Tag Archives: toxic bosses

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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Bahama Breeze pays $1.3 million to settle racial harassment lawsuit

The Bahama Breeze restaurant chain agreed to settle an EEOC racial harassment lawsuit filed on behalf of 37 black workers at the Bahama Breeze restaurant in Beachwood, Ohio.  Bahama Breeze has agreed to pay $1.26 million to settle the lawsuit.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had accused managers at the Beachwood restaurant of ongoing acts of racial harassment and workplace bullying directed against its black workers.  Black workers were frequently called offensive names such as “stupid n—–r,” “homeboy,” “Aunt Jemima,” and “you people.” 

Managers would imitate the stereotypical black mannerisms and speech.  In addition, black workers were often denied breaks while their white coworkers were allowed breaks.  Even though the workers complained about the harassment, Bahama Breeze management did not stop the abusive behavior.

EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru said, “No worker should ever have to endure a racially hostile work environment in order to earn a paycheck.  It is particularly disturbing when managers engage in and condone the very unlawful conduct they are required to prevent and correct.  This sizeable settlement should remind employers of the possible consequences of a failure to promote and maintain a discrimination-free workplace.”

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ESPN baseball analyst Steve Phillips accused of harassing 22-year-old assistant Brooke Hundley

Brooke Hundley, the 22-year-old former ESPN production assistant who was fired together with baseball analyst Steve Phillips after their affair became public in October, claims that she was threatened and suffered harassment by Phillips.

Hundley told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she did not stalk Phillips, as he has alleged, and that she is the victim in this controversial incident.  Hundley said, “I was in a situation where I felt like if I didn’t do what was asked of me, then everything I had worked for, for the past six years, everything I had done to establish myself as a successful media professional, could be gone like that.”

In August, Hundley filed for a restraining order against Phillips, claiming that he threatened her career and her reputation, and told her that he could get her fired if she didn’t keep the affair a secret.  She later withdrew the restraining order request.

In 1998, Phillips took a brief leave of absence as general manager of the New York Mets after being sued for sexual harassment.  Phillips admitted to having consensual sex with the woman, Rosa Rodriguez, and he admitted to having several additional affairs, but he denied sexually harassing Rodriguez.  The civil suit was settled out of court.

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David Letterman accused of sexual harassment and creating hostile work environment

Nell Scovell, a former writer for the Late Night with David Letterman show, wrote an article that was published today in Vanity Fair about her experience working with David Letterman

She mentioned the fact that the section of sexual harassment law called sexual favoritism that, according to the EEOC, can lead to a hostile work environment that is often “demeaning to women,” accurately describes her experience working with Letterman on the Late Night show.

Though Scovell accused David Letterman of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment, she apparently is not interested in filing a lawsuit nor does she want to be compensated for Letterman’s discriminatory behavior.

The following is an excerpt from Scovell’s article:

Without naming names or digging up decades-old dirt, let’s address the pertinent questions. Did Dave hit on me? No. Did he pay me enough extra attention that it was noted by another writer? Yes. Was I aware of rumors that Dave was having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Was I aware that other high-level male employees were having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Did these female staffers have access to information and wield power disproportionate to their job titles? Yes. Did that create a hostile work environment? Yes. Did I believe these female staffers were benefiting professionally from their personal relationships? Yes. Did that make me feel demeaned? Completely. Did I say anything at the time? Sadly, no.

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EEOC files lawsuit against Sonic Drive-In for sexual harassment and retaliation

The EEOC filed a lawsuit against Sonic Drive-In of Los Lunas, Ltd., and B&B Consultants, Inc., doing business as Sonic Drive-In in Los Lunas, N.M., for not stopping a Sonic supervisor from subjecting female employees to sexual harassment and retaliating against the women who complained about the hostile work environment.

The EEOC lawsuit alleges that a number of female employees were forced to endure pervasive sexual comments and innuendo and unwelcome touching of bodies.  The lawsuit claims that the ongoing harassment and retaliation caused several women to leave their jobs at Sonic Drive-In.

“Our investigation revealed that a managerial supervisor was permitted to harass these women in the workplace and Sonic did not act promptly to provide corrective relief.” said EEOC Phoenix Acting District Director Rayford Irvin. “Employers have an important responsibility to protect their employees from harassment and retaliation in the workplace.”

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Binghamton University Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Update

The five defendants being sued by Binghamton University employee Elizabeth Williams for sexual harassment requested that the case be moved from the Southern District Court of New York to the Northern District Court.

Last July, Williams filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Binghamton University, its Senior Associate Athletic Director Jason Siegel, its Assistant Athletic Director for Development Chris Lewis, and two alumni, Larry Hollander and Michael Marcus who were involved in fundraising activities on BU’s behalf.

In her lawsuit, Williams claimed that she “discovered that her new bosses viewed women as playthings and expected women in the department to raise money by exploiting their sexuality” shortly after beginning her fundraising position with the university athletic department in late 2008.

“The lawsuit alleges that at a fundraising dinner in New York City in January, alum Larry Hollander put $100 bills on the table and told Williams to stop him when there was enough in the pile for her to sleep with him. At another fundraising event, alum Michael Marcus allegedly asked Williams to perform as a topless waitress at a party he was organizing, suggesting it as a way for her to make some extra money.”

After Williams complained to senior BU managers, the university allegedly did not take any actions to punish the toxic behavior.  Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that the defendants “tried to sweep the matter under the rug and have engaged in an ongoing pattern of retaliation against” Williams. 

Source: Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin and Associated Press

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Hedge Against a Toxic Boss – Tips and Tricks

A guest post from an eBossWatch user:

After having worked with numerous toxic bosses in my career, I have developed some methods to hedge against a toxic boss

Anytime I take a new job, I believe you need about 9 months to see what kind of environment and culture you have joined.  An interviewer/employer/toxic boss can be amiable in an interview just like being on a first date and they will show their best and hide any toxic behavior until they become comfortable.  You need some time for them to drop their guard. 

Here is the scenario – you have been job hunting for some time and probably have made many contacts and sent out plenty of resumes.  Well, not every company will respond to you and some respond at different times. 

If you end up taking a job for the sake of being able to pay the bills, do so, but DO NOT announce where you have gone to anyone except for people you can trust.  Do not let recruiters know where you are interviewing – they do not always keep things quiet and will bring up things to you from 8 years prior.  One even insisted I list my current job in which I was there for only 3 days.  You are better off having a gap in your resume than a short employment stint. 

DO NOT make announcements on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and so on.  If you take the job and find out it is not a fit, and leave or are fired – you will add the burden of explaining a short stint on your resume for the next number of years.  People may question your performance or feel you have poor judgment.  What if your dream employer calls you a couple of months after you start?  It will not bode well for you – so keep a lid on it

Next thing one should do is never stop looking for a job and continue networking.  If you are constantly out there and if your new boss turns out to be toxic, you can bail out a lot easier since you have momentum.  I had one experience where a new co-worker said to me, you are the 5th person that has been in your position during the last year. 

There is no reason to bring up bad experiences to a future employer.  Even if the future employer suspects the gap on your resume was a bad employment stint, they will respect you for being professional and pretending it never happened.  Would you hire a complainer that cannot let go or someone that knows how to move on without incident? 

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