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Small harassment settlement, hold the money in coffee case

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The owner of a coffee shop next door to Camden’s City Hall has flat-out refused to pay a $75,000 settlement intended to resolve six sexual harassment complaints filed by women who once worked there.

The women’s problem: City Coffee owner Robert Ford says he never signed a settlement agreement—and doesn’t plan to.

Ford’s problem: The judge who presided over the women’s harassment case says an agreement is an agreement—and he must pay.

The women sued Ford in 2010, and a jury found he had harassed one of them. However, prosecutorial improprieties led to a mistrial, and a new trial was scheduled.

But then Ford and prosecutors reached a verbal agreement to settle the case. The trial was canceled, but Ford never actually signed the settlement papers. Now the judge has ruled the agreement is binding and that Ford must pay $15,000 to be split among the six women. If Ford provides sexual harassment training and no employees file harassment claims against him in the next three years, the remaining $60,000 in damages will be dropped.

Before this case made headlines, City Coffee gained renown for some of its more unusual menu items—including on-site mouth-swabbing services for moms, babies and putative dads preparing for mail-order paternity tests.

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