Ohio Sexual Harassment Attorney Best Answer: Who can I sue for my boss making sexual comments to me? What should I do if my manager keeps kissing me and rubbing his erect penis against me? Is my boss allowed to post negative things about me on social media for refusing sexual advances?
In the past ten years HBO has become well known for its TV series as opposed to showing movies. Although HBO released popular programs in the 80’s and early 90’s, but in the late 90’s they really hit it big with shows like Sex and the City, and The Sopranos. These were followed up with a string of hits including the series based on the rise of Mark Wahlberg‘s celebrity status in Entourage. Entourage featured a New York actor who hit it big in L.A. and brought his friends and brother along for the ride. One of the most memorable characters in the series is Ari Gold played by Jeremy Piven. Ari is a big time agent whose crude and abusive comments and lewd behavior are well known in the industry. Notably, Ari treats his assistants very poorly, including commenting on his Asian assistant’s national origin and sexual orientation in a highly offensive manner.
While it may be comical to watch Ari lay into a rival agent or his assistant on TV, it seems inconceivable that a boss in the real world would behave in such a manner. And just when you thought you heard it all, consider the case of Hanna Bouveng and Benjamin Wey. Wey is the CEO of New York Global Group “NYGC” who is famous for both having access to a billion dollars in capital and his blog, “The Blot.”
According to Bouveng’s court filings, in the fall of 2013, Wey hired her to be NYGC’s Director of Corporate Communications. During her employment at NYGC, Bouveng alleges that Wey engaged in the following unlawful conduct:
- Regularly commenting on her appearance;
- Purchased tight clothing for her;
- Put his arm around her waist, kissed her cheek, and ogled her;
- Insisting that Bouveng attend dinner with him at least two nights per week, and gradually increased the requirement to most nights during the week and weekends; and
- Complaining about his wife, and telling Boveng he wanted to leave his wife for her.
Talk about a sexually hostile work environment! Eventually, spending time with Bouveng was not enough for Wey, and Bouveng claimed that he upped his game and began to try and kiss her, grab her, embrace her, and touch her. Wey attempted to have sex with Bouveng during two business trips, and Bouveng initially refused his advances. After the trips, Wey began to pressure Bouveng to move out of her apartment and into one that he financed. After Bouveng moved, Wey showed up at her apartment and demanded that Bouveng sit close to him while he massaged her shoulders and kissed her neck. Bouveng again rejected the advances and Wey retaliated at work by giving Bouveng the cold shoulder and glaring at her.
In the winter of 2013, Wey and Bouveng attended a business trip to Dubai and shared a hotel room with only one bed. Wey got into the bed naked, and hugged Bouveng while pressing his erection into her back. After this trip, Wey gave Bouveng a $2,000 Prada handbag, followed her back to her apartment and forced her to have sex with him. When Bouveng attempted to stop the sexual relationship, Wey threatened to terminate her, ruin her professional reputation, arrange for her visa to be withdrawn, and turn her apartment over to another NYGC employee.
In April 2014, Wey appeared at Bouveng’s apartment and found Bouveng’s male friend sleeping on the couch. Wey immediately evicted Bouveng, terminated her, and told her his company would no longer sponsor her visa.
Things really heated up after Bouveng’s termination. Wey began to send emails and contact Bouveng’s friends and family asserting that Bouveng was involved in a sex scandal, was sleeping with a Black man who was a dangerous criminal, and that she was terminated for alcohol abuse and constant partying. Refusing to stop there, Wey posted pictures of Bouveng on Facebook next to pornographic and explicit drug-related images. Wey then turned to his blog and called Bouveng a “Swedish party girl who had just landed in New York’s nightclubs after providing ‘entertainment’ in the nightclubs and casino houses of Hong Kong and Macau.” Wey even went after Bouveng’s attorneys calling them, “shady,” “ambulance chasers,” “a bunch of scumbags,” “low lives,” and “as bad and dirty as it gets.”
In her wrongful termination and quid pro quo sexual harassment Complaint, Bouveng sued both NYGC, Wey, and the subsidiary company responsible for publishing Wey’s blog. Wey and his attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the claims against the company responsible for the blog claiming that FNL media was not Bouveng’s employer. After analyzing the claim, the court ultimately allowed the issue to proceed to a jury:
The [Second Amended Complaint] contains sufficient factual allegations to demonstrate that NYGG and FNL Media constitute a “single, integrated enterprise.” The SAC states that “Defendant FNL Media . . . was and remains a division of and/or the wholly-owned subsidiary of Defendant NYGG,” and that “Defendants NYGG and FNL Media LLC operated as a single or joint enterprise.” The SAC also pleads that, “[t]hroughout Plaintiff’s employment, Defendants NYGG and FNL Media shared the same offices on Wall Street, as well as the same management, ownership, and interrelated operations.” The SAC further alleges that Defendant Wey is the “highest-ranking executive, manager, supervisor and employee” of both NYGG and FNL Media. The SAC goes on to state that “[t]hroughout [Plaintiff’s] employment with Defendant [NYGG], Plaintiff . . . also worked for Defendant FNL Media LLC.” “While Plaintiff . . . was formally employed by Defendant NYGG, throughout her employment with Defendant NYGG she was assigned by [Defendant Wey] to work for Defendant FNL Media, including on its business development.” Plaintiff also “attended internal meetings with [Defendant Wey] and General Counsel James Baxter and various Defendant FNL Media employees . . . concerning Blot Magazine content (which Defendant Wey dictated), budget, and marketing. . . .” These allegations demonstrate that NYGG and FNL Media have interrelated operations, common management, and common financial ownership.
Defendants argue, however, that the SAC does not plead facts demonstrating that NYGG and FNL Media share “centralized control of labor relations.” The SAC does not specifically plead that NYGG and FNL Media exercised joint control over Plaintiff’s employment at NYGG. However, the SAC alleges that (1) Wey was the highest ranking executive at both NYGG and FNL Media; (2) Wey assigned Plaintiff to work on certain projects for FNL Media; (3) Plaintiff performed work for FNL Media at Wey’s direction; and (4) Wey made the decision to terminate Plaintiff’s employment.
Given that the question of “[w]hether two related entities are sufficiently integrated to be treated as a single employer is generally a question of fact not suitable to resolution on a motion to dismiss,” the SAC’s allegations are sufficient at the motion to dismiss stage. Defendant FNL Media’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s NYSHRL and NYCHRL claims will be denied.
In the face of all the evidence presented by Bouveng and the defendants, the jury ultimately found in favor of Bouveng and awarded her $18 million. Ultimately, there was a lesson to be learned from the real-life Ari Gold: it doesn’t pay to harass and demean subordinate employees.
Although this case involves high powered Wall Street executives and residents of New York, that doesn’t mean that the situations, issues, and legal analysis contained in this blog are 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 Spitz, The Employee’s 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 Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.