New Jersey’s Division on Civil Rights has filed suit against City Coffee, a café in downtown Camden, following numerous complaints of sexual harassment. Six former employees claim that café owner Ronald Ford Jr. repeatedly touched them and asked them to have sex with him. The women alleged that Ford carefully conducted all his inappropriate acts out of view of surveillance cameras in the small café.
One woman claims Ford often called her into his office alone to issue her pay, then made unwanted physical advances and asked her to pose nude for photos. Another says he asked her to come into his office, where he straddled her and pulled her arms around him while discussing a “quid pro quo” offer of an assistant manager position. When the woman complained to fellow employees, and then to Camden police, he fired her.
It’s rare for the state to file a lawsuit against a private employer on employees’ behalf, but a Civil Rights Division spokesman said the violations in this case were “egregious” enough to warrant it. The state is seeking a court order stop the harassment plus compensation to the victims for emotional distress and humiliation. The lawsuit also calls for training and monitoring by the division for two years.
Final note: This case is yet another reminder that sexual harassment is still a serious problem. Make sure there is a way for employees to report alleged harassment so the problem can be corrected before a lawsuit is filed.
- Treat all harassers equally, regardless of their sex
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- Focus on ability to perform duties if you worry worker may have mental or emotional problems
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