Category Archives: hostile work environment

Employee fired after complaining about boss on ‘anonymous’ company website

Michelle Miller, a manager at Indiana-based Wireless @ Work, has filed a lawsuit against her company after she was allegedly fired three hours after she complained on a “purportedly anonymous” company website about co-owner Steve Unversaw’s “inappropriate comments” about minorities and his behavior towards women.

Miller claims that Steve Unversaw said black people “tended to be’thieves and con artists,'” that Unversaw accused a black employee of “stealing a phone and ‘acting his color,'” and that he told Miller that “by hiring black employees she was not protecting the interest of the company.”

Miller alleges that after she witnessed Unversaw making “sexist comments” to another female employe, she decided to report the sexual harassment on a company website designed to field such complaints. Three hours later she was fired by Unversaw’s business partner, Wireless @ Work co-owner Matt Clarke.

Miller is seeking punitive damages for being subjected to a hostile work environment and retaliation.

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Former Whirlpool employee awarded $1 million in sexual harassment lawsuit

A sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the EEOC against Whirlpool ended with the judge ordering Whirpool to compensate the victim for failing to protect her from extensive and ongoing harassment by a male coworker.

During the trial, 56-year-old Whirlpool employee Willie Baker repeatedly made inappropriate racial and sexual comments toward the victim, Carlotta Freeman, over a period of several months, at then end of which Baker punched Freeman in the face.

Freeman, who worked for Whirlpool for more than 16 years on an assembly line in Tennessee, claimed to have reported the racial and sexual harassment on a number of occassions. Her lawyers claimed that although numerous managers were aware of the hostile work environment, the company failed to take the necessary steps to stop Baker’s abusive behavior.

As a result of the harassment, Freeman has suffered serious psychological injuries that include, as her attorney describes, “probably…the worst case of post traumatic stress disorder you’ve ever seen.”

Baker was fired and was later convicted of assault in criminal court.

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EEOC sues Jack in the Box California franchisee for sexual harassment

Kobra Associates Inc., a Jack in the Box franchisee which owns about 70 restaurants in Northern and Central California, was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for failing to take corrective action to stop a manager from sexually harassing his female employees.

Richard Bartels, the manager of the Jack in the Box restaurant in Paradise, California, was named in the EEOC lawsuit.  Bartels allegedly created a hostile work environment and subjected female workers under his supervision to unwelcome sexual advances and frequent remarks about their anatomy.

Though the female employees repeatedly complained about the sexual harassment through multiple avenues, including leaving messages with Jack in the Box’s ethics hotline, the lawsuit alleges that the company did not act to stop Bartels’ abusive behavior, which continued for more than one year.

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Workplace bullying led waitress to commit suicide

A teenage waitress at Cafe Vamp, a popular cafe in Australia, committed suicide after she was subjected to systematic physical and emotional workplace bullying by bosses and coworkers. 

Three men who were implicated in the harassment of 19-year-old Brodie Rae Constance Panlock pleaded guilty to a number of workplace charges.

Marc Luis Da Cruz, the owner of Cafe Vamp, pleaded guilty to two charges that included failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment. 

Cafe manager Nicholas Smallwood and chef Gabriel Toomey pleaded guilty to charges of failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of persons.

The local coroner Peter White testified that Brodie Panlock was “emotionally vulnerable” because of her young age, lack of experience, and low self-esteem.  White said that the systematic bullying and “almost daily routine of inappropriate pressure” that the defendants inflicted on Panlock caused her an “unbearable level of humiliation” and led her to jump from a multi-story car park building in September 20, 2006.

The trial of Da Cruz, Smallwood, and Toomey is set to continue on February 5, 2010.

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Albertsons pays $9 million to settle EEOC discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of 168 workers

Albertsons agreed to pay $8.9 million to settle three federal discrimination lawsuits filed by the EEOC on behalf of 168 minority employees who complained of racial discrimination at the Albertsons distribution center in Aurora, Colorado.

Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Jewish employees complained of a hostile work environment from 1995 until 2008 that consisted of racist and anti-Semitic slurs, graffiti, and threats. 

The graffiti in the men’s restroom, which included the word “n—-r” and drawings of black and Hispanic men with nooses around their necks, was so offensive that many workers refused to use the restroom and would wait to relieve themselves outside the warehouse.

Employees allege that even though they complained about the graffiti, it was not removed until years later.  Workers also claim that they heard their white bosses joking and laughing about the racist graffiti.

The EEOC lawsuit alleged that numerous managers knew about and even participated in the harassment and discrimination of minority employees.  Furthermore, many employees who complained about the harassment were denied promotions, given harder job assignments, and were fired in retaliation for having complained.

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Seven black workers sue Dr Pepper Snapple for racial discrimination

Last week seven black employees of the Northlake, IL Dr Pepper Snapple warehouse filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company for failing to stop the harassment, which allegedly continued for more than two years.

The workers claim that Hispanic supervisors repeatedly hurled racial insults at the black employees and called them such things as “donkey,” “monkey,” and “n—-r.”

In addition, the lawsuit alleges that racially offensive graffiti was written across the black workers’ lockers twice this year. 

A spokesman for Dr Pepper Snapple Group said that the company immediately launched an investigation when it received the workers’ complaints and that it fired a number of employees.

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Aaron Rents settles EEOC sexual harassment lawsuit

The ‘rent-to-own’ retail chain Aaron Rents Inc. settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a young woman who was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment by the general manager of Aaron’s Fairview Heights store in Illinois. 

The store manager allegedly often made sexually explicit comments and requested sex from a 20-year-old employee.  The EEOC lawsuit stated that the manager “touched Alford’s body in a sexually offensive  manner on a number of occasions and he exposed himself to her several times.  Alford complained to her direct supervisor and called the company hotline but no action was taken to end the harassment. In October 2006, [the manager] sexually assaulted Alford in the Fairview Heights facility.”

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