Federal Lawsuit Alleges Charleston County Failed to Protect Paramedic From Sexual Harassment

When Kristin Hammond was sexually harassed while trying to perform her job as a paramedic, she reacted immediately with verbal reprimands. When it happened multiple times, she reported the behavior. She says nothing was done to protect her or other employees who were experiencing the same kind of abuse.

The first incident occurred when the Crew Chief slapped her buttocks as she walked past him after clocking in. Another time, he grabbed her breast, and yet another time he placed his hands on her hips and thrust himself at her in a sexual manner. Ms. Hammond tried to press criminal charges against Crew Chief Malcolm DeFleice, but the charges were dropped without her permission.

Not Part of the Job

After Ms. Hammond started her pursuit of justice, she says other female employees came forward detailing the same kind of complaints. According to the lawsuit, Mr. DeFleice exhibited an ongoing pattern of sexual harassment over a period of five and a half years, during which time he suffered no consequences for his actions.

Not only that, Charleston County Emergency Medical Services (CCEMS) offered no sexual harassment training for supervisors or employees until after Ms. Hammond had filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). There were no policies prohibiting sexual harassment, no policies on how to deal with sexual harassment, and no education on sexual harassment within the organization.

According to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, sexual harassment against emergency personnel isn’t just a problem women face. When a work environment is rife with interpersonal strife and unpleasant behavior, it causes problems for everyone within the organization. This is a particularly serious problem in an environment like emergency services where individuals depend on each other in sensitive and stressful situations.

Never Again

Ms. Hammond hopes that by filing a lawsuit she can keep these kinds of situations from happening again. What happened in the CCEMS could happen anywhere if the people involved aren’t aware of their rights and responsibilities toward others. The kind of behavior directed toward women in the organization didn’t just affect them, but their families and communities.

When It’s Child Abuse It’s Never Too Late

The statute of limitations has been met, simply meaning no criminal charges can be filed from that point forward, but for at least a few men justice exceeds punishment. So far, five men have come forward to claim child abuse charges and they hope that the expiration of criminal litigation doesn’t mean an expiration on getting justice.

Stories like the one from the Greenwich Time broke in early March, reporting the allegations made by these men, now in their late 40’s to early 50’s in a suit filed against the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich. According to the filings, the abuse occurred from 1975 to 1984, during which time multiple acts of abuse allegedly took place.

According to court documents, one of the primary perpetrators of the abuse was Andrew Atkinson, who was a member of the club that later became a counselor. Based on the allegations, Atkinson abused the boys as a member and that abuse became more severe once he acquired a leadership role. While the charges are disturbing, to say the least, Atkinson has made a statement and claims to be innocent of any and all charges in the civil suit.

The Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich has also stepped forward to assure children, parents and the public that they actively take and continue to take every necessary precaution to protect their children. Based on statements made by the club, they employ cameras, background checks and other measures to ensure the safety of the children. That is great news today but what about these men? What about all the cases of yesterday?

A well-known fact about child abuse stated in another story said, “… most incidents involving the sexual abuse of a minor go unreported.” These brave men, all these years later, are not letting their unheard reports as children continue to go unheard. If found guilty, these alleged crimes won’t receive a criminal penalty due to the aforementioned statute of limitations. What will happen, however, is that they will be acknowledged and the voices of those children will finally be heard.

We can’t undo a crime, but we can listen, we can make it better and hopefully, we can heal.

Android Inventor Accused of Sexual Misconduct Gets $90 million in Severance and $150 Million Stock Grant

According to a lawsuit, Alphabet Chief Executive Officer Larry Page gave Andy Rubin, creator of Android, a $150 million stock grant without getting any board approval. The company is accused of covering up his alleged misconduct when he left the company in October 2014. At the time of his leaving, Page said that he wished Andy the best in a public statement.

Page did get approval for the compensation package from the board committee over a week after granting the payout to Rubin. In addition to the stock grant, he also received a $90 million severance package.

Allegations in the lawsuit pull Page into the controversy that surrounds how Google handled the sexual harassment complaints against Rubin. Usually, the Alphabet co-founder stays behind the scenes and Google CEO Sundar Pichari deals with the criticism of the company culture. Inventors claim that the board failed in its duties by allowing the harassment to happen and approved the big payouts while keeping the details private. The complaint targets top committee members and executives, including the Alphabet Chief Legal Officer.

