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Coddle repeat harasser at your own risk–you could be courting huge penalties

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

If you have doubts about what you should do with a serial harasser, the following case should clear things up.

Recent case: Mistie Parker worked for a Lenoir furniture manufacturer. She claimed over the course of her time with the company, she was constantly sexually harassed by a male co-worker.

Parker frequently complained to the company owners and the HR staff. She said the co-worker commented on her breasts and posterior, requested oral sex and intercourse, grabbed her and pulled her into isolated areas.

The company fired the co-worker several times as a result of Parker’s complaints and because he got into aggressive arguments with others. But each time, the company rehired him, ostensibly because it could not find anyone else with his specialized skills who would work for the small amount of money they paid him.

Then Parker participated in an un­­employment compensation hearing after the harasser was again fired. She testified on behalf of the employer about the harassment, helping the company’s efforts to avoid paying unemployment compensation.

But then it rehired the man anyway. When he showed up at work, he allegedly told others that he was going to escalate the harassment. That was enough for Parker, who quit and sued.

The court ordered a trial, saying Parker had legitimate claims for sexual harassment as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress under North Carolina law. It said she was also eligible for punitive damages, which essentially means her potential claim is unlimited. (Parker v. Kin­­caid, No. 5:10-CV-97, WD NC, 2011)

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