Emily Forsythe, a former Wayfair employee, sued the Boston-based online housewares giant on January 7th in federal court. Wayfair is charged with sexual harassment allegations and retaliation that led to Forsythe’s termination. Forsythe has also complained that her supervisors at Wayfair did not take notice when she complained of a subordinate sexually harassing her.
Forsythe’s Sexual Harassment Case Described Atypical
33-year-old Forsythe’s sexual harassment attorney, Robert Goodman, has called Wayfair’s handling of the lawsuit as extremely atypical given the present #MeToo circumstances. Goodman stated that Forsythe was not just sexually harassed but also bullied.
However, a spokesperson for Wayfair, Jane Carpenter, has denied all allegations. Carpenter said in a statement that Wayfair took allegations of sexual harassment and potential misconduct in the workplace very seriously.
The housewares giant allegedly did not find any merit to the complaints and had full intention of working with their employment lawyers to provide these details in court.
Forsythe’s Abuse Persisted After Repeated Complaints
In January 2017, as per the lawsuit, Forsythe oversaw the hiring of a team of 15 employees in the capacity of associate director. She directly supervised the new hires. One man in particular started harassing Forsythe to go out on dinner dates.
On one occasion, he brought his chair near her during their periodic one-on-one meetings and touched the inside of her left thigh. In another group meeting, he brought his legs uncomfortably close to her naked shins and proceeded to caress them.
When Forsythe complained to her supervisors about her subordinate, he verbally abused her in front of the supervisors. The bosses removed the subordinate from Forsythe’s team but refused to terminate him. The abuse escalated to assault when the man pushed his right hand down her blouse.
Forsythe was eventually terminated when she complained to her HR manager.
Remedies Available for Sexual Harassment Victims in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, sexual harassment is of two forms – quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Legal remedies are available to victims of sexual harassment which can be explained in detail by an experienced sexual harassment lawyer. Typical remedies include back pay, reinstatement, damages for lawyer’s fee and emotional distress among others.
Sexual harassment is a major problem across the United States in organizations of all sizes and types. According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission almost 100 charges of sexual harassment are reported in Massachusetts each year.
There are several protections under Massachusetts state law and federal law against sexual harassment. It is important for victims to speak with a skilled employment attorney as soon as possible if they have suffered through harassment of any kind at the workplace.