Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A $3.5 Million Reminder of Why Sexual Harassment Prevention is Important

Yet another lawsuit has come to light that reminds us all of just how important active prevention of sexual harassment is in the workplace. Alorica, a company that provides customer support services to a number of Fortune 500 firms, recently found this out the hard way. And what is the price Alorica is paying to put an end to such a lawsuit? $3.5 million.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed its lawsuit against the company in 2017 with allegations that began in 2012. The claims were serious enough to result in Alorica’s agreement to pay such a high settlement amount. The claims highlighted events from two female employees, among many others involved, alleging almost constant verbal and physical harassment.

The first employee, whose events prompted the lawsuit, alleged that her supervisor harassed her at a press conference by telling the employee that his “piece” was so big and that he would “pimp slap hoes.” Additionally, the same supervisor would talk about his favorite sex positions and comment on the employee’s breasts. He would ask her what kind of bra she wore and would tell others that he liked the employee’s butt. After reporting these allegations, the employee was placed on a two week leave. Once the two weeks ended, and the employee returned to her job, company officials allegedly tried to intimidate her into backing off of her claims. Eventually, the employee quit as a result.

While this specific employee’s harassment was primarily verbal, the lawsuit highlights another employee’s experience that contained more physical claims. This former worker made allegations that she was sexually harassed by a male team manager who often made inappropriate gestures to her at the workplace and told her several times that she “looked like she was ready for the bedroom.” Additionally, the same manager would rub his open hand on her buttocks and once held a soda bottle to his genitals and then rubbed her with the same bottle. This employee was ultimately fired for what the company said was poor attendance.

Other allegations that were made in this lawsuit include that a male team manager told a female worker she would have to provide sexual favors in order to advance in the company. Another female employee claimed that a male worker exposed his genitals to her.

Alorica’s representative ensured that the company fully investigated the allegations and fired or punished all workers found to be culpable. However, this same representative refused on many occasions to say exactly who or how many workers the company took these actions against.

This case is the largest settlement to date for a sexual harassment claim in the workplace. To both the company and every other employer, the case serves as a very strong reminder of the importance of training of all employees on how to spot, report, and prevent sexual harassment at work.