Tag Archives: working with jerks

Cheesecake Factory pays $345,000 to settle male-on-male sexual harassment lawsuit

The EEOC announced that Cheesecake Factory Inc has agreed to pay $345,000 to six male employees who were allegedly sexually harassed by other male kitchen workers at the Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Chandler, Arizona.

The EEOC lawsuit claimed that the workplace bullies touched the victims inappropriately, made inappropriate sexual comments, and forced the victims into repeated incidents of simulated rape.  In one instance, managers allegedly witnessed employees dragging the male victims kicking and screaming into a refrigerated room.

Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission district office in Phoenix, said, “The evidence was clear, and everyone knew about it. Beyond the lavish decor that the company boasts on its website was a horribly dysfunctional workplace where male workers lived in fear.”

Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Chandler, AZ

Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Chandler, AZ

Despite the fact that the victims, Bryce Fitzpatrick, Albert Miller, Jesse DeJong, Michael Wilson, John Andrew, and Julio Muñoz, complained to almost every manager at the restaurant, but none of the managers did anything to stop the workplace bullying.

One victim eventually called the police and reported the hostile work environment and sexual harassment.  Chandler police investigated the incidents but did not file any charges.

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Confessions of a bad boss

In his latest column, Scott Smith recalls a period during the 1980s in which he behaved like a workplace bully and was, as he describes himself, “an arrogant, self-centered, immature jerk.”  Smith, who is the Lifestyle Editor at Colorado’s The Pueblo Chieftain newspaper, has publicly admitted being a bad boss in order to thank a close friend and colleague who gave Smith a “verbal wake-up call” and helped him acknowledge his abusive behavior.

Smith, writing in the third person, describes one of his workplace tirades:

“He whined about decisions that he deemed incorrect or flat-out stupid. He was intolerant of others’ deficiencies, be they real or imagined. He second-guessed his boss, but never to his face. He was sure he could do everyone’s job better than they could. He spewed venom and perfected the nuances of passive-aggressive behavior. He created chaos where none was needed. One day, he was pontificating to a co-worker about everything that was wrong in the department, the newsroom and the newspaper in general. His words were vitriolic, his attitude predictably self-righteous.”

We commend Smith for the courage that he has exhibited in publicly acknowledging that he is a recovering workplace bully who is now trying to be a better person by “focusing more on building than on destroying.  More kindness and compassion, tolerance and forgiveness, empathy and love.”

Click here to read Smith’s entire column.
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Boss at Bath and Body Works accused of religious discrimination

A former sales manager at Bath and Body Works has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the retailer for firing her on the basis of her religious beliefs.

The sales manager, who is a member of the Wiccan religion, had asked her boss, Sandra Scibelli, for time off so that she could celebrate the Wiccan new year religious holiday.

Scibelli told the sales manager, “That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard….you will ned a new career in your new year.  I will be damned if I have a devil-worshipper on my team.”

The sales manager was fired on November 2008 after she returned from her holiday vacation.  She is suing Bath and Body Works for lost wages and punitive damages for religious discrimination.

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Woman who filed sexual harassment lawsuit killed in house fire

Bianca Wisniewski Kuros, 44, was killed on Saturday when a fire engulfed her Queens, NY apartment, just two days before the first court hearing in her $20 million sexual harassment lawsuit.  One of Kuros’ two teenage daughters and two men in their 50s were critically injured in the fire, according to fire department officials.

Kuros’ attorney said that her sexual harassment lawsuit, which was filed in July against JPMorgan Chase, Total Safety Consulting, and a male coworker will continue despite her death.

The lawsuit alleges that Kuros was sexually propositioned, groped, and subjected to lewd comments by Steve Greco, an elevator engineer, on a Park Avenue construction site owned by JPMorgan Chase.

Kuros was then replaced as safety inspector in November 2007 after she complained to supervisors about Greco’s harassment and her hostile work environment.

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Kansas congressional candidate sued for creating hostile work environment

Ann Rollins Johnson, the former director of the Salina Housing Authority in Kansas, filed a lawsuit against congressional candidate Alan Jilka for allegedly making sexual advances towards Johnson and then trying to get her fired for refusing Jilka’s sexual advances

Congressional Candidate Alan Jilka

Congressional Candidate Alan Jilka

The federal lawsuit, filed on October 13, alleges that Jilka subjected Johnson to “severe, pervasive and ongoing sexual harassment by and through a hostile work environment based on her sex or gender because she would not become involved romantically” with Jilka.

Alan Jilka is a former Salina mayor and city commissioner who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the Kansas congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Jerry Moran.

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Survey: 90% of New Yorkers support workplace bullying ban

A recent online survey conducted by Dr. Lisa Barrow found that 90% of New York residents support legislation that would make workplace bullying illegal.

In another study, the New York Healthy Workplace Advocates found that 7% of New Yorkers (1.4 million people) are subjected to a hostile work environment on a regular basis.

There are currently two Healthy Workplace Bills (A5414 and S1823) before the New York State Assembly and Senate that would ban workplace bullying in New York and would hold both the bad bosses and their employers liable for not ensuring an abuse-free work environment.  Workplace bullying is defined as repetitive abusive behavior that devalues and harms other people on the job.

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Hostile work environment at Galleon Group apparently contributed to insider-trading scandal

Last month a Babson College professor wrote about the correlation between bad bosses and bad decision-making, and he explained the reasons why bad bosses played key roles in the chains of bad decisions that have led to the downfall of well-known companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers

Only one month later, we are witnessing yet another example of a company creating a hostile work environment that becomes a breeding ground for bad decisions which ultimately cripple the organization.  Galleon Group, the $3 billion hedge fund co-founded by Raj Rajaratnam that is now caught up in one of the largest insider-trading cases in decades. 

Rajaratnam and five other executives were arrested on Friday and were charged with securities fraud and conspiracy for their involvement in an insider-trading ring that allegedly traded on nonpublic information involving companies such as Google, Hilton Hotels, and IBM

Abusive bosses apparently created a hostile work environment at Galleon Group that put extreme pressure on its traders, by publicly humiliating or firing employees, to get valuable information about investment target companies. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that a “senior trader, Leon Shaulov, who wasn’t named in any federal charges, sometimes berated traders or analysts who couldn’t uncover enough information that could move stocks, say several current and former employees….Nearby, Mr. Rajaratnam would listen to the commotion through the glass door to his office. Through Galleon, Mr. Shaulov declined to comment.

People familiar with the matter say one of Mr. Shaulov’s regular targets was Gary Rosenbach, who helped start Galleon with Mr. Rajaratnam. One trader says Mr. Shaulov, in front of the rest of the staff, once turned on Mr. Rosenbach, screaming, “You’re a disease, you’re a jinx.”

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