A lesson for managers and supervisors: if you are aware of sexual harassment in the workplace and you fail to do anything about it, you are exposing your company to a great deal of liability and exposure.
Take the recent case involving The Geo Group, Inc., for example. In a lawsuit against GEO, a prison management company, the complaint charged that GEO’s male managers sexually harassed numerous female employees. The male managers also fostered a hostile work environment steeped in intimidation and harassment. The sexual harassment included both serious verbal harassment and physical harassment. One of the specific allegations in the lawsuit is that a male manager grabbed a female subordinate employee, sat on top of her, and forcibly tried to kiss her. The complaint also alleged that another male manager regularly made crude, obscene, and suggestive sexual remarks. What’s worse, these sexual remarks were frequently made in front of other members of management, who did nothing to stop the harassment. But, the law does not allow employers, by and through their managers, to turn a blind eye to sexual harassment.
Trial began on April 23, 2013. Three days after the start of trial, the case settled. As we have told clients, some clients, there is never a clear indication of when a case may settle. Employment law cases may settle after sending a letter of representation, while other, like this one, may settle during trial. A few of the cases may actually have to be tried. It is not only the willingness to try cases to a jury but the experience that attorneys have that increase the value of cases when they do settle.
Under the terms of the settlement in this case, GEO agreed to pay $140,000.00 to two female victims. Additionally, the settlement requires that GEO:
- review, revise, post and distribute its anti-discrimination policies and procedures;
- provide training to all employees on gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace;
- arrange for all complaints of sexual harassment and/or retaliation at the Florence West facility to be investigated by GEO’s Office of Professional Responsibility from its headquarters in Boca Raton or a designee;
- establish procedures required for sexual harassment investigations; and
- develop and implement a management evaluation system at Florence West that includes EEO compliance, compliance with policies and laws prohibiting retaliation, and compliance with the decree.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from discrimination based upon sex, including sexual harassment. Ohio law similarly prohibits sexual harassment. R.C. § 4112-5-05(J)(1) provides that: “Harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of division (A) of section 4112.02 of the Revised Code. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: (a) Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment; (b) Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or (c) Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.”
If you feel that you are being sexually harassed or are working in a sexually charged or hostile working environment, you should not wait to call the right attorney at 866-797-6040 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At The Spitz Law Firm, you will meet with a sexual harassment lawyer/hostile work environment attorney to find out what your legal rights are and the best way to protect them.
The materials available at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. It is best contact an Ohio sexual harassment attorney/hostile work environment lawyer to obtain advice with respect to sexual harassment /hostile work environment questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm or any individual attorney