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  • Situation-Arizona

    Here's the situation:

    A high level executive manger (regional manager for multiple areas) has a long (5+ years) verified history of sexual harassment behavior by employees & vendors of multiple offices. Numerous workers have felt uncomfortable and have had little choice but to put up with unwanted sexual advances: kissing, jokes to sleep with the "boss", intimate relationships with employees/vendors (Exec has been caught in the act!). The company this Exec works for merged with a publicly traded company recently so now there are official rules regarding the conduct (e.g. compliance line).

    A 65+ year old worker, 5+ year plus tenure, was called into the manager's office a little bit after closing (5:15p) at the end of the week. The Exec. called the employee over, pulled the employee's neck in & kissed the employee on the lips. The Exec then proceeded to turn off the lights and shut the office door. The employee was terrified and in shock. The employee yanked open the door and ran to their car. The employee was afraid the Exec would show up at the employee's house that weekend and locked all doors/windows at home. Monday the employee reported it to the corporate compliance line.

    Corporate sent an attorney to conduct an investigation while the Exec was put on leave. A week later the Exec. was given allowed to return to work by the Exec's supervisor. The word on the situation was that more than likely the incident was just a hug/gesture that was more than likely misconstrued.

    What should the terrified employee do now? Would you advise that the terrified employee consult with a Sexual Harassment lawyer? By this account, would you think this employee has a chance at a case? The employee isn't interested in a huge settlement, just justice for all involved. Should the employee just suck it up and try to find other work somewhere else (difficult at that age)?

    Thank you for your time and consideration in advance. While I know this isn't legal advice, any thoughts or tips from people in this type of situation (or that have been involved) would be really helpful. I'm a long time lurker and miss PattyMD.
    Last edited by anonymousMD; 02-08-2012, 10:55 AM.

  • #2
    Wow. That sucks! Unfortunately, such situations remain tragically commonplace.

    Your friend should promptly consult directly with a knowledgeable employment law attorney to explore her options. Counsel can, inter alia, potentially offer invaluable advice as to how to navigate the legal and practical issues she will face.

    IMHO, particularly in light of this managerís purported history of sexual harassment, she may succeed in advancing a case that this individual did not innocuously hug her, but intentionally and salaciously groped her. If she can adduce evidence of his prior misconduct, she would appear to have solid grounds in pursuing a hostile environment sexual harassment action against the employer.

    With respect to returning to work, I strongly would recommend she do so. She did not do anything wrong here! (If she requires counseling-therapy to deal with any psychological aftermath of this incident, she should definitely seek it as soon as possible.)


    • #3
      I hate when this happens, so my evil mind is going to say something that the HR folks won't like. If she is fearing for her safety at work, or experiencing stress/anxiety, etc. while being forced to work with this jerk, she should see a doctor, and if needed, go out on disability. She should absolutely keep records, on her own time, with her own pen and paper, of anything he does that seems related to the sexual harrassment claim. If she goes out on disability, she should also file a worker's comp claim. State disability and Worker's comp will work it out if there is a worker's comp settlement. She absolutely shouldn't quit.
      I am not an attorney, and don't play one on TV. Any information given is a description only and should be verified by your attorney.


      • #4
        Originally posted by anonymousMD View Post
        I'm a long time lurker and miss PattyMD.
        Patty's passing was very sad - we all miss her.
        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

        Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.


        • #5
          The employee isn't interested in a huge settlement, just justice for all involved.

          I would be interested in that, too. I would make sure that if others are affected by his behavior, they should report it immediately. It sounds like he has been able to get away with something for too long, but the new regime will have to address it. If there is anyone who is still be harrassed or assaulted by his unwelcome advances, they should report him now.

          Frankly, the investigation and the suspension may scare him into behaving for a little while. It may also make him angry at her. Hopefully they have already told her, but if there is any perceived retaliation against the ee who made the complaint, she should promptly report it.

          Good luck to her.


          • #6
            Thank you everyone! I will pass on all of your comments/suggestions to the individual. Thanks again.


            • #7
              I suggest your friend see an employment law attorney asap.

              Under the laws that prohibit sex discrimination/harassment, an employer is obligated to take all reasonable measures to make the harassment permanently cease. Because this executive has a lengthy history of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct in the workplace, this most recent incident could have been entirely avoided if the employer had acted appropriately in the past, which most likely was to terminate this jerk.

              Since the employer has not taken the appropriate remedial action (i.e. fire the guy), your friend may have one heck of a SH complaint and subsequent lawsuit to bring. If your friend experiences any further inappropriate behavior from this man, she should report it to HR immediately.


              • #8
                Do you have an HR department or atleast an HR person? Reprt the matter to your HR immediately.


                • #9
                  This happened over two years ago. Please pay attention to the date on the posts before replying.
                  I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.