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Letterman case shines spotlight on workplace sexual harassment policies

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Harassment among hot employment law topics on tap at LEAP2009 Washington Conference, Nov. 4 – 6
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
John Wilcox
BusinessManagementDaily.com
(800) 543-2055, ext. 4506
jwilcox@nibm.net

Limiting employers' legal liability for sexual harassment will be one of the topics covered in-depth at the upcoming Labor and Employment Law Advanced Practices Symposium Washington Conference, taking place Nov. 4 – 6 in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.LEAP2009.com.

David Letterman has come under fire recently for having sex with employees of his late-night CBS talk show. But while Letterman may be guilty of bad judgment (he’s unlikely to make any Top 10 Lists of good bosses), does his misbehavior rise to the level of sexual harassment?

No charges have been filed against Letterman. In fact, the only person in legal hot water is the former CBS producer accused of blackmailing Letterman about one of his affairs. So while Letterman may be guilty of violating CBS’s workplace sex policy—a firing offense itself—his actions would seem to fall short of harassment.

However, the EEOC did file a recent sexual harassment suit—ironically, against Cleveland-based Dave’s Markets. The commission alleges that the grocery chain, which operates 13 stores and employs about 1,500 workers, tolerated a workplace rife with sexual harassment.

The lawsuit claims that a longtime male manager made repeated and unwanted sexual advances against female employees, and the company did nothing to stop it even though it knew what was happening.

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Visit www.LEAP2009.com to learn more about the LEAP 2009 Washington Conference—and how you can combat liability for sexual harassment in your workplace.
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Rising tide of sexual harassment lawsuits

The Dave’s Markets case is just one of a number of recent sexual harassment charges against companies:

An employee of Texas’s Allstar Erosion Control gave notice and left abruptly after her husband exchanged angry words with the company president. The employee then sued, alleging the president had sexually harassed her.

She said she had complained to her immediate supervisor. But since the company’s harassment policy required an employee to complain to successive levels of management until his or her problem was rectified, the court dismissed the case. (Valles v. Frazier, et al., No. SA-08-CA-501, WD TX, 2009)

A manager for a Pennsylvania PetSmart store got his employer in the doghouse after he sexually harassed female employees. The manager often grabbed his genitals while talking to female employees.

When female employees complained, PetSmart failed to address the women’s concerns. The company settled for $125,000, and agreed to obedience classes on the sexual harassment for all employees.

EEOC cracks down

Companies that evade harassment problems not only HAVE a policy—they ENFORCE it. Thorough documentation of complaints is also a key to success. Harassment is one of those head-in-the-sand issues that many companies don’t deal with—till they’re facing an EEOC suit.

To make sure you’re prepared, LEAP 2009the Labor and Employment Law Advanced Practices Symposium—is running a session called Workplace Harassment—New Claims, More Litigation. On Thursday, November 5th, top employment attorneys C.B. Burns and Jonathan Pearson will discuss how the courts are increasingly imposing “codes of conduct” in the workplace, rather than focusing on harassment as a form of discrimination.

How could this impact your policies? Come to the LEAP 2009 Washington Conference to find out.

Harassment also will be the focus of an interactive, D.C.-style “power breakfast” on Friday the 6th. Ask your questions directly to one of our attorneys—and hear the problems your colleagues are wrestling with, too.

Early Bird Deadline Extended. ACT NOW!

The LEAP 2009 Washington Conference will be held November 4-6 at the Washington Marriott at Metro Center, in the heat of our nation’s capital. This unique meeting will feature over 30 of America’s top HR and employment law pros, covering the legal, regulatory, and best-practices topics that are crossing your desk—and your mind.

The Early Bird Discount—saving you $100.00 off the price others must pay—has expired. But readers have a few more days to take advantage of this special savings opportunity.

Visit www.LEAP2009.com, or call (800) 543-2055, to register.

Attendees will receive complete course materials … a six-month subscription to the HR Specialist: Employment Law newsletter … PLUS six months of access to HR Specialist’s PREMIUM PLUS online HR service—a combined $453.50 value—absolutely FREE!

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