Townsend Oil and Propane bought Nichols Oil & Gas in Macedon seven years ago. Turns out, the company also bought liability for harassment committed more than a decade ago by the former owner.
Under the terms of a just-reached settlement, Townsend must pay $150,000 to women who claim they were sexually harassed by the man who owned and ran Nichols Oil & Gas.
According to the women’s complaint to the EEOC, the owner routinely grabbed their breasts and buttocks and lewdly propositioned them. Although the incidents occurred between 1999 and 2003, they weren’t settled until earlier this year. Nine women filed EEOC complaints before the company was sold in 2005.
The court judged Townsend Oil & Propane, as the new owner, an “innocent purchaser” that was nonetheless a “successor defendant” liable for the harm the women suffered.
Note: When purchasing a business, always ask about pending complaints or litigation.
- Is there a way to ensure sensitive investigation records remain confidential?
- No need for OK before misconduct investigations
- Clear policy, training: Your best defenses against co-worker harassment lawsuits
- Tell bosses: Work sexual harassment rules apply to other business relationships, too
- Cite business reasons to justify terminations