amount of money is probably double what the housekeeping employee was making per year so you can see how expensive this type of behavior is. Not only will Crothall have to pay over $88,000 but they will have to submit reports to the EEOC for two-years showing they are not engaging in discriminatory behavior. They will also have to provide training for employees and management so this type of activity does not happen in the future. Engaging is this type of treatment of an employee also forms a hostile work environment to all employees.

“Employers cannot refuse to allow women to work based on discriminatory stereotypes about pregnancy. They must treat pregnant women just as they would any other employee,” said Faye Williams, EEOC attorney.
December 27, 2010

TSA Employee Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

John Arndt a former Transportation Security Administration ("TSA") worker was fired by the TSA and filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against the agency--the lawsuit was dismissed because of procedural errors and is being appealed. The thrust of his allegations are that he was fired because he complained about sexual harassment from a female boss and as a result the agency engaged in retaliation against him. Of course there are two sides to every story and the TSA tells a different story. According to published court documents Arndt was a troublesome employee who was fired because he engaged in “harassing,” “irresponsible” and “confrontational” workplace behavior.

In court papers Arndt claims Buffalo TSA managers drummed him out of the agency because he had an affair with a high-ranking Buffalo TSA official and then broke off the affair. This makes up the majority of his retaliation claim in the lawsuit. Arndt said he broke off the affair because he was about to get married. After he told the women it was over she repeatedly called him, seeking to resume the affair. He refused, and the supervisor was promoted to a position above him. He claims this caused a hostile work environment for him and resulted in his termination.

“I filed a complaint of sexual harassment, and the TSA investigator who interviewed me told me, ‘Men don’t get sexually harassed, be a real man,’ ” Arndt said.
December 24, 2010

Kaplan Higher Education Corp. Sued For Discrimination

Kaplan Higher Education Corporation is being sued because it participated in a pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination by refusing to hire a class of black job applicants nationwide. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the class of workers after a lengthy investigation. It a common practice but is one that usually doesn't result in a lawsuit, Kaplan rejected job applicants based on their credit history. This practice has an unlawful discriminatory impact because of race and is neither job-related nor justified by business necessity.

As a result of this practice the company engaged in racial discrimination. This can also create a hostile work environment because of the impact this has on the workplace in general. In order to deny someone a job because of their credit score, one would have to show that a person with poor credit would have a negative impact on their job performance. For example in the banking industry it would probably be okay to not hire a person working with money all day if they had a poor credit score because of the involvement with money.

“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was intended to eliminate practices that serve as arbitrary barriers to employment because of a job applicant’s race,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence.
December 23, 2010

CasaBlanca Casino Pays $60,000 To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

CasaBlanca Casino settled an age discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two sales manager who were over the age of 40. According to documents this office obtained, the two sales managers working at the CasaBlanca Resort & Casino, ages 67 and 55 were informed that their positions were being eliminated.

The problem with that story was the two older sales managers were subsequently replaced by two younger new hires within approximately two months of eliminating their positions. Because they were replaced within a short period of time they were discriminated against due to their age, a direct violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). This type of behavior is not only illegal but it creates a hostile work environment for other employees.

“Notwithstanding, employers should be proactive in reviewing their own procedures and training staff accordingly so that older workers are not treated differently simply because of their age.” said EEOC attorney Anna Park
December 22, 2010

Omnicare Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $195,000

Omnicare, Inc. pays $195,000 to five female workers to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on their behalf. According to published accounts a pharmacy manager engaged in repeated, egregious acts of sexual harassment toward female employees, such as unwelcome touching that included approaching female employees from behind and grinding his crotch on them, and making sexually explicit and demeaning comments to female employees.

The women came forward to reported the conduct to management but nothing was done to stop the sexual harassment and it only got worse. This type of conduct created a hostile work environment for the five women. You would think in a professional atmosphere like a pharmacy this type of behavior would not take place but it seems all to common in todays work environment. I am glad these females came forward and the EEOC was able to settle the case.

“One would think that if any workplace would be free of egregious sexual harassment, it would be a workplace connected to health care -- like a pharmacy,” said EEOC Attorney John Hendrickson.

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December 19, 2010

Spud Seller Inc. Sued For Sexual Harassment

A Monte Vista potato company, Sput Seller Inc. is being sued for sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment for female employees. Five women claim they were the victims of sexual harassment.Spud Seller denied the allegations and is taking the case to trial. The case was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

According to published accounts the supervisor, Mauricio Gaytan tried to kiss female employees and also engaged in other activity the elevated the claim to sexual harassment. The lawsuit alleges that five female workers are victims of sexual harassment by the supervisor, at least as far back as 2004. It alleges the supervisor physically assaulted one female and propositioned her for sex in 2007. Also Spud Seller created the hostile work environment by purportedly allowing Gaytan to harass women and by failing to prevent and correct the situation.

December 18, 2010

Cheesecake Factory Sued For Sexual Harassment

The Cheesecake Factory is being sued for sexual harassment after Michael Knight claims other male line chefs sexually harassed him and the Factory punished him when he complained. Punishing someone because they report sexual harassment is referred to as retaliation and is illegal. According to details in the lawsuit, Knight claims line chefs continually grabbed each others' buttocks and genitalia and simulated sexual intercourse in front of him.

For his retaliation claim he alleges that the company punished him and then fired him after he expressed his discomfort and complained. In what is the most disturbing allegation, somone put a sanitary pad on a serving of meatloaf that Knight was about to prepare for a customer. When Knight showed this to a person in charge, the person just smiled. This type of behavior creates a hostile work environment and obviously resulted in this lawsuit. The Cheesecake Factory settled a similar claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $345,000 last year. In that case the EEOC conclued the evidence:

"overwhelmingly showed that the men suffered sexually abusive behavior, including abusers directly touching victims' genitals, making sexually charged remarks, grinding their genitals against them, and forcing victims into repeated episodes of simulated rape."


