Archive for sexual harassment

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.

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.

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.

Repeated violations by Happy Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation

Happy Valley LLC, which operates out of Malvern Arkansas under the provider name Happy Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation, has repeatedly mishandled sexual harassment complaints brought forward by its female employees. Federal officials at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against the company in which it alleged that Happy Valley violated federal law by firing victims that came forward with claims of sexual harassment.

Based on the details outlined in the lawsuit filed by the EEOC, employees within the Happy Valley organization were aware of the culture of victim blame and punishment, in which those who were sexually harassed and came forward were terminated, with no action taken against their accused.

These sexual allegations within the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which considers sexual harassment a form of sexual discrimination. Happy Valley further broke anti-discrimination laws which prohibit retaliation against individuals reporting discrimination, or opposing company actions they believe discriminates against individuals.

The Lawsuit further states that the company had knowledge of the harassment of its female employees for a number of years, receiving reports back in May of 2016 and as recent as May of 2018. Authorities within the company, upon receiving reports, would continuously promise the victimized women that the issue would be addressed, but failed to ever do so. This inaction by management created a predatory environment in which other harassment went unchecked, with subsequent victims fearing to come forward.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the laws against discrimination and violations of employee rights, such as those committed at Happy Valley. The agency first took action to address these violations and find a resolution by trying to utilize its conciliation process to reach a pre-litigation settlement. After this proved to be unfruitful, the EEOC went on to file suit against Happy Valley in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas Hot Springs Division, Civil Action No. 6:18-cv-06089. The suit comes with an injunction against future discrimination and violations and seeks monetary relief for the victims.

From DC to Hollywood to companies across the country, sexual harassment and discrimination violations are being dragged into the light and are being further highlighted on social media through movements such as the #metoo campaign. Victims are now finding it much easier to come forward with this social support, and the EEOC is doing a good job at combating the violations reported to them.

Judge Dismisses Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Haddon Township Police Chief

A 2-year statute of limitation has caused the judge to dismiss the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by four senior, male police officers against Haddon township police chief Mark Cavallo. Out of four counts, three were dismissed because though the officers claimed to be victims of sexual harassment since 2008, they cited no incidents since March 2016.

The senior officers had accused their superior of making inappropriate comments to and about them that were sexual in nature, including unwanted verbal solicitations. They stated that he touched them on the upper, inner thigh, and claimed to have witnessed Cavallo doing the same to other police officers.

The township had an attorney investigate the complaints, which the township mayor Randall Teague claimed were submitted after Cavallo had expressed intentions to retire and then changed his mind. Teague mentioned that the allegations were made at a time when police department promotions were being discussed and advertised.

Jeffrey Caccese, the attorney representing the four officers, emphasized that their decision to come forward with their concerns was difficult and not taken lightly. He also emphasized that no action was taken by the township to remedy the troubling situation.

The one remaining complaint in the lawsuit is for a claim of retaliation made after March 2016. This claim was made when Cavallo demanded that the officers had broken the chain of command by criticizing the promotion process.

A fifth officer had filed a lawsuit shortly after being let go in 2015 due to an eye condition that hindered his ability to work. While he had originally claimed to have received inappropriate communications from Cavallo, including sexually charged texts and images, he settled for $175,000 in exchange for agreeing he had no inappropriate communication from him.

The complaints filed by the four officers remain nothing more than allegations after being dismissed, and Cavallo continues to serve as police chief. At 59 years of age, Cavallo has been police chief since 2009 and served on the Haddon Township police force for 34 years.

Meanwhile, the four officers continue to serve under Cavallo, with one accuser—Captain Scott Bishop—serving as the second-highest ranking officer in the department.

 

4 Employees Sue UCLA over Workplace Sexual Harassment

Four former female UCLA employees, namely, Krystal Eda, Marya Miguel, Amber Rose Palega, and Jackie Rodriguez have filed a lawsuit against the University of California and Board of Regents for failing to handle abuse complaints appropriately. The case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, and the plaintiffs claim that their supervisor, Martha Mansoor harassed them sexually by slapping their buttocks, caressing their thighs, and making uncouth sexual remarks about their bodies. The plaintiffs feel that their allegations were ignored as they were ‘female-to-female.’

These claims fall under the FEHA (Fair Employment and Housing Act) rights that are meant to protect employees against workplace harassment and discrimination. The plaintiffs allege that the harassment began in 2016 and that the defendant retained her post even after one of the women informed another supervisor of the harassment. Instead, the supervisors retaliated by adding on to the plaintiffs’ workload, thus ensuring that they had no time to seek legal help, claims Darren Richie, the plaintiffs’ lawyer. Retaliation is also covered under FEHA.

