Goodwill Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Goodwill Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

July, 2018

Goodwill Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Eight current and former employees in Northern California will receive $850,000 due to proving allegations of sexual harassment on the night shift. How does this case affect your Columbus sexual harassment claim?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, six of the claimants were young women with developmental disabilities who were at their very first jobs. The action also covered two managers who were fired or otherwise disciplined for reporting problems. One former employee said that her first job was a very empowering experience. “But after my boss put his arms around me, I did not feel safe at work [and] my complaints were ignored,” she said.

“The #MeToo movement illustrates that sexual harassment impacts people across industries, from white collar to blue collar work, across class, race, age, gender and abilities, [so] employers must take proactive measures to stop predators who would abuse their power over vulnerable workers,” commented EEOC San Francisco District Director William R. Tamayo.

Workplace Sexual Harassment in Ohio

At least a quarter of Columbus workers experience some form of sexual harassment at work. Isolated comments or crude jokes are probably not actionable. But if the verbal, physical, or other harassment reaches the point where victims cannot do their jobs properly, there may be a claim for relief. Most of these claims fall into one of the two following categories:

  • Quid Pro Quo (This for That): In the movies, it is romantic when a boss asks an employee to discuss work matters “over dinner.” But in the real world, such conduct can be intolerable. Employers cannot base decisions regarding conditions of employment on anything other than job performance-related factors which are entirely without personal preference.
  • Hostile Environment: In addition to the jokes and comments mentioned above, offensive computer wallpaper and other such items can be considered part of a hostile environment. The environment is legally hostile if the sexual harassment causes workers to feel threatened, or if they cannot devote 100 percent of their attention to the task at hand.  The hostile acts must be severe or pervasive.

Damages in a Columbus sexual harassment lawsuit usually include money for both economic losses, such as lost wages, and for non-economic losses, such as emotional distress. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some cases.

Many employers close sexual harassment investigations too quickly and without uncovering all the facts. An attorney can dig deeper and reveal additional evidence, such as additional witnesses, that assist the victim’s cause.

Retaliation Claims in Ohio

The EEOC receives more retaliation charges than any other kind of employment discrimination charges. In fact, most employment discrimination claims involve both the underlying discrimination and the employer’s retaliation against the worker or manager who complained. These charges have three basic elements:

  • Participation in a Protected Activity: This participation could be serving as a witness in a sexual harassment case or reporting said harassment. Both these activities are protected under federal law.
  • Material Adverse Action: Termination, reassignment, and censure are all clearly adverse actions. These and other similar actions might deter another person from engaging in the protected conduct.
  • Causal Connection: There must be a link between the protected activity and the adverse action. At times, a temporal link may be sufficient, especially if the employer’s materially adverse action occurs within a short time of the employee engaging in protected activity.

As long as an employee has an honest, reasonable belief that a discriminatory practice is occurring, complaining about it or participating in a related investigation will most likely be protected action, even if an investigation later reveals that no discrimination has occurred.  If the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the employer must either conclusively disprove one of the elements or establish an independent defense.

Reach Out to Assertive Attorneys

All workers have the right to be free of sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace. For a free consultation with an experienced employment discrimination attorney in Columbus, contact Marshall & Forman LLC. Our main office is conveniently located in downtown Columbus.