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Former employee sues Playboy for hostile work environment and discrimination

Jenny Lewis, the former Guest Relations Coordinator at the Playboy Mansion, has filed a lawsuit against Playboy Enterprises and Hugh Hefner after the company terminated her on November 4, 2009 while she was on medical leave recovering from surgery.

Lewis alleges that she was subjected to a hostile work environment at the Playboy Mansion for the past year.  In addition, she has accused her former bosses of gender discrimination for demoting several women while refusing to demote any of their male counterparts.

Lewis claims that her termination was unlawful under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and that it happened in retaliation after she questioned practices that she thought might be violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

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12 black employees sue Cleco Corp for racial discrimination

Twelve current or former black employees of Cleco Corp., an energy company based in Pineville, Louisiana, filed a lawsuit against the company for allegedly subjecting them to racial discrimination and a hostile work environment where bosses encouraged “racist and dicriminatory comments”.

In addition, the lawsuit says that the company retaliated against employees who complained to Cleco management about the workplace bullying.

The black employees allege that they “were routinely denied promotion while (Cleco promoted) similarly situated white employees with less experience, education and training.”

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Lesbian lawyer sues law firm for sexual harassment

After receiving a right to sue notice from the EEOC in November 2009, a former associate of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson is in the process of filing a lawsuit against the law firm for denying her a promotion because she is a lesbian and for not taking action to stop executives from harassing her.

Julie Kamps, a Harvard Law School graduate, worked at Fried Frank from 1998 until January 2009. Kamps alleges that Janice Mac Avoy, a female partner at Fried Frank, sexually harassed her by “knowingly (making) unwelcome sexual advances and sexual comments to Kamps, both alone and in the presence of others.” According to Kamps, Mac Avoy “told Kamps that it was ‘the biggest regret of her life’ that she had not slept with Kamps ‘when she had the chance.'” Mac Avoy also allegedly talked about various sexual acts with Kamps.

Kamps’ complaint also names William McGuinness, chair of the firm’s litigation department, and David Hennes, a litigation partner who allegedly asked Kamps to write a negative review of an attorney that he wanted “to get rid of.” After Kamps refused, she alleges that Hennes began a campaign of harassment against her.

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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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Outback Steakhouse pays $19 million to settle EEOC sexual discrimination lawsuit

OSI Restaurant Partners LLC, which operates the Outback Steakhouse chain, agreed to pay $19 million to settle a class-action sex discrimination lawsuit that charged the company with discriminating against thousands of women at hundreds of its Outback Steakhouse restaurants in the U.S.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit against the restaurant company in 2006 for allegedly denying female employees equal opportunities for advancement.

The lawsuit said the company made it difficult for female employees to be promoted to the higher-level profit-sharing management positions in the restaurants.  Female employees were also allegedly denied favorable job assignments.

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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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