15 Years Later: Harassment Laws Still Broken

March 8, 1998 the Washington Post published an Op-Ed in response to a Supreme Court decision, Oncale v. Sundowner. Sadly, the essence of this Op-Ed still resonates today: “Predicating harassment suits on discrimination is also something of a mismatch; what bothers people about abusive workplace conduct, after all, is not the fact that it may be discriminatory but that it is abusive in the first place… Congress should decouple Continue reading

NEW APP: Which States Have The Most Harassed Workers?

We crawled over the figures from the EEOC and BLS to build a map that let’s you see how your State ranks nationally based on the number of EEOC Claims filed in 2012. Keep an eye on all the figures –  while California has slightly less claims than Florida it also has half as many employees making California much less toxic.  Ohio and Tennessee both show up in the low 3,000′s but Ohio has twice the work force making it twice as hostile.  New York looks pretty good as a big employer and only 3.9% of the national average and Massachusetts shines. However, Georgia looks like a place to avoid. You’ll find plenty of data to play with so let us know if you can figure out why some states have more claims than others! Continue reading

10 Workplace Rights You Think You Have — But Don’t

Recently a member of our Facebook group wrote to say her boss told her he’d be going out of town next week so don’t bother coming in. And, oh yeah, she wouldn’t be paid either. Legal in your state? Ask an attorney. But, here’s what the DOL says: “an employer may change an employee’s work hours without giving prior notice or obtaining the employee’s consent (unless otherwise subject to a prior agreement between the employer and employee or the employee’s representative).” Where are those union contracts when we need them? Few of us really know our rights – here’s an important article by an employment lawyer, Donna Ballman, that EVERY employee needs to read: Continue reading

$155 Million Workplace Defamation Award Overturned

Too many victims of bullying and harassment have seen their reputations torn to shreds as they struggle to heal and find new employment.  In 2010 Dr. Katherine Murphy lost sexual harassment and retaliation claims against the Aventura City charter school she helped found and Aventura City Manager Eric Soroka.  Later an Appeals Court upheld the verdict stating she was unable to prove a hostile work environment and, based on the testimony of co-workers, Soroka did not “single out females as targets for the profanity”:

Murphy testified that she asked Soroka to stop bullying her and that she complained to a former supervisor, Soroka’s assistant, and a city commissioner that Soroka had used “vulgar, inappropriate language,” and engaged in “bullying, yelling, [and] screaming.” Murphy failed to report Soroka’s conduct, formally or informally, to her employer, and Murphy acknowledged that she did not complain to Soroka’s assistant or the city commissioner that Soroka’s conduct was sexually hostile or sexually harassing. The district court correctly entered summary judgment against Murphy’s complaint of retaliation.

Fast forward two years to November 2012.  Murphy wins a whopping $155 million for defamation, conspiracy, and intentional infliction of emotional distressThe Miami Herald reports that: Continue reading