An employee had accused Rubin of sexual misconduct. The woman was having an extramarital affair when he forced her into performing oral sex while in a hotel room in 2013. Google investigated the claim and concluded that the claim was credible.

Instead of just firing him and paying him nothing on the way out, he was awarded a huge settlement and that’s what the plaintiffs are complaining about. Rubin’s settlement was paid in installments of about $2 million a month for four years. The last payment ended in November 2018. The lead lawyer has said that their own investigation showed there was harassment, but there were still large payouts.

The complaint was made public in March 2019 at a California state court in San Jose. The suit was originally filed in January, but some claims were blocked from the public.

After news of this, the company was pressured to make changes last year. Tens of thousands of Google workers walked out of work in November to protest how the company handled the sexual misconduct claims. Google has promised to be more forceful in handling these cases.

Walmart Faces Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Recently, nearly 100 current and former workers filed suit Walmart, the world’s largest retailer. They are alleging unequal pay and lack of opportunity. Just eight years ago, the Supreme Court blocked Walmart from facing the largest gender discrimination case ever brought against an employer.

Now, though, Walmart again faces discrimination lawsuits. These 100 plaintiffs are alleging denial of equal pay in retail store and certain salaried management positions. The plaintiffs are both current and former employees.

The Plaintiffs

The plaintiffs include Francine Radtka, who worked as a deli manager at Walmart in Manatee County, Florida from 1995 to 2000. She expressed concern when she found that other department managers, all men, were making more money than she was. No one listened; she was soon forced to take on more duties without additional pay. She went from working 50 hours a week to nearly 90, without a raise.

Another plaintiff, Jenny Hicks, worked at a Walmart in the same county as Radtka, from 1997 to 2000. Hicks trained managers who went on to make more than her, all male. She left due to lack of upward mobility, even though those same promotions were made available to those she was training.

In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Walmart, in the case of Walmart Stores v Dukes, was too large to constitute a class action suit against. This prompted the plaintiffs to file individual lawsuits against the retailer.

Lindsey Wagner, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, says that female new hires are often placed in cashier roles or associate roles, while men are placed in departments where fast-track promotion opportunities are often available. She also notes several more lawsuits are likely to be filed over the next few months.

In addition to lawsuits, Walmart employees are pushing for the company to reveal the pay gaps between male and female employees. In 2015, a shareholder resolution was introduced that requires Walmart to disclose disparities in pay between male and female employees. However, despite the introduction in 2015, Walmart has still not disclosed those pay disparities. Gender pay gaps at Walmart still exist, as does upward mobility for male employees over females.

Sexual Harassment by Elected Officials Hurting Employees

Being employed by an elected official is no longer bliss, especially in the light of any form of sexual harassment. Recent cases such as those of Sheriff Donald O’Cain and Eddie Fair’s former boss are still pending because of they for elected officials. Serving at ‘will and pleasure’ comes with some form of exposure as the elected officials can employ and fire at will with or without proper reason. The accused have not consented to any of the claims, leaving the harassed at crossroads. In the case of the Simpson’s County scandal, the woman reflected that it was suggested to her that she resigned instead of going against an elected official. Eddie Fair had a tough time getting her case across as the work handbook stated that she could only report the incident to an elected official. And in this case, her alleged harasser.

The situation has put employees working for an elected official in a tight position as they also need to meet the needs of their dependents. Losing a job may be out of the question, and the elected officials are reportedly taking advantage of the desperation to acquire sexual favors and harass them. The law does not have a direct say when it comes to elected official through the Federal government can do something about it. The procedure that involved the higher state is however slow and frustrating. Nick Norris, one of the complainants, advocate said that very little can be done against an elected official and only the voters can decide after the electioneering period.

The House Education Chairman John Moore recently resigned after such allegations were made against him. Philip Gun, the current house speaker, said that the accusations were coming from different fronts and multiple women. The most astonishing thing is that the probe into the issue ended with the resignation with the involved parties citing that nothing could be done if Moore was out of office. Lawmakers are seeking to push a bill that will require public office officials to take responsibility of sexual harassment claims as well as reimburse any state money used to compensate, settle or litigate such claims while they are in office.

Sexual harassment does not only involve inappropriate advances but an offensive language in which the victim can be both male and female.

A Fort Worth Nurse is Considering a Lawsuit as She Faces Lifelong Injuries After Elevator Mishap

A Day Like Any Other

On January 20, 56-year-old Carren Stratford was hard at work as part of her normal duties taking care of her patients. What should have been a normal day turned into a nightmare as her life was changed forever by an encounter with an elevator that was not operating as it should.