The plaintiffs also claim that the complaint process at UCLA is long, confusing and ineffective. They cite a perfect example of the defendant continuing to work with and supervising the plaintiffs even after being alerted to the complaints against her. In spite of the harassment complaints having been submitted earlier in the year, the lawsuit indicates that the school terminated Mansoor in July of 2017. Moreover, UCLA’s internal complaint system showed that only one of the four women was the complainant while the rest were witnesses.

While UCLA did not respond immediately, they later issued a statement claiming that “these allegations are inconsistent with the standards of conduct expected of UCLA staff, faculty and students and we take them very seriously.” UCLA said they were reviewing the lawsuit’s details and would respond appropriately. The statement further encouraged the UCLA community to come forth with any concerns they could be having about the workplace environment.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for sexual harassment, failure of the institution to prevent such harassment, retaliation and discrimination, and deliberate and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Richie says that the four plaintiffs are pursuing more than 120 million dollars in compensation.

 

North Dakota Construction Firm Ordered to Pay for Sexual Harassment Suit

In order to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a North Dakota civil construction company has been ordered to pay $59,000.

The lawsuit alleged Keller Paving Landscaping Inc., operating in Minot, was creating a hostile work environment for a female employee that included numerous incidents of sexual harassment. Based on the tough working conditions, she was forced to resign.

The company employed Jennifer Gerard, from June to October 2013, as a truck driver. During the short time she was employed, she was sexually harassed by several male coworkers. Some of the harassment included telling Gerard that she should be at home taking care of her kids instead of at the workplace. One incident alleges that a male coworker touched her on the shoulder and leg. Another incident included a male coworker asking Gerard to perform oral sex on him.

Even after complaining to both owners and her site manager, the harassment continued. When the conditions became too intolerable, Gerard quit.

The allegations Gerard had against the company are a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act helps protects employees facing discrimination based on their sex, color, religion, race, or national origin, and it also includes protection against sexual harassment.

When a pre-litigation settlement could not be reached, the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota, and on June 4, 2018, a U.S. District Judge signed the order. The $59,000 includes monetary relief to Gerard. As part of the settlement, Keller also has to revise its policies and include in the company handbook a way to complain about sexual harassment. In addition to having complaint procedures that are clearly outlined in the employee handbook, there will be required training. The company will need to train its management on Title VII. The training will include prohibitions against sexual harassment. Non-management employees will be trained on their rights under Title VII, which include being able to file discrimination charges with the EEOC. The company must report on any complaints of sexual harassment during a two-year period in order to comply with the EEOC.

 

A Popular Ex-San Jose Cop Gets Fired For Filing a Lawsuit for Sexually Harassed Women

San Jose tech firm was sued recently after one of its security managers, harassed his female colleague. It all started when he talked about his genitalia at a company party. Due to fear of retaliation, his female workmates didn’t report him to the human resource manager despite being uncomfortable with his utterances.

Robert Lobach, a security contractor at the firm and an ex-San Jose policeman, urged the aggrieved employees to file their complaints with the HR. However, they hesitated, a move that prompted Robert to file the complaint on their behalf. According to the lawsuit, the workers gave Robert the green light which eventually got him fired.

Before approaching the Xilinx HR department, Robert personally met with each employee to get explicit details of what transpired in December 2017. Chris Ward, who heads the firm’s security operations, was in attendance.

The court heard that during the celebration, Ward narrated a story concerning a man who intended to cut off his private parts. He further praised his genitalia and declared his intense desire to protect his organs from assailants.

Many women, near Ward at that moment, were contractors from Allied Universal Security Services. The company provides vital services to Xilinx. When Ward noticed that his colleagues were uncomfortable with his utterances, he said he had the right to opine. After all, he was the client.

Xilinx disputed Robert’s claim that he got fired. Through their lawyer, the company said that Allied Services had re-hired him after he filed the complaint. One of its spokespersons said that the firm doesn’t want to harbor harassment of employees at their workplace. Furthermore, the company stated that their Code of Conduct explicitly discourages such behaviors.

The spokesperson claimed that the firm is committed to creating a comfortable workplace for all its workers and contractors. It also takes any violation concerns seriously. Also, Xilinx gives strict punishment to those found culpable of sexual harassment.

At the time the court issued the new lawsuit, #MeToo movement had established a foundation in Silicon Valley. It fights against sexual harassment of women employees in venture capital and tech firms.

A week after the party, Robert approached the firm’s HR and explained female contractors’ concerns. Consequentially, the company fired him the following day. Robert filed his case on Tuesday at the Santa Clara County court where he is asking for unspecified damages.

Roberts’ name might be familiar to most readers of the Mercury News. Back in 2015, while working as Branham high school’s security guard, some assailants stabbed him in the back. He was dispersing individuals drinking alcohol and smoking bang. The knife’s blade hit his spine protecting him from serious injury.