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Sexual Harrassment/Discrimination? Wisconsin Pennsylvania

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  • Sexual Harrassment/Discrimination? Wisconsin Pennsylvania

    I was recently terminated from my position as a regional sales manager. One of my direct reports was involved in an alleged affair with the VP of national accounts. The rumors of the alleged affair surfaced back in January 2007 after a national sales meeting. The rumors began to escalate, employees both at the corporate office & in the field were discussing the inappropriate behavior displayed by my direct report and the VP. The VP was in senior management, very good friends with the president of the organization and the VP of sales. You could say he belonged to the "good ole boys club". Another disturbing piece is that my manager at the time, who was a woman, also belonged to the "good ole boys club". Even though she is female!!! That is another story, for another day!

    This created an extremely hostile work environment for me. The alleged affair limited my ability to manage my direct report. Everything I would say or do, she would take back to the VP, he in turn would spin things and take it to the president or VP of sales, or my manager. I was emotionally intimidated. I had absolutely no support from upper management, and knew that I could not go to HR, since the HR director reported directly into the President.

    A customer contacted one of our employees and asked if it was true that -- was screwing --. The talk was now outside of the organization, affecting our customer base. The sales reps were totally focused on the affair and not their day to day work. I brought this to my managers attention. Her exact words to me were that I needed to stay as far away from this situation as possible. She said, "I think the world of -- & --. I would hate to see this ruin their career". My manager made it very clear that I had to go along with the behavior or I was creating a bad attitude in the work environment. She and upper management accused me of "gossiping!!" There were other employees that came forward and told senior management what they saw regarding the inappropriate behavior. This was not gossip. All senior management had to do was review the expenses and phone records of the VP and my direct report.

    To make a very long story short. The VP was fired. A day later I was fired. My direct report is still employed with the organization. She is being promoted to a regional clinical position! Employees of the organization are outraged that she is being promoted. People feel strongly that she is being awarded for inappropriate behavior. With that said, many people are looking outside the organization for other job opportunities.

    Even though I was not sexually harrassed directly, I have been affected severely and unfairly on many different levels, professionally and personally by the offensive conduct of the VP of National Accounts and my direct report. My opinion is that I was fired for reporting their innappropriate behavior.

    The corporate office of the organization is located in Philadelphia. I'm in WI, the VP is located in TX and my direct report in MN. Do I have a case with the EEOC? If not, I'm considering filing a lawsuit against both individuals for "tortious interference". In addition to that, can I file a lawsuit for "tortious interference" against my employer?

    Thank you

  • #2
    My opinion is that I was fired for reporting their innappropriate behavior. That could be but their behavior was not illegal - just very ill-advised. If two people who work together want to have a consensual affair, no laws are being violated, although the employer is free to fire any or all of the participants if they feel the relationship is inappropriate.

    Do I have a case with the EEOC? No. What you describe does not constitute a hostile work environment and no laws were being broken by anyone. Reporting/discusing the affair is not a protected activity.

    If not, I'm considering filing a lawsuit against both individuals for "tortious interference". In addition to that, can I file a lawsuit for "tortious interference" against my employer? Anyone can file a lawsuit. I suggest you consult with an attorney to determine whether you have a valid civil claim against any of the parties involved. I don't see any however.

    Comment


    • #3
      What reason were you given for your termination?

      What was the reason for the termination of the VP?

      Comment


      • #4
        Sexual Harrassment/Discrimination WI/PA

        The first reason for my termination was that I was favoring one of my direct reports. Which is completely false and all of my direct reports would back me up on that. (Except for the rep that was having the affair).

        The second reason was that they felt that I handled the "alleged affair" situation in an ineffective manner. They felt that I rushed to judgement and I should have obtained more information before reporting it to my boss. Interestingly enough, prior to my firing, my manager told me that I handled the situation appropriately.

        PA is an "at will" state. They can fire you for wearing the wrong color shirt if they want to. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

        Comment


        • #5
          Is this the first "office romance" between an employee and a manager? If, not were the others handled differently and with different penalties?

          What was the reason for firing the VP?

          Assuming that the VP was also fired for his involvement in the "office romance," you could probably file a sex discrimination complaint alleging that the males "involved" in the "office romance" were treated more harshly than the female involved. You can probably establish a prima facie case of sex discrimination. However, I can think of several legitimate non-discriminatory reasons your employer could articulate for the difference in treatment, so prevailing would be an extraordinary long shot.

          Comment


          • #6
            Sexual Harrassment/Discrimination WI/PA

            I'm not sure if this is the first "office romance" between a manager and an employee in the organization.

            I do not know the exact reason for the VP's termination.

            Comment


            • #7
              Assuming that the VP was also fired for his involvement in the "office romance," you could probably file a sex discrimination complaint alleging that the males "involved" in the "office romance" were treated more harshly than the female involved. You can probably establish a prima facie case of sex discrimination. We don't have all the facts but I tend to disagree. The Vice President was terminated for his poor judgment and it's quite common to hold company executives to a higher standard that employees lower on the totem pole.

              Comment


              • #8
                Also, the OP does not know the exact reasons why another employee (the VP) was terminated. It is possible that the VP had previously received a final warning on this sort of thing. Many things are possible. It is difficult to try to determine a meaningful pattern based on small numbers of incidents when the full information available to the employer is not known.
                "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

                Comment


                • #9
                  I still think the OP can establish a prima facie case of sex discrimination on the facts he presents. We don't know that the VP was fired for poor judgment, although I wouldn't be surprised if that was the reason.

                  Nonetheless, it's the employer's responsibility to argue in response to a charge of sex discrimination that it didn't fire the female because it holds its managers to a higher standard or for whatever reasons formed the basis for its decisions.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Sexual Harrassment / Discrimination WI-PA

                    There may be some confusion. I am a female, my former direct report is a female and the VP is male.

                    I failed to mention that I was offered a 3 month severence package, which I refused to accept. I'm currently collecting unemployment.

                    The VP was offered a 6 month severence package, which he did accept.

                    The policy of the organization regarding severence pay is one week severence for each year employeed. I was with the company for 3yrs & 5 mos. I should have received 3 weeks per the policy. The VP was employed for 6 years. He should have received 6 weeks severence per the policy. Any thoughts on this?

                    Thank you!

                    Comment

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