December 17, 2010

The EEOC Has Record Number of Discrimination Claims

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") said it received a record 99,922 charges in FY 2010, the highest number of charges in the agency’s 45-year history. The EEOC secured more than $319 million in monetary benefits for individuals which represents the highest level of relief obtained through administrative enforcement in the EEOC’s history. It is clear the EEOC is stepping up enforcement of discrimination throughout the country.

In Illinois if you are the victim of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, or many of the other types of discrimination that create a hostile work environment, you can contact my office to file a charge with the EEOC or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") which automatically cross-files with the EEOC. I prefer to file with the IDHR because they have fewer cases and more staff to handle the cases. Also the state route in my opinion is a much faster way to proceed and have your case resolved. The EEOC does a good job, but just not as good as the IDHR when it comes to a speedy resolution.

“The EEOC is on the path toward rebuilding and on track to make further progress in the upcoming fiscal year to more efficiently and effectively enforce the federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.

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December 15, 2010

Patton Archery Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $21,000

Patton Archery Manufacturing, Inc. will settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $21,000. According to published settlement details, the owner of Patton subjected three female bow sanders, Brenda Maynard, Julie Roberts and Leslie Querio, to a hostile work environment and engaged in sexual harassment of the females. The sexual harassment included telling and disseminating detailed sexual jokes and unwanted physical touching.

Under the terms of the agreement, Patton will also be prohibited from retaliating against any employees for filing a charge of discrimination or participating in the investigation of any charge of discrimination. Because the industry is dominated by males it makes it even harder for females to break into the field. In this case the owner was doing the sexual harassment which puts the employees in a very tough spot. It is always hard to go against the owner of a company but these women hung in there and fought until the end.

“Although the company closed after the EEOC filed its lawsuit, we continued to pursue this case because these three women were harmed and were entitled to relief,” said EEOC attorney Trek Carethers.
December 13, 2010

Waterford Township Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $95,000

Waterford Township settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a female employee in the police department for $95,000. The employee Arlene Hampton, an administrative specialist in the police records division, filed the lawsuit alleging that male supervisors routinely made sexually suggestive statements to her and commented on her body.

According to the lawsuit female employees were referred to as the bra brigade and the bra corps. This type of behavior will always get the employer in trouble and cost them money. It is hard to believe this type of behavior continues. As part of the settlement, Hampton will remain with the police department. Because she is remaining with the department, the payout is lower. It is very important for an individual to come forward immediately if experiencing discrimination or a hostile work environment. This type of activity would form a hostile work environment in Illinois.

Township Director Robert Seeterlin said about training the township will undergo, "That training included how to address a complaint, and how they have to be taken seriously."


December 11, 2010

Securitas Security Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $65,000

Chicago-based Securitas Security Services will pay $65,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Sheilandra Walker. According to published accounts security guard Walker was subjected to sexual harassment by two male guards; one of whom was her supervisor. If someone is sexually harassed by their supervisor there is strict liability to the company.

The two guards subjected Walker to unwelcome sexual comments, gestures and sexual touching. In probably the most troubling details one of the guards engaged in conduct such as licking his lips and grabbing his crotch while staring at Walker’s breasts, and he would physically touch Walker by blocking the door of the guard shack when she tried to leave so that she had to brush up against him. Once the conduct was reported to management nothing was done to stop it. In fact, the company took a negative job action against Walker and this was the basis for the retaliation claim.

“Employees must be free to report harassment without fear of reprisal,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes

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December 9, 2010

Sahara Casino Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $100,000

Sahara Hotel & Casino will pay $100,000 to settle a national origin discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").
According to details which were published as part of the settlement, Sahara 's supervisors and coworkers continuously belittled and harassed Ezzat Elias, whose job entailed maintaining and delivering food to the hotel buffet, because of his Egyptian heritage. Mr. Elias had to endure many hostile work environment type commnets while doing his job. The commnets included, “Go back to Egypt,” “f-----g Egyptian,” and often referred to him as “Bin Laden.”

Elias also endured graffiti in the men’s locker room and elsewhere, targeting him with phrases such as “sand n----r” and “the Taliban must die.” You can imagion how difficult it would be to go to work every day under these types of conditions. Elias made repeated complaints to management about what was going on and management did nothing to stop it. Instead supervisors retaliated against Elias shortly after his initial complaint by increasing his workload, subjecting him to closer scrutiny, formally disciplining and ultimately suspending him.

“Under federal law, employees of all national origins are protected from this type of harassment,” said Anna Park, EEOC attorney.

Continue reading "Sahara Casino Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $100,000" »

December 8, 2010

Steakhouse Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $250,000

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar pays $250,00 to settle a same-sex sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts male employees who worked at Fleming’s were sexually abused by the head chef, Tod Rawson. Rawson frequently pinched or squeezed his subordinates’ private parts, flicked their genitals with his bare hands, and groped them from behind. Employers have a duty to immediately stop sexual harassment when it occurs and in this case not only was it not stopped but it continued for over a year.

Even more shocking details emerged of the hostile work environment as Rawson even used kitchen utensils from the restaurant to touch his victims’ genitals through their clothing. A damning piece of evidence was that several managers at Fleming’s knew what was happening well before formal charges were filed but did nothing to stop it. This leaves management in a position of full liability. Hopefully paying this amount of money will make the company take a hard look at their sexual harassment policy and make the needed changes.

Rayford Irvin, EEOC attorney said, “We want the public to know that sexual harassment isn’t just about misconduct between men and women. It includes sexually abusive behavior between people of the same sex also. Regardless of your gender or anyone else’s, you don’t have to tolerate sexual harassment.”
December 7, 2010

Sexual Harassment and Christmas Parties

Oh tis the season to be jolly, but don't get too jolly at the Christmas (holiday) party. For some reason otherwise good employees get a little liquor in their system and act like damn fools at the Christmas party. I guess some can't handle their liquor or some just don't care. Remember at a Christmas party, lewd and sexual comments are not okay and can form the basis for a sexual harassment complaint. Probably the most damning thing that people do at these parties is sexually harass their co-worker in front of everyone. Talk about leaving some nice evidence.