As the elevator was going up, Carren’s right foot became caught in the equipment as the elevator continued to rise. She was crushed and received extensive brain and internal injuries.

Severe, Unnecessary Trauma

In what should have been a safe place where she could be protected and healed, Carren suffered extreme damages from which she will never fully recover. Her brain was deprived of oxygen for so long that she suffered hypoxia, a dangerous condition which can cause permanent damage to other important organs.

Carren was in a coma for 15 days, after which she spent a week going in and out of consciousness.

Dedicated Nurse and Family Woman

Carren Stratford is 56 years old and was working as a nurse at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth before her tragic accident. Known as a dependable and helpful worker, she took on extra shifts to try to visit her family in Kenya.

Carren has two adult children, who have been by her side as she recovers in the hospital. She was finally able to mouth the words “I love you” to them.

Hospital Statement

Chief Executive Officer Robert Earley has expressed concern and sadness on behalf of the hospital because of Ms. Stratford’s injuries. He says that the hospital is considering legal action against the elevator maintenance company, thyssenkrupp, or TKE.

Chief Executive Officer Early is searching for another company that can better provide elevator safety. He explained in a public statement how devastating it was for the hospital to see one of its own injured, and how the hospital had believed that they could trust a company holding itself out as an expert.

Frank Branson, the attorney for Carren Stafford’s family, said the hospital’s actions after the incident were commendable but they are still considering filing a lawsuit.

Sheriff of Small Texas County Sued for Sexual Misconduct

One thing that is certain, which came out of the thousands of personal stories recounted on the MeToo Movement, is that sexual harassment is not limited to Hollywood producers, actors, and politicians. It can also happen in any workplace, anywhere, where one person has power and authority over another one.

It Can Happen in a Small Town

These allegations can occur even in lowly-populated rural areas such as the recent lawsuit filed in federal court in Waco, Texas. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Shirley Boger, alleges sexual misconduct by Sheriff Ricky Scaman. He is the county sheriff for nearby Falls County. Falls County only has about 18,000 people. The biggest town is Marlin, TX, where the sheriff’s office is located, with a population of around 6,000.

History of Sexual Abuse Allegations

The recent civil lawsuit by Shirley Boger is the second time Sheriff Scaman has been sued by a county employee alleging sexual misconduct. The first lawsuit was filed by Nanci Anderson in April 2018. She worked as an assistant chief deputy for Scaman. In Anderson’s suit, she alleges that Scaman subjected her to sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and created a work environment, which was so hostile that she was forced to quit.

Boger vs. Scaman

Boger worked as a dispatcher and jailer for the sheriff’s department. Sheriff Scaman was her boss. The lawsuit claims that Scaman has a history of discriminatory behavior against female employees who work for the sheriff’s department that he supervises.

In the suit, Boger claims that on one occasion Scaman invited her into his private office, closed the door, and asked her if she had been thinking about him. She also alleges that this type of encounter happened more than 20 times. Some of these times she claims he licked her face, groped her body, and then sexually assaulted her.

Scaman’s Defense

Scaman denies the claims. He refuses to comment on the case except through his attorney. His attorney says that Boger was terminated after she walked off the job, during the middle of a shift, while Scaman was on vacation in Mexico. There was no dispute alleged to have occurred with the supervisor in charge at that time, who was the chief deputy.

After Boger quit, she continued to exchange text message with Scaman. Scaman’s attorney says these communications do not reference any sexual misconduct. The defense attorney says it is inconceivable that the text messages would continue if Boger had been raped more than 20 times in the tiny sheriff’s office that is surrounded by other personnel.

Train Derailment Ends in Two Railway Workers’ Deaths

An Unavoidable Crash

On October 4, 2018, a Union Pacific train was heading east toward North Platte, Nebraska, when the crew realized there was a problem. The brakes were malfunctioning, and they radioed ahead to let dispatch know what was happening.

At that moment the train went out of control and sped up to 50 mph, with the crew trying and failing to slow it down. Unfortunately, the train didn’t stop until it encountered another train which was stopped on the tracks.

Nobody was on the other train, so luckily no one on that train was injured. However, two men lost their lives on the train with the defective brakes.

A Scene of Chaos and Despair

Conductor Benjamin Brozovich had worked for Union Pacific for 20 years before he lost his life in the disaster. As the train he was on rear-ended the stopped train about 18 miles west of Cheyenne, the impact was so strong that 66 trains derailed. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the damages are worth about $2.4 million.

