Tag: labor law

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.

Subtle Sex Discrimination

Although the “Mad Men” days of overt sex discrimination in the workplace are mostly past, women still experience a surprising amount of gender-based discrimination in many industries, from basic entry-level jobs up to high-powered Silicon Valley firms.

Examples at a recent trial regarding sexual harassment and sex discrimination at a major venture capital firm show exactly the kind of subtle, undercover discrimination many women are still likely to face today.  As one example, women at the company testified that they weren’t invited to events like a ski trip and a dinner party, while their male equivalents were, denying them the opportunity of bonding with and becoming better known to higher-up decision makers.  Others testified about being caught in a performance review trap: first their reviews gave negative assessments that they were too passive and didn’t speak up enough, but as soon as they did speak up and sought credit for their work like their male colleagues did, they were again negatively reviewed as pushy and entitled.

As a result of these subtle forms of discrimination, women weren’t considered equal candidates when assessed against their male colleagues, even by people who weren’t the original discriminators.  Why would you promote a woman you didn’t know and who had subtly negative performance reviews over a man you had gotten to know and liked over a company dinner and who had uniformly positive reviews?  To many decision-makers, you wouldn’t, further hurting the women in their positions within the company and their careers.

These kinds of subtle discrimination are still far too common in the American workforce and are just as illegal as the more traditional and overt kinds of discrimination.