It is probably a good idea for the boss to remind people that the rules and conduct apply to parties and also the boss should make sure a limited amount of alcohol is available--if any. My office sees a spike in sexual harassment cases after these types of parties and it always amazes me that a better job isn't done by management in that regard. Remember the conduct at a party can also create a hostile work environment. Complaints about sexual harassment or a hostile work environment can be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

December 6, 2010

Custodial Supervisor Settles Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit For $250,000

The Schenectady school district settles a hostile work environment lawsuit for $250,000 with former custodial supervisor Ronald Kriss. According to published accounts Kriss alleged years of on-the-job harassment by his boss, Steven Raucci which resulted in health problems and drove him to an early retirement. Raucci, 61, was arrested and charged with multiple offenses and was found guilty of all but four of 22 counts, including arson, conspiracy and weapons offenses.

The lawsuit alleges Raucci several times attempted to grab Kriss' genitals in what came to be known as the man game. It sounds like Raucci was a very disturbed individual and the fact that the school district employed him for so long had a lot to do with the settlement amount. This type of behavior is well past the norm and ended up costing the district a good deal of money. This type of activity could also have been categorized as sexual harasment.

December 5, 2010

Akai Security Pays $1.62 To Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuits

Akal Security pays $1.62 million to a class of 26 female security guards, settling a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of them by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Details which have been published claim Akal began a nationwide pattern and practice of forcing its pregnant employees, working as contract security guards on U.S. Army bases, to take leave and discharging them because of pregnancy. Akal also engaged in retaliation against one female by filing criminal charges against her because she filed a claim with the EEOC. That type of activity by a company is scarey and I am glad that the EEOC pursued this matter in an agressive fashion.

In addition to that type of behavior, Akal also created a hostile work environment by subjecting the women to less favorable terms and conditions of employment because of pregnancy, including preventing them from completing their annual physical agility and firearms tests or forcing them to take such tests before their certifications had expired. This type of large settlement should send a message to management that this type of behavior will not be tolerated and will be costly. To other companies that wish to hire Akal Security, I hope they will demand that any discrimination does not take place in the future.

“This is a very important settlement that will help protect an entire class of women from discrimination on account of pregnancy,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.
December 1, 2010

LAZ Parking Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit With EEOC For $46,000

LAZ Parking pays $46,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a Muslim woman. According to accounts with have been published LAZ Parking unlawfully subjected a practicing Muslim woman to discrimination when it terminated her because of her religious beliefs and refusing to remove her head covering (hijab).

This type of activity is taking place more and more and there has been a real increase in religious and national origin discrimination. Both of these types of discrimination cause a hostile work environment for employees.

“LAZ Parking worked diligently with the parties in this case to come to a speedy resolution,” said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins. “Going forward, we believe LAZ Parking is sincerely committed to avoiding these types of problems.”
November 30, 2010

Marlow 6 Theater Settles ADA Lawsuit With EEOC for $20,000

Innershore Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Marlow 6 Theater, pays $20,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company unlawfully fired a concession manager because of her disability, Human Immunodeficiency Virus ("HIV"). The theater fired Robin C. Adams when the company became aware that she was HIV-positive. The Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") makes it unlawful to discriminate against a qualified individual because of an actual disability or because he or she had a record of disability or was regarded as disabled.

This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and usually results in a company paying money to settle the lawsuit. It was be good of companies stopped being ignorant about HIV and instead educated management about the facts and allowed employees to do their job without fear and intimidation.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said “It is illegal to treat employees or applicants based upon myths, fears and stereotypes about HIV and AIDS.”
November 16, 2010

McDonald's Pays $50,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

McDonald’s pays $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The case involved an assitant manager sexually harassing a teenage female worker. According to published reports an assistant store manager made lewd comments to a teenaged crew member and touched, spanked and hugged him in a way that made him very uncomfortable.

The crew member was only 16-17 years of age when these incidences took place. This type of behavior can create a hostile work environment for all employees not just the one being harassed.

EEOC attorney Elizabeth Grossman said, “The EEOC takes very seriously allegations of sexual harassment involving teenagers because many of them are in the workplace for the first time and don’t know how to complain, especially when the harasser is their supervisor.”
November 14, 2010

Sexual Harassment Cases Increase In Illinois

My office is seeing an increase in the number of sexual harassment cases in Illinois, particularly in my Chicago office. There may be several reasons for the increase including the downturn in the economy and the pressure employees are feeling to go along with whatever is happening at work or else get fired. Because more of the sexual harassment takes place face-to-face and without witnesses it be extremely frustrating for those getting harassed. This harassment also creates a hostile work environment and can lead to a person quitting.

In Illinois you can file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illiniois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). I prefer the IDHR as they are required by statute to complete their investigation within one year and seem to be better staffed and focused on investigating the complaint. Remember there are very strict time limits for filing and it is very important to contact my office at once to review the facts of your case.

November 13, 2010

Police Officer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $750,000

The city of Concord California settles a sexual harassment lawsuit and will pay $250,000 to former police officer Lisa Capocci and $500,000 in legal fees to her attorney for a total settlement of $750,000. According to published accounts one of Capocci's supervisors, then-Cpl. Michael Hansen, made inappropriate sexual advances toward her. When she complained, Hansen and his colleagues in the department retaliated by filing a half-dozen groundless internal affairs investigations against her.

In probably the most troubling aspect of the case Capocci alleged other officers were slow to back her up on calls. Doing something like that could put her life in danger. After being stripped of her position as a K-9 officer, Capocci quit the department because of the hostile work environment. For the cities part they claim that the internal investigations against her were all legitimate. They point to the fact that Capocci posted pictures on Facebook of a trip to the county fair while she said she was out sick. I think paying that large amount however says it all.


November 12, 2010

Construction Company Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

Cobra Pavers & Engineering, Inc. and Cobra Construction, Inc., pay $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Published reports indicate that Cobra subjected female office employees to a hostile work environment and to sexual harassment. The sexual harassment included telling stories of sexual exploits, derogatory remarks about females, inappropriate sexual comments and engaging in unwelcome touching of a sexual nature by Cobra's managerial agents.

