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Sexual harrasment or Hostile work environment in MA?

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  • Sexual harrasment or Hostile work environment in MA?

    My fiance has been working at a restaurant for 8 months. She was promoted to bar manager then to office manager/ bar manager.

    As the business is new there's a lot of stress. Her boss, the owner, had been progressively rude and insulting to her over the past few months.

    He told her to take off her engagement ring, wear a short miniskirt, wear tighter clothes, flirt with customers and even told her she looked pregnant even though she is a tiny girl. SHe dealth with all of this but told him to knock it off.

    The christmas party was scheduled at a strip club and he stated it was mandatory for her to go since she was management. She continuously refused but eventually felt her job title meant she should. She got drunk to deal with it. He bought us a lap dance and while we went to a private room, he came in. I told him to leave. My fiance ended up, after being begged by the strippers, flashing them. Something completely out of her character. Turns out the boss was spying on us through a mirror. He went back and told not only employees but customers as well.

    Then things got worse. Last night he had two bottles of wine and got some female customers down to their undergarments at the bar late night. My fiance was working and walked out back for a while to avoid it. When she got back he demanded she dance on the bar. She refused and things escalated. He commented on her appearance, her nails and more in front of a customer who came to her defense. He repeated that he had "seen her tits" as well.

    Then to another employee he asked how long it had been since you could hit your employees. He tried to bet her she wouldn't be married in a year. He bet her she couldn't find a job that paid as well in a week.

    After customers and other employees left, he wanted to continue. She told him she wasn't going to talk to him in that condition and he let off a string of insults. Made fun of her because her father had an affair and left her mother, told her she was cold and needed to lighten up, told her their was a reason her sister was unmarried, insulted me and our relationship.

    After being yelled at while trying to cash out and close up alone with a belligerent drunk boss she snapped and gave her two weeks notice.

    Considering she repeatedly told him her personal life was off limits and that she didn't apply to a Hooters restaurant, would she have any sexual harrasment or hostile work environment case? She has at least one fellow employee willing to back her up as well as numerous witnesses.

  • #2
    Yep, I would say that's valid reason to call MCAD and/or the EEOC.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


    • #3
      Thanks for the quick reply.

      Since she quit last night is there a time limit?

      She's extremely hesitant since she doesn't want to be "labeled" and risk not being able to find other employment. But at the same time doesn't want to let him get away with it.


      • #4
        Yes, there is a time limit; it's 180 days after the last instance of harassment. However, the sooner she files, the better.

        Unless she tells them, a prospective employer will not know that she has filed a complaint with MCAD or the EEOC. But in my opinion if a prospective employer is looking for references, she should let them know that she is unlikely to get a good reference from this employer because she has had to file an SH complaint and the case is still pending. She does not need to provide details. Any employer who would "label" her because of that, in my opinion is not one she wants to work for. She should also line up some references among co-workers or other managers who will be willing to speak on her behalf.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


        • #5
          I had read on their sites about the 180 days but didn't know if quitting affected that limit.

          What happens after a complaint is filed? An investigation? To what end?


          • #6
            The regulatory agency, whichever one she files will, will investigate to determine if sexual harassment actually did take place. It will not be a short process - think in terms of months. At the end of the investigation, they will either take the case themselves (unlikely but possible) or issue her a right-to-sue letter (much more likely). She has 90 days from the issuance of the right to sue letter to file a lawsuit.

            Quitting does not affect the 180 day requirement. She has 180 days from the last instance of harassment to file her complaint regardless of her employment status.
            The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


            • #7
              thanks for all your help. Very much appreciated.


              • #8
                Another question popped up today.

                She went into work and was told he was taking away her bar manager and bartender shifts so she could concentrate on training someone for her position in the office. As tips are part of her wages it is essentially a pay cut for her two weeks notice.

                Is that legal?

                BTW - we did contact the lawyer that the other employee who will back her up has spoken to about the owner. We are waiting for him to call back with an appointment time.

                She just wants to talk to a lawyer before filing a complaint with MCAD/EEOC.