Category: Sexual Harassment

sexual harassment

Pennsylvania Attorney General Ignored Sexual Harassment Complaints

Kathleen G. Kane, Attorney General to the state of Pennsylvania, is being accused of ignoring sexual harassment complaints from within her own department. Ms. Kane allegedly ignored several recommendation to fire her Chief of Staff, Jonathan Duecker, whom she had recently appointed to the position.

The Office of Professional Responsibility submitted a report to Ms. Kane, describing accusations against Mr. Duecker for two cases of sexual harassment. One case occurred at a non-work related event. Mr. Duecker allegedly harassed a female prosecutor who worked in the same office, while a group of office co-workers went out to a bar. He allegedly slid his hands under the co-worker’s shirt and attempted to put his hands under her skirt.

The second incident that was reported occurred at a house used by the Attorney General’s office for investigation. Mr. Duecker purportedly made unwelcome advances on the female agent. She went to a bedroom to sleep a few hours; couple of hours later, the Chief of Staff entered the room but when questioned why he was there, he responded that he was going to leave.

As of now, the Attorney General said there are no plans to take action against Duecker or plans to change his status.

Source: USAttorneys

Multi-Million Dollar Payout for Unnamed Teen

A 17 year old teenager and her guardians received a high paying victory for an employment case that was not only sexual harassment but also dubbed “sexual molestation.” The plaintiff, identified only as S.W. due to her age, sued employer U.S. Metro Group through her guardian.

Plaintiff, who was 15 at the time of the incidents, began working for U.S. Metro Group to help pay for an expensive cheerleader uniform. An employee of the company, Luis Morales, knew the plaintiff needed money because she was friends with Morales’ daughter. Morales was the one who offered plaintiff the job at the cleaning company. Plaintiff accepted the offer and began working with Morales at his night job cleaning buildings.

It was at that point plaintiff alleges Morales took advantage of her, “exploiting her sexually.” Morales has been criminally prosecuted for these charges as well. The company responded to plaintiff’s position by stating that plaintiff was never a formal employee of the company. Company policy forbids minors and non-employees from being brought to job sites, and U.S. Metro Group had no knowledge of Morales bringing the plaintiff to his job. In fact both plaintiff and Morales kept the situation a secret from the company.

Plaintiff sued in January 2013 for the following claims: sexual assault and battery; sexual harassment; failure to prevent harassment; negligence; negligent hiring and training; and infliction of emotional distress.

A jury on March 20, 2015 decided in the plaintiff’s favor, finding Morales 40 percent negligent and the company 60 percent. Plaintiff was awarded $150,000 for economic damages and $2.5 million for non-economic damages adding up to $2.65 million in an overall award.

Source: Daily Journal

Sexual Harassment Isn’t Uniquely American

Svetlana Lokhova is a British banker whose job matched something you would expect in a movie or television show. She kept insane hours, made a sizable income (approximately $1.1 million a year), and had to endure a misogynistic, harassing environment.

Lokhova worked for the Russian bank, Sberbank CIB in London. From the outset, she had to endure constant degrading comments and bullying. She was often called “Crazy Miss Cockhead” and “Miss Bonkers” and accused of being a drug addict. Since she was constantly being called these names, the company began to suspect that she actually was on drugs and was forced to undergo a drug test. She tested negative and passed.

On top of the drug addiction taunts, the men of the department had no shame in commenting on her body. On several occasions, she was told that the only reason she got hired was “because of her t—s.” the sexual harassment got so severe, that despite the healthy salary, Lokhova had to leave her position and take a leave of absence. She suffered a mental breakdown.

Lokhova’s claims eventually found its way to the Central London Employment Tribunal who reviewed the case. They ruled in her favor, awarding her the equivalent of approximately $4.7 million. Her award was broken down into lost earnings, damages for hurt feelings, and aggravated damages. The bank was further chastised for not taking proper disciplinary action against the men who were involved. In fact, the ring leader of bunch was given $250,000 to leave the company.

As a result of her traumatic experiences, the Tribunal found that Lokhova may never be able to work in finance again as she is still “suffering from a moderately severe psychiatric illness.”

A Wildfire in Silicon Valley Ignited

After decades of thinking, “this is just the way things are” the defeat of Ellen Pao ignited a new sensitivity to possible gender discrimination, especially in Silicon Valley. Thus far, two new lawsuits have been filed in the technology mecca, both by women complaining of discrimination and bias based on sex.

Elisabeth Sussex, former counsel for wearable technology company Jawbone, file a wrongful termination suit against her former employer. She alleges that over a year earlier, she filed a complaint against the chief technology officer, Michael Luna for his demeaning behavior. Regardless of her performance, Sussex always received a negative review from Luna. The most recent one being only one month before her termination. She was demoted based on, what she alleges to be, inaccurate and fabricated facts.

Sussex was terminated in April 2014. She further alleges that Luna’s behavior specifically turned female employees away and that kind of behavior was saved for female employees only.

Another Silicon Valley lawsuit details not only gender discrimination, but race discrimination and sexual harassment as well. Heather McCloskey worked for Paymentwall Inc., an online based payment system. McCloskley alleges that her supervisor, Benoit Boisset  said she was in need of a good spanking because she was a “bad girl.” Benoit also compared McCloskey’s chest to an airport runway and mimed oral sex acts toward her.

McCloskey complained, in writing to the CEO, and was fired two weeks later. McCloskey, who was only twenty-three at the time of the incident, had work piled on her with impossible expectations—a mere pretext for her termination.

Pao, though not a favorable verdict for the plaintiff, opened many other Silicon Valley women’s eyes to the possible disparate treatment around them.

Source: Daily Journal

The Wolf of Humphrey’s County

Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Wolf of Wall Street” depicts powerful men in high places living a life of sex and drugs. It seems a Humphrey’s County, Tennessee superintendent saw himself as one of DiCaprio’s men. Jimmy Long is now being sued by a bookkeeper for the school district, Teresa Smith.

Smith alleges in her suit that Long bragged about his open marriage and continually propositioned Smith for sex. The bookkeeper complained to county commissioners, as well as the Tennessee State Controller about the harassment. In her email complaint, Smith also accused the superintendent of misusing district funds for his own personal use, and allowed other, retired district officials to do the same.

The embezzlement of funds aside, the bulk of Smith’s complaints stemmed from Long’s overtly sexual behavior. Long grabbed Smith aggressively and in a sexually suggestive way. Often, he would make comments about Smith’s breasts and speak about sexual stimulation products he utilized.

Her complaints, Smith alleges, were continually ignored and eventually led to her termination. The suit seeks lost wages, lost benefits, lost future wages, compensatory and punitive damages.

In California, this falls under a classic case of hostile work environment sexual harassment. Long’s behavior toward Smith was pervasive and created a sexually charged working environment. Long was Smith’s superior, establishing liability on the part of the school district. She also reported the situation to over the superintendent’s house, but she was met with silence. If this situation sounds similar to you in California, don’t hesitate to give our Aegis attorneys a call.