Cincinnati-based Everdry Marketing and, a waterproofing firm, has paid more than $500,000 to satisfy a judgment won by a group of 13 women who filed sexual harassment claims against the company.
Most of the women were teenagers when they worked for Everdry at its Rochester, N.Y., facility. They claimed they had to work in a pervasive and sexually charged hostile environment where managers and co-workers consistently told off-color jokes and promised the women raises and advancement in return for sexual favors.
The case went to trial in 2006 and a federal jury in New York awarded the group $585,000, which included punitive damages. The award was later reduced to $471,096.
Everdry appealed, claiming it wasn’t responsible for the behavior of its franchisee in Rochester. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed that argument and affirmed the verdict.
Final note: This case illustrates the importance of conducting sexual harassment training throughout an organization, no matter how it’s structured. Bad franchisee behavior will ultimately harm the parent company because plaintiffs usually go for the deepest pockets. As a result, parent companies have an interest in how their franchisees treat their employees. Ignoring franchisee behavior is not an option.
Companies must ensure that all management personnel are trained not only to avoid participating in sexual harassment, but to recognize it and stop it when co-workers engage in it.