Even though there is constant publicity about sexual harassment and what not to do, there seems to be a never ending stream of cases. Industries that are dominated by males seem to have a hard time adjusting to females and to treating females with respect in the workplace. This type of settlement should send a message and make the owners and management take notice.

"Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in any workplace, and the construction industry is no exception," said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg.
November 11, 2010

Guardsmark Pays $52,500 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Guardsmark LLC pays $52,500 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Danielle Jones and other female guards. According to published accounts Jones was not treated like the males guards because the company listened to customer preferences for male security guards and reassigned Jones and the other female guards to inconvenient, lesser-paying security guard posts.

Even though the company is in business to make money and to serve the needs of its' clients, the company may not engage in discriminatory conduct. This type of behavior is illegal and will end up costing the company cash and goodwill. It is very important to contact an employment lawyer if you believe you are the victim of discrimination in Illinois. This type of behavior can also create a hostile work environment and make the employees life miserable.

“This settlement serves as reminder to businesses that a customer’s preference to be staffed or served by workers of a particular gender is never an excuse to engage in illegal sex discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Jim Sacher.
November 10, 2010

Days Inn Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $50,000

Days Inn Hotel pays $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a spanish speaking female housekeeper. According to published accounts, a supervisor sexually harassed the housekeeper and when she complained to management they did nothing to stop it and even cut her hours.

The sexual harassment created a hostile work environment for the housekeeper. In the complaint it was alleged that the housekeeper was sexually assaulted, including being subjected to an attempted rape by a supervisor. This was a very serious sexual harassment case and I am glad the EEOC was able to help this woman and hold the company and supervisor accountable.

"The EEOC takes extreme forms of sexual harassment, like the attempted sexual assault in this case, extremely seriously," said Nedra Campbell, the EEOC attorney assigned to handle the case.
November 9, 2010

Cactus Grill Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

The Cactus Grill will pay $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit involving a former teenage employee. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the female employee. According to published reports, an assistant manager asked the 18-year-old female server for sex, touched her and made unwelcome sexual advances toward her. It is also alleged that the Cactus Grill had received complaints about the assistant manager before and did nothing to correct or stop his behavior.

After the female reported the sexual harassment, she claims it did not stop and resulted in a hostile work environment. She felt unsafe and uncomfortable at work so she quit. When this happens it is called a constructive discharge and can be a separate discrimination complaint. Cactus Grill is owned by Northstar Inc.

“The young woman told the restaurant that she did not want to return to work,” said Paul Pautler, Northstar’s attorney.
November 1, 2010

Northern Illinois Based Maxwell House Sued For Gender Discrimination

The Maxwell House Coffee headquartered in Northern Illinois is being sued for gender discrimination for subjecting a female employee at its Jacksonville, Fla., coffee plant to discriminatory terms and conditions. The company allegedly also disciplined and terminated Francena Smith on the basis of her gender. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Smith. According to published accounts Smith was disciplined more harshly that her male co-workers when they were involved in incidents where coffee was damaged, and was then fired because of her gender.

An arbitrator ordered Smith reinstated in March 2010, however she did not receive any monetary damages. This can happen with arbitration and it does not affect the ongoing litigation. It puts the company in a tough spot because they are being sued by a person who is working for them. This also can create a hostile work environment and can be tricky for the person who was just ordered back to work.

“Subjecting a person to different standards and discipline simply because of the person’s gender is just plain wrong,” said EEOC Acting District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas.
October 28, 2010

Rally's Hamburgers Settles Teenage Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

Rally's Hamburger's will pay $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published reports at least one former Rally's Hamburger's manager violated federal law by sexually harassing teenage females. The manager subjected teenage female employees to unwelcome sexual comments, advances and groping. The manager did not stop there, according to published accounts the manager also assaulted one teenage female.

This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and makes working tough for all employees. When there are female teenage workers and older male supervisors, the owners of the company must take extra steps to ensure there is not sexual harassment going on. Because the teenage workers are not experienced, they may be more apt to not report the sexual harassment or to go along with it.

October 26, 2010

Calista CEO Matthew Nicolai Sued For Sexual Harassment

Former Calista CEO Matthew Nicolai is being sued for sexual harassment. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by employee Emily Davenport and alleges Nicolai stalked her and used his position to professionally harm her after she broke off their year-long relationship in 2009. Davenport held a high ranking position and was the former president of Calista subsidiary Solstice Advertising. According to published accounts she was put on leave a week after she complained about the sexual harassment and then fired. Being fired for reporting sexual harassment is retaliation and it is illegal if proven.

Davenport said the company fired her under false pretenses, citing lackluster job performance. She also alleged that other members of Calista management were aware of Nicolai's relationship with her and that she broke it off. This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and is also part of the lawsuit. The fact that the company fired Nicolai shows the board must feel Nicolai was doing something wrong.


October 25, 2010

County Auditor Sued For Sexual Harassment

Leanna Fannon, a Platte County worker is suing the county auditor for sexual harassment,creating a hostile work environment and retaliation. Fannon worked in the county’s human resources office for fourteen years and currently works as a payroll specialist. According to published accounts she claims Auditor Siobhann K. Williams, a female, began making unwanted sexual advances toward her three years ago. The sexual harassment included comments about Fannon’s clothing and appearance. Additionally Williams at one point sent her flowers.

Fannon rejected the advances and told Williams she was married. For his part Williams is denying the claims. The claim of retaliation is based on the fact that Williams questioned Fannon's job performance and the Platte County Commission demoted Fannon. This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and resulted in the County Commission getting named in the lawsuit as well as Williams. Williams is also up for re-election.

“The allegations she is making are absolutely untrue and I am not a lesbian,” Williams said. “The timing is interesting because it is two weeks before I am up for re-election.”


