There is no doubt that over the years sexual harassment cases in the US have declined. The statistics available from the EEOC show in 2011, about 11,364 complaints were filed which is a lower figure compared to 2010 and other years. However, workplaces that ignore sexual harassment complaints pay dearly. It is still expensive for businesses to get caught if such a discrimination complaint is filed by an aggrieved employee.
Before you start celebrating the end of sexual harassment, here is one case that was decided in the recent times by a federal jury and cost the accused company a lot of time and money.
Hooting for justice
The erstwhile employee was a waitress and claimed to have been sexually harassment by manager between October 1996 and October 1997. The victim, Sara Steinhoff, stated in her lawsuit that not only did she have to ward off unsolicited sexual advances and insulting behavior from managers, she also was blamed for it. That is terrible but $275,000? Wow, that is ridiculous!
In her testimony, Ms. Steinhoff claimed that the managers in the Newport branch of the restaurant tried to coerce her into going home with them and one of the managers also threatened to tie her up.
Witnesses support the claim
Other former waitresses didn’t have too many pleasant things to say either. They testified how waitresses were disciplined by making them perform the bikini contest held every Friday in the restaurant. They have also claimed they were subjected to similar treatment meted out to Ms. Steinhoff, who apparently complained just once about the sexual harassment at the workplace.
The jury consisted of five women and four men. They took just six hours to award Ms. Steinhoff $250,000 as punitive damages and another $25,000 for the emotional distress the sexual harassment caused Ms. Steinhoff. That is incredible! Many other people believe $30,000 should have sufficed and when she was threatened with being tied up, she should have called the police.
Needless to say Hooters is unhappy with the verdict and believes it was wrong, as the plaintiff complained just once and still continued to work at the restaurant 6 months after filing the complaint without making any other complaint. Hooters intends to appeal the verdict and perhaps they will win since every fallacious, or weak, sexual harassment claims hurts the legitimate ones. Nevertheless, this stuff does happen and if it happens to you, this is the site you want to familiarize yourself with.
What do the experts say?
Sexual harassment attorneys claim the verdict was a testimony that large corporations need to take sexual harassment seriously and have strict procedures and systems in place to combat incidences like this. Supervisors should be trained and sensitized to ensure they don’t have a Hooters-like incident.
Sexual harassment is a criminal offense in the United States. Though workplaces a doing a lot to prevent such incidences, still a lot needs to be done claim sexual harassment lawyers. Thankfully, when there is ample evidence of harassment on the part of supervisors and managers, victims can rely on the legal system to get justice. Even in cases where there is insufficient evidence, victims should seek guidance from a qualified, experienced and knowledgeable sexual harassment attorney to find out how they can get justice.