Best Ohio Sexual Harassment Attorney Answer: Can I be fired for complaining about sexual harassment? Is the company that I work for responsible for my boss making sexual comments to me? Who can I sue for sexual harassment and wrongful termination?
So, with the news that Isaiah Thomas is back with the New York Knicks family coaching for their WNBA team, our employment discrimination attorneys circle back to what got him fired in the first place. Certainly, Thomas had a storied career as a basketball player in the NBA. He is the all-time leading scorer for the Detroit Pistons, helped lead his team to win back to back championships in the late 80’s, and was voted the MVP of the 1990 NBA finals averaging 27.6 points per game. He is ranked fifth in the league’s history for assists and ninth for steals. In 2000 he was elected to the Basketball hall of fame the first year he became eligible.
Thomas is also known for his skill at business and generosity for charity, however, he has had his share of controversy and scandal including rumors of hostility and conflict with basketball legend Michael Jordan and a scandal turned lawsuit dating back to 2006 that continues to make headlines today. In 2003, the New York Knicks hired Thomas. During his time at Madison Square Garden, he interacted with a female executive, Vice President for Marketing and Business Operations, Anucha Browne Sanders. Sanders claimed that there was a boys’ club atmosphere at the Garden. She alleged that Thomas called her a “bitch” and a “ho” and made sexual advances toward her by encouraging her to visit him, “off site.” Thomas denied most of the allegations except for an incident in December 2005 where he tried to kiss Sanders on the cheek. When Sanders turned away he asked, “No love today?” During the three week trial, numerous details came out including the testimony of the Knicks star player at the time, Stephon Marbury, who admitted to having sex with an intern in his car.
Sanders claimed that just before she was fired from her job with the Knicks where she was making $260,000 per year, that she complained about Thomas’ behavior. Sanders also reached out to other employees at Madison Square Garden to request their support for her complaint. The Chairman of the Garden, James Dolan, claimed that he believed Sanders’ claims to be meritless and may have admitted to firing Sanders based in part on his belief that her claim was false, and that she “pressured” subordinate employees to bolster her false claim. In a pre trial motion, the judge ruled that any mentions of monetary demands made by Sanders would be excluded as settlement communications, and also reconsidered a portion of his previous ruling that was not in Plaintiff’s favor. One issue in the case was whether an employer could fire an employee for making a false claim of harassment. In the review of the prior ruling, the court held that:
If an employer were permitted to fire employees who protested alleged illegal discrimination, simply because the employer believed the complaints were unfounded or malicious, the employees’ protection would be illusory. Employers could easily make false claims that they disbelieved in the employees’ good faith. But it is not just a question of possible false defenses. Undoubtedly, many employers do in fact believe that employees’ complaints of discrimination are completely without merit. But the law requires the employer to tolerate such complaints, and not to retaliate because of them. So long as the employee in fact acts in good faith when she brings a discrimination complaint, she is absolutely protected against retaliation for her complaint, even if the employer’s alleged conduct does not actually violate Title VII. See Wimmer v. Suffolk County Police Dep’t, 176 F.3d 125, 135-36 (2d. Cir.1999), citing Quinn v. Green Tree Credit Corp., 159 F.3d 759, 768-69 (2d Cir.1998). She only loses this protection if she is in fact acting in bad faith. Although employees who make up false complaints of discrimination are not protected by the act, see Spadola v. N.Y. City Trans. Auth., 242 F.Supp.2d 284, 292 (S.D.N.Y.2003), if an employer chooses to fire an employee for making false or bad faith accusations, he does so at his peril, and takes the risk that a jury will later disagree with his characterization.
The jury found in favor of Sanders and awarded her $11.6 million dollars, which did not include an award of punitive damages against Thomas. Because the jurors could not agree on this specific issue, Sanders would have had a new trial on that issue alone, not to mention appeals and the potential for the judge to reduce the award in some fashion. Ultimately, the parties settled for $11.5 million dollars negating any options for appeals.
Because Madison Square Garden refused to settle prior to trial, the details of the allegations were brought into the public eye. At the point the parties settled, essentially, the cat was out of the bag. Which is why the case was brought back into the headlines recently when Dolan, the owner of WNBA team, New York Liberty, rehired Thomas as the President and part owner of the women’s team. Statements were issued by both camps with one side denying the allegations, and the other side condemning Thomas the team’s “attempt to rewrite history.” This case is different from many sexual harassment claims in several ways. For instance, many employers wish to keep scandalous sexual details out of the news and away from critical public opinions so they engage in settlements prior to a splashy trial. In these situations, the employer will most likely request that confidentiality is part of the settlement which usually includes details of the claim and allegations, settlement negotiations, and details of any financial compensation.
Although this case involves famous athletes, professional sports teams, and residents of New York, that doesn’t mean that the situations, issues, and legal analysis contained in this blog is not applicable to employees in Ohio. If you are an employee in Ohio and have experienced behavior or conduct similar to what is contained in this blog then you may have a claim. Most Ohio employees are protected by Federal and State laws in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio Revised Code § 4112.02(A). These laws are in place to prevent employers from making critical employment related decisions based on gender, and/or protected activity of reporting sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar Ohio laws. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. 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. Sexual harrassment is a form of gender discrimination, and employers should be held accountable if they discriminate against female workers in any fashion – but particularly for sexual harrassment. It does not matter if you have been wrongfully fired or are still employed, there is no reason to wait to find out what your legal rights are and how to protect yourself from sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
The materials available at the top of this page and at this gender discrimination, wrongful termination, and sex harassment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking “what should I do …”, “I’m being sexually harassed …” “my supervisor grabbed my…”, “my boss is touching…,” “I’ve been wrongfully terminated,” or “how do I …”, your best course is to 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 the top of this page or through this employment law website are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of the Spitz law firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.