October 23, 2010

Sony Settles Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuit For $20,000

Charles Morgan IV, will receive $20,000 from Sony Music Holdings Inc to settle a sexual harassment and sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit. Morgan worked at the compact disc and digital media manufacturing facility for about 1.5 years and filed his lawsuit alleging he had been the target of comments from co-workers because he is homosexual. This type of discrimination is called discrimination based on sexual orientation.

According to published accounts of the lawsuit Morgan alleged co-workers made offensive comments about his sexual preference on more than one occasion and he was the subject of graffiti written on machinery and a men's room wall. Morgan alleged he was denied a promotion from his part-time status to full-time as a result of retaliation from his employer for making a complaint over discriminatory treatment. Morgan also claims all of these actions resulted in the creation of a hostile work environment.

A short time later Morgan claimed a co-worker told him "you're too gay to sit here."
October 21, 2010

McDonald's Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $50,000

McDonald’s pays $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to details that are published, McDonald’s unlawfully subjected an employee to sexual harassment. The details include an assistant store manager making lewd comments to a teenaged crew member and that he touched, spanked and hugged him in a way that made him very uncomfortable. The employee was only 16-17 years of age at the time.

This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and is illegal. I am glad the EEOC held McDonald's accountable for the actions of its management team. At fast food restaurants, many employees are young and may seem easy to take advantage of. McDonalds needs to put better protections in place so this doesn't happen in the future.

Adela Santos, the EEOC trial attorney assigned to the case, added, “We are very pleased that McDonald’s agreed to settle this case without protracted litigation and that it is taking steps to prevent future workplace discrimination."
October 20, 2010

Austin Foam Plastics Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $600,000

Austin Foam Plastics pays $600,000 to settle a racial discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Austin Foam subjected African-American employees to a racially hostile work environment, subjecting two male employees to a sexual harassment and fired one employee for opposing and reporting the discrimination and harassment.

The pubished accounts allege the harassment included black employees being routinely subjected to discriminatory intimidation, racially offensive comments, insults, cartoons and jokes. A female manager sexually harassed male employees by subjecting them to unwelcome sexual comments and unsolicited physical contact of a sexual nature. She also offered more favorable terms of employment to those males who went along with her sexual harassment and punished those that didn't.

“The law requires employers to take reasonable steps to prevent and to correct racial and sexual harassment,” said David Rivela, EEOC attorney.
October 18, 2010

Forrest City Grocery Sued For Gender Discrimination

Forrest City Grocery Company is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for gender discrimination for not promoting a female worker, Amanda McMillan because of her gender. McMillan worked as a clerical employee then applied to an outside salesperson position but was denied solely because of her gender. Additionally, the company refused to pay her what it paid male employees performing comparable duties.

In cases like this, it is easy to determine the facts as far as pay is concerned. One only need to review the checks of the males and Amanda McMillan and they were either paid more than her or they weren't. This type of discrimination can lead to a hostile work environment.

“Remarkably, some employers still believe women should be excluded from certain types of work simply because of their gender,” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, EEOC attorney. “This is not just bad business, it is illegal.”
October 17, 2010

Hostile Work Environment In Illinois

My office gets many calls from employees who believe they are working in a hostile work environment and need advice. In Illinois the hostile work environment needs to be based on a protected category. Another words if the boss is just a jerk or a loud mouth and isn't discriminating based on a protected category, there is no protection. On the other hand if you are the victim of sexual harassment, or being discriminated against based on race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, marital status, veteran status, or citizen status, and you believe a hostile work environment exists as a result, you have protection.

The important things to do are first follow your company policy on reporting discrimination which will include reporting it to human resources or other management. Second, cooperate with any investigation. Third, speak with an attorney to make sure your rights are protected. Depending on what the company does will affect your next steps. In all cases however make sure you continue to come to work on time, be a good employee and do your job. Don't give the company a legitimate reason to fire you.

October 16, 2010

Former Human Resource Manager Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $600,000

Debbie McPherson, human resource manager for the County settled her sexual harassment lawsuit for $600,000. According to the lawsuit she claimed top officials knew or should have known about sexual harassment directed toward her that was occuring in the Planning Department. The sexual harassment included the deputy director who sent pornography from his work computer and bragged about his supply of a sexual-performance drug.

Once McPherson came forward with her complaint, she was laid off from her $101,000-a-year position. Prior to being laid off and in what she believes was retaliation for complaining , her entire staff was moved to another floor, then reassigned. This type of behavior is usually not coincidence. In her lawsuit she claimed the formation of a hostile work environment and this type of settlement shows the other side agreed.

McPherson is now working in a similar job in Las Vegas.

"I have a marvelous job to go to. I can put this behind me. I couldn't be more delighted," McPherson.
October 7, 2010

Concrete Company Pays $325,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Concrete company Bardon, Inc. pays $325,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Bardon created and maintained a hostile work environment for Ora L. Borrell -- the only female quality control technician employed at the company.

The sexual harassment included repeated public urination in her presence, overt and explicit sexual comments and requests, touching and grabbing against her will and other sexually offensive conduct while on the job. This type of activity at work is against the law and will cost a company money each and every time. Borrell’s managers were aware of the sexual harassment because they witnessed some incidents. Borrell was subsequently fired by the company’s human resources department in retaliation for opposing these discriminatory practices.

“Sexual harassment continues to be a persistent problem 45 years after the enactment of Title VII, which prohibits gender discrimination in employment,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
October 6, 2010

Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit Because Of Race-Based Preferences

The United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit issued a ruling regarding what constitutes a hostile work environment. In Chaney v. Plainfield Healtcare Center, the 7th Circuit ruled a nursing home which had a policy of honoring a patient's racial preferences is not required to do so by law and therefore can be sued for creating a hostile work enivornment for it's workers. It is crazy that in this point in our country's history we still have companies and people who are acting like it's 1700. You would think people have evolved to the point where they don't have to discriminate like this.

The problem started when black nursing assistant Brenda Chaney did not help a patient because the patient did not want any black people helping her. Chaney claimed that the healthcare center rules on racial preferences caused her to become depressed. Chaney sued the healthcare center but the district court dismissed the case after granting summary judgment in favor of the healthcare center. The 7th Circuit reinstated the lawsuit and my guess is the parties will now settle. Aside from creating a hostile work environment, the company probably engaged in racial discrimination from the behavior as well.

