Male-dominated mailroom costs Star-Tribune $300,000

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in Discrimination and Harassment,HR Management,Human Resources

The Star-Tribune, one of the 20 largest newspapers in the country, has signed on to a class-action settlement agreement involving two women who filed sexual harassment charges against the company.

The agreement was worked out by the EEOC after two women working in the mailroom at one of the Twin Cities paper’s facilities claimed they were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment. The women compiled newspapers and placed inserts in them. Traditionally, most workers in those positions are men. Apparently, the old-boy atmosphere in the mailroom never changed, and the dirty jokes and vulgar comments persisted despite complaints from the women.

Under the settlement, the paper will hire a supervisor or manager specifically for the mailroom for each shift and hire an HR representative solely responsible for mailroom complaints. It will also provide sexual harassment prevention training for managers and supervisors working in the mailroom.

The newspaper will pay between $305,000 and $325,000 depending on the number of women in the class who come forward.

Note: Small units in any employment setting can develop their own subcultures. New employees who are different from the old-timers can create friction. Identify those potential problem areas before they become legal liabilities. Educate managers and supervisors about harassment and discrimination of all kinds so they can stop it when they see it and work toward making all new workers feel welcome.

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