Jason Martinez also lost his life that night, but the scene was so chaotic that his body wasn’t found until the next day. An employee of Union Pacific for 12 years at that time, he was originally thought missing after the accident.

Two other crew members were injured that night, but they were treated at a local hospital and then released.

How Could This Happen?

Trains are normally considered orderly and predictable, and rail workers strive to meet high standards for rail travel. Trains and equipment undergo regular inspections in order to comply with those high standards.

There are data recorders on trains similar to the black boxes on airplanes, and they keep track of important information that will assist the NTSB as it investigates the accident. The data includes information such as the train’s speed, the use of the train’s brakes and the use of the horn. At this time, the NTSB has not completed its investigation but believes that the brakes malfunctioned, as the crew originally reported.

The scene will take a long time to clean up, and in the meantime, the widow of Jason Martinez plans to file a lawsuit.

School Bus Accident Drives Wyoming Lawsuit

On Oct. 4, 2017, at the cross-streets of CY Avenue and Ash Street, in Casper, Wyoming, Rick Walsh was riding his motorized bicycle near Natrona County High School when he was hit by a bus owned by the school district. The accident occurred when the bus turned left while Walsh was riding through the intersection.

Rick Walsh’s mother, Jacqueline Willis, has been legally appointed conservator and guardian of her son. Willis is suing the Teton County School District No. 1 in a suit that alleges that the driver disregarded the intersection traffic signal when turning left, failed to look for traffic, and did not yield the right of way causing, according to the lawsuit, “the school district bus to strike Mr. Walsh and his motorized bicycle.”

Walsh, age 57, now requires 24-hour care and lives in a group home. The lawsuit states that “Walsh has suffered serious and life-threatening injuries that have required hospitalizations, surgeries and full-time assisted living care. He is permanently disabled and has suffered significant traumatic brain injury.” Lawyers for Walsh and Willis are asking for over one million dollars in damages.

There were no students on board the bus at the time of the accident, which was in Casper for an activity trip. The bus was operated by Kelsey Clark, who is currently employed with the school district. Clark was not cited in the incident. Lawyers for the school district, in their Jan. 22 response, concede that the bus was involved in the accident, but deny Clark acted negligently, disregarded the light, or failed to check for traffic. The “Gillette News Record,” seeking a response to the suit from the law office of McKellar, Tiedeken & Scoggin, which represents the school, was informed that the office had no comment. Clark could not be reached.

The lawsuit was filed on January 4th, 2019, and was submitted in the Teton County District Court. The vehicular personal injury suit’s pretrial conference is set for Sept. 5, 2019. “It’s a serious case. Our jury system is the best legal system in the world, and the jury will look at it and give us justice, I believe,” says the plaintiff’s attorney, Bob Schuster. The trial is scheduled to start in early 2020.

EEOC Lawsuit Settlement of $675,000

The amount of $675,000 will be paid by Atlantic Capes Fisheries, Inc. (ACF), a New Jersey-based shellfish harvester and processor, and BJ’s Service Co., Inc. a staffing agency, along with providing other relief to settle a lawsuit charging sex-based harassment filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

In addition to complying with the law, ACF and BJ’s must provide policy changes and training to educate their workforce about their rights under Title VII. Exemplifying best employment practices includes the emphasis that all employers should know they have a responsibility to prevent sexual harassment of their employees. There should be multiple avenues for employees to complain about harassment. Those ways of communication should be clear when shared with all staff. According to the EEOC’s suit, there was knowledge of the pervasive harassment but neither ACF nor BJ’s made any efforts to stop the harassment or punish the harassers. The four women filing discrimination charges with the EEOC alerted the agency about sexual harassment that was adversely affecting many of the female co-workers in the facility. According to the EEOC’s suit, women at the facility have been subject to ongoing sexual harassment since at least 2013. The alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The four-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit has terms for any women who have worked at ACF’s facility at any time since January 2013 and who have experienced sexual harassment will be eligible to receive a portion of the settlement. The decree is requiring both employers to revise or create policies prohibiting sexual discrimination including harassment and provide training to their managers and workers. The training and policies must be in both English and Spanish. Both employers are also required by the decree to track, retain, and investigate complaints of sexual harassment and to provide copies of those complaints to the EEOC for the duration of the decree. The decree also requires a human resources professional employed by ACF who is bilingual in English and Spanish. The filing of the lawsuit by the EEOC in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts was on September 27, 2017, after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.