Harassment – It’s a New Era
Hypothetical: Jordan owns Jordan’s Construction, Inc. She hired her first employee the first day she opened up her business. She did not consult with a business attorney or a human resources consultant. There was no time. The business needed to start immediately, and she couldn’t take the time to “dot the i’s” or “cross the t’s.” This was her third business and she had never had any problems. She had 10 employees. Two of them were supervisors. One of them, Chris, was a flirt. It was well-known that Chris was a flirt, but in the construction industry “it was acceptable.” A new employee, Sam started working. Chris sent Sam pictures of “his junk” and repeatedly asked her out. Sam started to come in late to work. There was no policy regarding sexual harassment. Sam quit and filed for unemployment. Jordan was shocked.
Jordan’s Construction, Inc’s response: Jordan objected to Sam’s unemployment claim because Sam was a “bad employee” who came in late to work all of the time, Sam never complained about Chris, and was often seen laughing and chatting with Chris, and what was the big deal?
Result: Sam wins her claim. Jordan then receives a claim of discrimination from the MN Department of Human Rights that was cross-filed with the EEOC.
Hypothetical: Faith owns Faith’s Excavation, LLC. Faith loves to joke with her employees. She tells “off-color” jokes continually, and gets upset when her employees do not laugh at the joke. When her employee Gail objected to one of Faith’s “off-color” jokes, Faith told Gail that she needed to lighten up and quit “acting like a girl.” Then Faith shared how many times she had an orgasm that weekend with her partner, and wanted feedback from others. Gail said that she had to throw-up and she left work. She called in sick for the next three days. Faith told another employee that “Gail was a baby and was fired.”
Faith’s Excavation, LLC’s response: Faith receives Gail’s claim for unemployment, and does not object because “who has time for such nonsense.”
Result: Faith then receives a letter from an employment attorney regarding Gail’s claim of sexual harassment with a copy of the already drafted complaint with a demand for $770,000 as Gail has been diagnosed with depression and PTSD as a result of Faith’s conduct.
Hypothetical: Jessica owns Jessica’s Architectural Design, LLC. One of her workers, Barb, claims that another employee sexually harassed her, and that she dislocated her shoulder when she tried to reject the worker’s sexual advances. Jessica ignores the complaint. Three months later, Barb submits $50,000 of medical bills to Jessica requesting Jessica to pay them. Jessica refuses saying that worker’s compensation has to pay for them.
Result: Jessica’s worker’s compensation insurance refuses to pay, and Jessica’s worker’s compensation insurance is cancelled. In addition, Jessica also receives significant penalties for failure to timely report an injury and to pay benefits.
Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP assists business owners with business issues, such as employment issues, classification of workers, corporate formation, etc.
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