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$1,000 fine a day should keep the harassment away

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Think you can close the book on an em­­­ployment lawsuit once you’ve paid off the jury verdict? Think again. As a new ruling shows, the court can still have its claws around your organization’s throat for a long time …

Case in Point: Two teen employees of an IHOP restaurant in Racine, Wis., filed sexual harassment claims with the EEOC. They won a verdict of $105,000.

But the court added another caveat to the verdict: It required the owners to post a notice of the jury verdict in a conspicuous location in all 17 of the franchise’s restaurants. The court in­­tended to make sure other employees knew about the unacceptable behavior and the remedies available to them through the EEOC.

The owners refused to post the no­­tice, claiming that doing so would cause “irreparable harm” to the franchise.

Too bad, said the court. It held the owners in contempt of court and fined them $1,000 for each day the notices weren’t posted in all 17 locations.

“Posting notices in sexual harassment cases is important because the notices increase the odds that any victims of illegal activity will know their rights and that they can always complain to the EEOC,” says Jean Kamp, the EEOC’s associate regional attorney for Milwaukee. (EEOC v. Management Hospitality of Racine Inc., E.D. Wis.)

Lessons learned: Post your anti-harassment policy. It’s more proactive than to have to reactively post a notice with a sexual harassment verdict against you. And post whatever the court tells you to post. Or, it will cost you big time.

Individually, the courts and the EEOC are powerful entities. Together they are a superpower.

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