Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

Women claiming workplace sexual harassment

Michigan employees may wonder about their options in cases of work-related sexual harassment. Two women who were fired for their complaints about such conditions are fighting back by way of a lawsuit. The 24-year-old and 34-year-old women filed the suit in Vermont in December 2014.

The women involved in the suit were employed by a company that raises funds to support professional firefighters. They have filed suit both against this Tennessee-based entity doing business in Vermont and against another company that was contracted to handle human resources for the local operation. Additionally, the women have sued two male colleagues, including the office manager. The women report that the treatment received in this work environment was humiliating and degrading. Those who are being sued have denied the claims. However, one of the women indicates that their documentation of the harassing behavior includes texts, cartoons and other materials with offensive messages. She was reportedly hired to replace the other party in the suit and initially did not face harassing behavior. However, the atmosphere allegedly changed after an investigation related to the previous administrative assistant's claims occurred.

While such legal action against employers and co-workers is rare, sexual harassment continues to be a pervasive issue in the workplace and in other environments. In some cases that have been brought against harassers, significant judgments have been handed down on behalf of the plaintiffs. The infrequency of this type of employment litigation, however, may be attributed to the fact that the negative details and feelings must be brought to the surface again.

An individual who is facing sexual harassment or other forms of employment discrimination may be afraid of the negative implications of pursuing a legal remedy. However, discussing the details with a lawyer does not mandate that a case be filed. A lawyer may provide preliminary steps for reporting an abusive work environment.

Source: USA Today, "Suit alleges sexual harassment at Vermont business", Dan D'Ambrosio, Jan. 20, 2015

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