The EEOC has become proactive in protecting workers from a sexually hostile work environment. In 2007, the agency recovered nearly $50 million for harassed workers. Some notable cases:
Madison Square Garden
paid VP of marketing Anucha Sanders $11.6 million in damages over harassment and retaliation by its executive in charge of basketball operations, Isiah Thomas. Sanders said she complained for a year about fraternity-style antics at the Garden, including sexual advances and inappropriate remarks. In response, Thomas fired her, allegedly for poor performance
When the case went to federal court, the Garden said instead that Sanders had been fired for interfering with the internal investigation by hounding other employees to support her case. Sanders v. MadisonSquareGarden, et al., No. 06-Civ-589, SD NY (2007)
United HealthCare of Florida paid $1.8 million to settle an EEOC lawsuit over same-sex harassment and retaliation on behalf of a male former senior account executive.
The account executive complained several times to upper management
that the male former regional vice president of key accounts repeatedly was verbally harassing him. United HealthCare reportedly responded by disciplining the account executive and denying him stock options and commissions. The account executive even complained to parent company United HealthGroup Inc. before finally quitting because of the retaliation.
Jewel Food Stores of Boise, ID, settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with four female employees for $200,000 over lewd behavior by a meat department manager. He also racially harassed three of the plaintiffs, who are black, frequently using the “n” word.
The manager had a history of harassing employees. But rather than discipline him, Jewel had simply transferred him to the next store, where eight employees testified he harassed them. Two quit to get away from him. Following the lawsuit, Jewel demoted him but did not fire him.
Larry H. Miller Toyota of Denver paid a sexual harassment verdict of $3.1 million to two former female managers. The women complained that a general manager groped them and continually made offensive sexual comments. The behavior was bad enough, but the women said what drove them into court was the company’s response to their complaints.
The women, both managers who wanted to make a career at the dealership, said management insulted and berated them in front of other employees and customers. One dealership executive allegedly told a manager to “get rid of the troublemakers.” One of the women was accused of mismanaging the books, and ultimately they both were fired. In 2007, a jury awarded $3.1 million in damages, a state record for a sexual harassment case.
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