Five quick ones from the harassment world, plus a
"bonus track" involving our old friends Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa
This is sexual
harassment? On what planet? Employment
Law360 (paid subscription required) reports that a court in California
is allowing the sexual
harassment claim of model Lanisha Cole from The Price Is Right to go
to trial in May. According to Ms. Cole, the executive producer of the show,
Adam Sandler (not the actor), burst into her dressing room while she was
wearing nothing but a sheer thong (and I'm not talking about sandals) and
bawled her out for not having worn a microphone in her previous segment on the
show. Then he stormed out of the dressing room. Several other models were in
the room at the same time.
Of course, I am not condoning the alleged behavior of the
other Adam Sandler, but how is this sexual harassment?
Jury busts EEOC in sexual harassment case. Ouch!
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Evans Fruit Company, an apple
orchard in Washington state, on behalf of 14 farmworkers who claimed sexual
harassment by a foreman and others. Employment Law360 reports that the
jury came back with zilch, nada, zip, zero, nuttink --
finding that no sexual harassment had occurred. The orchard's troubles aren't
over yet, though. The EEOC has also filed a separate lawsuit for retaliation,
which is still pending. But this big victory for the employer is proof that the
EEOC isn't always right, and also that it doesn't always win.
Finally vindicated! Employers can be
sued for age-based harassment. For years, when I've done
harassment training, I've warned folks about making too many age-related
comments and jokes, saying that this could be a form of unlawful harassment. Of
course, it's also evidence of age discrimination. Some people believe me about
the harassment part, but many are skeptical. Well, now
I have a case to prove it. A vice president of a comic-book publisher has
been allowed to proceed to trial on claims of a hostile work environment based
on his age. The VP, who was terminated while in his 50s, claims that his boss expressed
a desire for a "younger, hipper" company, expressed surprise that the
VP was not too
old to cut the mustard, blamed the VP's age when he wouldn't go out to
strip clubs with the boss, encouraged the VP to dye his hair and have
liposuction so he'd look younger, and refused to listen to the VP's input about
newfangled things like "social media" because he was too old to know
anything about it. 'Cause, I mean, really -- who ever heard of a 50-year-old
being tech literate?
(On the other hand, the court found that there wasn't
enough evidence that the VP was terminated because of his age, so his
termination claim was dismissed.)
Get your popcorn: Ex-associate sues big class
action law firm for sexual harassment, big class action law firm files $15
million counterclaim against ex-associate. I love to see
litigious people litigating litigiously against each other. It keeps them too
busy to bother the rest of us. A former associate at Faruqi & Faruqi, a plaintiffs' class
action law firm based in New York, sued the firm and an individual partner for
sexual harassment. The ABA
Journal reports that the defendants have now hit back with a $15
million counterclaim for defamation, tortious interference, and other claims.
According to a Thompson
Reuters report, the firm contends that the associate distributed copies of
her lawsuit to many of the firm's clients, sabotaging a planned public-sector
practice and causing the firm to lose other business. The associate, through
her attorney, denies that she did anything improper. Can they all lose? Please?
Presidential peccadillos. And
did you know that President
Obama is a male chauvinist pig? (Just kidding - I don't really think so.)
And Bill Clinton is
a fan of the TV show Scandal.
Bonus track: Sheryl Sandberg defends the
powerless and vulnerable. (This one isn't harassment related,
but it was too good to pass up.) Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, on
tour promoting her book Lean In, in which she encourages women to go
for the gusto in the business world, is standing by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.
Ms. Mayer, you may recall, has been under fire because she banned telecommuting
at Yahoo while building herself a nursery next door to her office for her own
Sandberg says that Ms. Mayer is catching grief over this only because she's a
I'm not aware of any man who is "similarly
situated" to Marissa Mayer (plenty of guys, I am sure, would love to be),
but now that Ms. Sandberg has raised
my consciousness, I'll be sure to give him just as much grief. If I ever
Visit the Employment and
Labor Law Insider for additional insights from Robin Shea, a partner with the national labor and
employment law firm Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP.
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