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  • Writer's pictureHR Wingman

Doing Nothing Can Be Costly.....

The Wingman's thoughts are in [brackets] as he reads this.


Manhattan Store Forced Employee to Quit Due to Abuse, Federal Agency Charged [and apparently the Manhattan store agreed]

NEW YORK – Baccarat, Inc., which operates a retail store in Manhattan that sells luxury crystal products, will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle a lawsuit for employment discrimination filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC had charged Baccarat with harassing a sales consultant at its Manhattan store based on race, sexual orientation and disability harassment. [I guess they will have to sell a few more vases… well, only about three actually.]

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the sales consultant was subject to constant and virulent verbal harassment by two co-workers for close to three years [huh, one vase for each year of harassment], with the knowledge of the supervisor, to whom the sales consultant complained on several occasions. The harassment victim was forced to quit to escape the abuse, the EEOC said.

The EEOC filed suit (U.S. EEOC v. Baccarat, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:20-CV-02918) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after first attempting a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s lawsuit initially charged Baccarat with failing to take prompt action to end race and disability harassment following numerous employee complaints to management and human resources. The EEOC amended the complaint to include an allegation of sexual orientation harassment following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 15, 2020 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020)

The consent decree settling the suit, entered by Judge Paul G. Gardephe, will remain in effect for two and a half years and, in addition to the $100,000 payment to the harassment victim, requires significant non-monetary relief designed to prevent further harassment. These provisions include the implementation of an 800 hotline for employee complaints; training for all employees, including management and human resources staff [which they should have been doing anyway and maybe this would not have happened], on the requirements of Title VII and the ADA and their prohibition against harassment in the workplace; and specific one-on-one training for the manager who failed to report or stop the harassment [uh…how about getting rid of that manager?]. The company must also report to the EEOC any complaints of race, sexual orientation, or disability harassment it receives in the next two and a half years.

The lawsuit was settled prior to the parties engaging in substantial pre-trial discovery. [In other words, after they spent some serious dollars in legal fees]

“Baccarat’s willingness to resolve this matter early on enabled the parties to jointly craft an effective resolution designed to prevent harassment,” said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. “When it is possible to negotiate an effective settlement, as was the case here, the employer expends fewer resources [i.e., even more serious dollars] responding to the lawsuit and the impacted employee receives compensation much sooner than if the parties had engaged in protracted litigation.”

EEOC New York District Director Judy Keenan added, “There are still far too many complaints filed with our office in which an employee makes his or her employer aware that harassment is occurring but management fails to take prompt, effective steps to end it. The EEOC is committed to vigorously investigating complaints in which a victim charges harassment based on race, sexual orientation, disability or other protected categories.”

[HRWingman’s advice: If your company needs a claim of discrimination investigated or wants training to prevent discrimination in your workplace, reach out to NavigationHR. Doing nothing could cost you a few vases!]

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