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DaimlerChrysler prevails on sexual harassment charges

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

A woman who worked in DaimlerChrysler’s Toledo machining plant lost her sexual harassment case against the company partly because of a sound employment agreement—and partly because the company responded appropriately to her complaint.

In August 2002, Lenora Ellison was leaning against her workstation when she says Henry Wilkins came up from behind, pressed her against the workstation and told her not to move. Ellison elbowed him away and told him never to do that again.

Ellison complained. Following an investigation, management instructed Wilkins to stay away from her. Ellison claimed Wilkins stopped to stare and smile at her four times after that while making his rounds at the plant. Ellison complained to the company and the EEOC in 2003. In 2006, she filed a second EEOC complaint and a lawsuit.

The court found that Ellison was bound by a DaimlerChrysler employment contract that stipulated claims and lawsuits must be filed within six months of the underlying incidents. The court further noted that, even absent the agreement, DaimlerChrysler had responded adequately by telling Wilkins to limit his contact with Ellison. The subsequent acts of smiling and waving (which were disputed by fellow employees) were not sufficient enough to sustain charges of harassment.

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