"The policy puts Plaintfield at risk of violating duties of medical care that it owes its residents" Judge Ann Claire Williams said.

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October 3, 2010

Williams Sausage Sued For Hostile Work Environment and Racial Discrimination

Williams Sausage sued for racial discrimination by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of an African-American maintenance worker who was paid less than others. The EEOC also alleged that Williams Sausage subjected him to a hostile work environment because of the discriminatory acts and this led to him quitting. What an employer forces an employee out of a job it is referred to as a constructive discharge.

According to published documnets, Williams Sausage gave raises and paid higher salaries to all maintenance department employees except the department’s lone African-American employee and allowed a supervisor to regularly use racially offensive language toward the employee because of racial animus. It is hard to believe that this type of behavior still exists but sadly it does. It takes vigilence and hard work to ferret out these types of companies and to protect the rights of all employees.

“Sadly, race discrimination continues to exist in the workplace where workers are paid less and subjected to harassment. Addressing such conduct remains a priority for the Commission,” said Katharine W. Kores, EEOC attorney.

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October 1, 2010

Human Resource Manager Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $600,000

Former human-resources manager Debbie McPherson who alleged sexual harassment by male managers in the Planning Department settled for lawsuit for around $600,000. McPherson, a 27-year county employee, filed her lawsuit alleging top officials knew or should have known about misconduct in the Planning Department, including a deputy director who sent pornography from his work computer and bragged about his supply of a sexual-performance drug. McPherson was making $101,000 per year and was laid off shortly after complaining to upper management about sexual harassment in the office.

After being laid off McPherson was only able to find a job paying half of what she was earning at the County. The lawsuit not only alleged sexual harassment but also the creation of a hostile work environment. The details of this case really get weird. Then Planning Director Craig Ladiser allegedly exposed himself on a golf course to a female and he wasn't fired. McPherson claims this shows how the County feels about Ladiser and how they treat women.

"I have a marvelous job to go to. I can put this behind me. I couldn't be more delighted," McPherson said.
September 28, 2010

Roberts Truck Center Sued For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Roberts Truck Center is being sued for sexual harassment and retaliation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")on behalf of a class a female workers. According to published accounts of the sexual harassment, a co-worker employed by Roberts subjected Katherine Abernathy and a class of women, including at least three others, to sexual harassment. When the EEOC files a lawsuit based on a class of discriminated workers, there is usually a very good case. In this instance I believe this case is going to cost Roberts a great deal of money to settle.

Published documents allege the women were subjected to sexual comments, sexual innuendo and unwelcome touching of their bodies, which created a hostile work environment for them. Additionally, Abernathy suffered retaliation with respect to sales opportunities and in the terms and conditions of her employment because she opposed the sexual harassment. Abernathy was fired because she opposed the unlawful employment practices which is referred to as retaliation.

"Our investigation revealed that a co-worker of these women was permitted to harass them and Roberts Truck Center managers did not act promptly to provide corrective relief,” said EEOC attorney Rayford Irvin
September 26, 2010

IHOP Pays $105,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Two waitresses who were sexually harassed by a manager when they worked at the International House of Pancakes ("IHOP") were awarded $105,000 by a jury in their sexual harassment lawsuit. Both women were teenagers when they worked at IHOP and their manager Rosalio Gutierrez sexually harassed them. According to their testimony at trial both women complained about comments, touching and sexual propositions by the manager. Gutierrez has since left IHOP and his current occupation is not known.

The restaurant did nothing to Gutierrez and fired one of the females. This type of behavior is not only wrong but ended up costing the company a great deal of money. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the two females. This type of behavior also creates a hostile work environment for all employees.

September 23, 2010

Dentist Sued For Sexual Harassment

Smile Brands a dental company was sued for sexual harassment by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit two female employees were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment and to sexual harassment by the lead dentist David Mikitka. The lawsuit claims dental hygienist Deanna Chaney and dental assistant Jan Pawelek were subjected to unwanted sexual conduct shortly after they started working.

The sexual harassment included unwanted sexual comments, touching and making sexual comments about female patients. Pawelek and Chaney repeatedly told the dentist to stop his unwanted sexual behavior but he ignored their multiple requests. Once the dentist refused to stop the sexual harassment both women complained to management but management failed to conduct a proper investigation and to stop the harassment. This type of behavior is not appropriate in the workplace and will probably result in a settlement that will cost the dental company a substantial amount of money. Also the negative publicity will cost the dental company business as most females will not want to have their dental work performed in such an environment.

“A medical or dental office is a place where both employees and patients should feel safe from sexually-charged comments or assessments,” said EEOC Attorney Robert Canino
September 20, 2010

Sooner Copy Machines Pays $97,000 in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Joy Savoia won $97,000 this week from a federal jury in her sexual harassment, and hostile work environment lawsuit against Sooner Copy Machines Inc. and owner John Miller. According to published records, Savoia accused Miller of making repeated sexual advances to her at work. She only worked 13 days on the job, because she confronted Miller about his inappropriate actions. It turns out that was an expensive 13 days for Sooner Copy Machines.

Cases like this are usually supported with witnesses who can back up the statements of the person complaining of sexual harassment. In this case there were others who came forward and supported the claim. I hope Sooner Copy Machines learns a valuable lesson and puts better policies in place. I am sure they could have settled this case for less money before trial and should have.

"We established a pattern of behavior,” said attorney Gowens
September 17, 2010

Illinois Company Roadway Express Pays $10 Million To Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Roadway Express and YRC, Inc. will pay $10 million to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to details which have been published, the company subjected black employees at its Chicago Heights, Ill., and Elk Grove Village, Ill., facilities to a racially hostile working environment and racial discrimination in terms and conditions of employment. There seems to be an increase in discrimination cases in the Chicago area and in Illinois.

