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Manager fired for investigating harassment settles lawsuit

We have chronicled a variety of stories involving egregious conduct in workplaces in New York and other areas of the country that involve the sexual harassment of a worker. State and federal laws prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. The laws also allow a victim of harassment to seek to hold a company accountable if the business knows of a hostile work environment and fails to properly investigate and take appropriate action to eliminate the behavior.

It is vital to note that employment discrimination laws would have little effect if workers could not come forward to complain about a hostile work environment. Claims of unlawful retaliation are common in employment law. A recent case from the southern U.S. highlights how a manager may suffer unlawful retaliation for doing what the laws demand.

Many businesses have internal policies for how harassment or discrimination complaints should be handled. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that a plant manager at a business was responsible for investigating and dealing with sexual harassment complaints. A woman told the manager that a co-worker was sexually harassing her. The manager looked into the allegations and found evidence to corroborate that the woman was being harassed. In fact, the male co-worker admitted to harassing the woman.

The plant manager fired the male worker, based upon the harassment investigation. But, the business did not go along with that decision and gave the man his job back. The company then turned the tables and fired the manager.

The company has agreed to settle a retaliation lawsuit with the manager who was fired for doing what was right under the law. A regional EEOC lawyer familiar with the case says in a press release that, "An employee should never be forced to choose between his livelihood and doing what is legally correct and proper." The company has agreed to pay damages to the fired manager and institute new company policies related to workplace discrimination laws.

Workers in New York who believe that an employer is wrongfully allowing a hostile work environment should consult with an employment law attorney. Workers who suffer adverse employment actions in retaliation for raising issues about a hostile work environment may also have a claim. As today’s story highlights, a manager following proper procedures who suffers an adverse action may also be able to pursue a retaliation claim against a business.

Source: EEOC, “Winfield Rubber to Pay $75,000 to Settle EEOC Retaliation Lawsuit,” March 24, 2014

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