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EEOC settles sex harassment case for $200K

According to the EEOC, a female employee (Bell) that worked in the Service Department at Murphy Ford, in Chester, Pennsylvania, was the victim of sexual harassment perpetrated by the store Service Manager. The Service Manager is alleged to have made explicit sexual remarks, commented about oral sex, and grabbed his private parts in the presence of the Bell and other females. Bell went to upper management and ownership in an attempt to get the matter resolved. Shortly, after her reports she was abruptly terminated.

The dealership settled the case for $244,000.

Take Aways:

1. Take all complaints seriously.

2. When a complaint is received investigate immediately.

3. While the investigation is pending give consideration to what steps can be taken to avoid retaliation.

4. In the event you are able to confirm serious misconduct by the alleged perpetrator. Act swiftly and meaningfully. Make sure your disciplinary action is tailored to the seriousness of the conduct such that it will have the effect of stopping it. Don’t be afraid to terminate. Trust me, your lawyer would rather defend the wrongful termination claim than the sexual harassment claim.

5. Think twice and then a third time before firing an employee that has raised issues of harassment or retaliation. Even if there is not enough to establish a claim for harassment or discrimination, your actions in terminating the employee will be viewed as retaliatory. Courts, and juries, place a great deal of weight on the temporal relationship between the report of harassment and discrimination and the adverse action. In plain English: Timing is everything. If the action you take looks bad, juries will assume it is bad.

6. Be proactive. Train, train and train some more. Even in difficult economic times it takes a whole lot of training to add up to $244,000.

Just some thoughts,


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