The EEOC claimed black employees were subjected to multiple incidents of hangman’s nooses, racist graffiti, racist comments, and racist cartoons. Additionally black employees were subjected to harsher discipline and scrutiny than their white counterparts. Discipline for employees should be the same and when an entire class of employees is disciplined differently, it usually means there is some discrimination taking place.

“No one should have to endure degrading racial harassment in order to earn a living,” said P. David Lopez, General Counsel of the EEOC.
September 14, 2010

Television Station Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

A gender discrimination and age discrimination lawsuit against television station KMBC has been settled. The lawsuit was filed by Kelly Eckerman, Peggy Breit and Maria Albisu-Twyman alleging a pattern of discrimination and harassment of veteran female reporters. According to documents filed in the lawsuit the station’s atmosphere has transformed over time, from one of cooperation into a hostile work environment, permeated with threats, intimidation and disrespect.

The lawsuit paints a pretty nasty picture for the work environment at KMBC. Another claim in the lawsuit was that even unaffected newsroom employees have commented about the publicly humiliating and degrading treatment of women over 40. Sounds like KMBC has a lot of work to do internally. It is unusual for a high profile television show to have these sorts of employment issues. The three woman in this case stood up for their rights and didn't back down to the big corporation. The details of the settlement are unknown but the woman continue to work at the station.

A statement issued by KMBC described the resolution as “amicable” and said that it had come “after some open and frank conversation” between the women and station management.
September 4, 2010

Chrysler Pipefitter Awarded $4.2 Million In National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit

A Rockford Illinois federal court jury found in favor of pipefitter Otto May and ordered Chrysler to pay $4.2 million to the 60-year-old. According to court testimony May endured years of harassment based on his national origin. The harassment included hateful graffiti and death threats over his Jewish and Cuban-American ethnicity. Additionally, May had his tires shredded in the parking lot by co-workers as part of the ongoing harassment. He was even denied the same overtime opportunities as other similarly situated employees.

The jury listened to the evidence for a week and awarded May $709,000 in compensatory damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages. It is nice to see someone stand up and fight back when they are being discriminated against at work. This type of discrimination at work creates a hostile work environment and makes it difficult to function.

Mr. May showed extraordinary courage and determination which paid off in the end. This case should act as a warning to companies who refuse to protect workers when they are being subjected to harassment of any kind. Congratulations Mr. May.

"I'm glad the jury believed me," said May


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August 25, 2010

Hospital Sued For Sexual Harassment--Gives New Meaning To Bedside Manner

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Garfield Medical Center alleging the hospital allowed a male worker to sexually harass an entire class of female workers. According to reports which were published, the sexual harassment included inappropriate touching and rubbing of body parts, propositions for romantic dates and sex-for-pay, graphic discussions of sexual activities, vulgar comments regarding female employees’ body parts, and even obscene comments regarding underage patients at the facility.

In an even more shocking revelation Garfield terminated an employee because she complained about the sexual harassment, while others were compelled to quit rather than endure the severely hostile work environment. When a worker is forced to quit because of a hostile work environment, it is called constructive discharge. This type of behavior by a large employer is sure to cost them plenty. I am glad the workers who are being sexually harassed decided to stand up and fight. This case will be followed closely and the results will be posted.

“The facts of this case are truly disturbing,” said Anna Y. Park, EEOC attorney. “While hospitals and health care facilities tend to focus on patient care, federal law requires them to protect their employees as well from harassment and sexual abuse.”
July 29, 2010

ServiceMaster and Terminix International Sued For Sexual Harassment

Terminix International and Service Master are being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment. In addition to the claims of sexual harassment the EEOC is also alleging the companies subjected their employees to a hostile work environment. In the lawsuit it is alleged that Terminix and ServiceMaster permitted a class of female employees to be repeatedly sexually harassed by a supervisor. The sexual harassment included repeated sexual comments by a supervisor directed at a class of female employees. Lawsuits like this tend to settle for big amounts because of the number of people involved.

According to published accounts a supervisor suggested to the female employees that they come to work not wearing a top. The same supervisor told the women to wear nothing but Vaseline. When you make comments like that, it is hard to plan a good defense. This supervisor also made repeated comments to female employees telling them that they could be strippers and could give him lap dances.

“Employers who subject individuals to harassment based on sex are violating federal law,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC.
July 22, 2010

Construction Company Sued For Hostile Work Environment

Mike Enyart & Sons, a construction company is sued for racial discrimination and illegally firing an employee who complained about the conduct. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed the lawsuit on behalf of Mareo Allen an African-American. According to accounts that were published, Allen was subjected to a hostile work environment based on his race, when he worked for the company on a sewer line installation project. While working on that project co-workers and a foreman repeatedly used racially offensive slurs and epithets to Allen and other black persons, including n----r, black boy and colored boy.

The company failed to stop the discrimination and prevent the hostile work environment. In a crazy statement the company told Allen he could only stay employed if he agreed not to pursue his discrimination claims. When Allen refused to withdraw the discrimination claims, the company terminated him in retaliation for his opposition to the racial harassment.

“It is appalling that the company not only condoned the vile and offensive racial epithets made to Mr. Allen, but actually warned him that he had to drop his complaints about the racial harassment in order to keep his job,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence
June 25, 2010

Oak Tree Inn Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $75,000

Lodging Enterprises LLC of Arizona, which does business as Oak Tree Inn in Yuma, will pay $75,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawuist Oak Tree Inn threatened employees with reprisals of reducing their hours or otherwise forced them to engage in a particular religious prayer ceremony in spite of their personal different religious views. The defendant, through its general manager, Carlos Paredes, derided certain religious beliefs of some of the employees, the EEOC said. He also attempted to impose his personal religious beliefs on employees. The unlawful discrimination created a hostile work environment and denied employees reasonable accommodation for their religious beliefs.

The lawsuit involved twelve employees and they will all share in the settlement amount. Theresa Hurtado was one of the employees and she was one of the driving forces behind filing the discrimination complaint with the EEOC. There seems to be more employers engaging in crazy conduct in the workplace. I believe some of this may have to do with the bad economy and a feeling that employees will put up with any behavior to keep their jobs. Good for these twelve employees.

EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill said, “Employees have a right to their own religious beliefs or no religious beliefs. Employees should never be subjected unwillingly to a supervisor’s religious views."
June 22, 2010

Four Points Sheraton Sued For Discrimination Based On National Origin

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a lawsuit against the Four Points by Sheraton in Phoenix, of discriminating against an employee by subjecting him to a hostile work environment because of his Iraqi national origin. According to details of the lawsuit the man was subjected to continued and escalating workplace harassment and he was forced to resign as a result of the discriminatory conduct.

The employee Basil Massih was subjected to harassment which included mimicking Massih’s accent, ethnic slurs such as “camel jockey,” mocking Arab ululations, and taunting and jeering at Massih relating to news stories about Iraq and the capture of terrorists. The lawsuit alleges that Massih complained to a number of managers about the national origin harassment, but that management failed to take corrective action, and that the continued harassment resulted in intolerable working conditions for Massih.

“Employers have an affirmative duty to protect employees from discrimination and harass­ment,” said Mary Jo O’Neill EEOC attorney.“
June 16, 2010

Lumber Supplier Biewer Cutting More Than Wood: Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $55,000

Biewer sawmill will pay $55,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that took place as a result of inappropriate behavior at its Wisconsin sawmill. According to the lawsuit Biewer failed to prevent a sexually hostile work environment and sexual harassment. The sexual harassment occured to two female employees who will split the money. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")on behalf of the two women.

The lawsuit alleged a Biewer supervisor repeatedly exposed himself to female employees over several years. The company didn't fire the supervisor until prosecutors charged him with lewd and lascivious behavior. It is really crazy that the company would allow a man like this to continue working even after he behaved in this fashion. It took criminal charges to finally make the company see the light. It was good the female employees hung in there and fought for their rights.

June 13, 2010

Filing A Sexual Harassment Complaint With The Illinois Department of Human Rights

My website lasorsalaw.com generates many inquires about sexual harassment cases in Illinois and throughout the country. Even though I have videos on the website to walk people through the steps of filing a lawsuit or complaint regarding sexual harassment, people still have many of the same questions. I hope to answer a few here with this general post. The first decision a person must make is whether to file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). With the IDHR, a person has 180 days from the date of the last sexual harassment to file a complaint, with the EEOC the person has 300 days to file a complaint of sexual harassment.

Another factor to consider is whether or not you wish to file a lawsuit in state court, federal court or have an administrative law judge at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") decide your case. Having the IHRC decide the case is the least expensive but may take the longest. Federal court is the quickest route to take but it is also the most difficult, expensive and employment law on the federal level favors employers in my opinion. It is important to discuss all options with attorney Peter LaSorsa and see which one works best for your situation. Sometimes the amount of time since the last date of sexual harassment will dictate which way to proceed. For example if you wait 200 days to contact my office, we will have no choice but to file with the EEOC.

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May 22, 2010

Cactus Grill Sued For Sexual Harassment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of Amanda Heschmeyer against Cactus Grill Inc. According to the lawsuit an assistant manager at the restaurant asked 18-year-old Heschmeyer for sex, touched her and made unwelcome sexual advances toward her. Those types of actions create a hostile work environment and because of that type of environment, Heschmeyer was forced to quit her job which is known as constructive discharge.

The assistant manager no longer works for Cactus Grill Inc. and that will be bad news for the Cactus. The reason it is bad news, is because since he no longer works for the company, he is in a position to tell the truth and not worry about losing his job, since he already lost it. Many times companies end up in a bad position because the person who did the sexual harassment gets terminated and becomes a good witness for the complainant.

“Sexual harassment in the workplace is always wrong, but harassment of teenage workers, who are often in their first ‘real’ job, is even more egregious,” said James Neely, EEOC district director.


May 21, 2010

Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders Sued For Sexual Harassment

Colleen Vesper filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Gary Moore and the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation. According to the lawsuit Moore and the Foundation made Vesper work in a hostile work environment after she refused Moore's sexual and romantic advances. Vesper had been the business manager of Fairmount Park until she lost her job last year. She claims the underlying sexual harassment issue led to the loss of her employment.

Prior to filing a lawsuit in either federal or state court, a person must first file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). It is nice to see people stand up and take a position and not let their bosses push them around. We wish Colleen Vesper the best.

April 12, 2010

Mayors Administrative Assistant Gets $50,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The administrative assistance to former Mayor Gary Becker’s will receive $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit she filed. According to the discrimination complaint she worked in a hostile work environment because of the sexual harassing nature of the comments and acts of the Mayor. She also claimed retaliation because she was terminated for filing a complaint about the sexual harassment.

The settlement amount includes $20,000 for compensatory damages, $5,000 for past wages and $25,000 for attorney fees. In cases like this, where one man has so much power, lawyers will often advice the party to settle. If this case were to go to trial and if the facts alleged were proven, the damages would easily be in the six figure range.

April 8, 2010

Male Deputy Awarded $350,000 In Sexual Harassment Case

Deputy Robert Lyznick was awarded $350,000 in his sexual harassment lawsuit after complaining that his male supervisor sexually harassed him for several months. In the lawsuit Lyznick sued the county and former Sgt. Charles Dery who was the supervisor of Lyznick. In a strange twist to the story, Dery countersued Lyznick and two others but he did not prevail in his lawsuit. Some of the allegations in the lawsuit include Dery asking Lyznick if he had ever engaged in oral sex with a man and told him to bend over for a rectal examination. This type of behavior would create a hostile work environment.

The final straw for Lyznick happened when he was getting dressed in the locker room and Dery slipped a finger into his underwear and touched the deputy's rear end. There were other officers who came forward and also complained about Dery and the Judge believed the testimony of them in this case. The sexual harassment lawsuit started in a wierd manner as it was originally a jury trial but both sides were having trouble picking a jury and agreed to have a bench trial and let the Judge decide the issue.

"He wanted to sue the county for money and get rid of Dery," The County's Attorney said.