Sunday, January 31, 2010

Workplace Sexual Harassment-Part Two

In the Baltimore area they have this small chain of 50s-style restaurants called the Double T Diner.  The Baltimore Sun is reporting on a former Double T Diner waitress who filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit claiming that the son of one of the owners, Spyros Korologos, is getting all-grabby and vulgar.  To give you a better sense of what she's talking about I'll quote from Nick Madigan's story:

"The suit by the 27-year-old woman is the latest in a decade-long string of legal actions -- including two suits by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission -- against the Double T chain by former waitresses who claimed they were sexually harassed by managers and other employees. Most of those suits were settled out of court, in one case for $200,000.

In her suit, the woman names Spyros Korologos, 26, a manager at the diner where she worked for five months in 2007, on Mountain Road in Pasadena. It's one of several restaurants owned by the Korologos family.  The woman, who was engaged to be married at the time, says she was 'publicly subjected to intimidation, ridicule and insult on the basis of her sex,' 'unwanted sexual advances,' and 'profane, sexually graphic and vulgar language.' Korologos did not return a call Thursday seeking comment, and two lawyers who represented him in previous cases said they no longer do.  On Sept. 7, 2007, the woman says in her suit, Korologos 'violently grabbed'  her crotch, causing her 'physical injury and emotional distress.'  She quit her job six days later and pressed criminal charges. According to the complaint filed in Anne Arundel County District Court, Korologos not only fondled her but made a habit of inquiring how many sexual partners she'd had and was 'always foul with the way he talked.'

On April 17, 2008, he was given probation before judgment on a fourth-degree sex offense, meaning that he could avoid conviction if he adhered to the terms of probation. He did not, according to a report from the state Division of Parole and Probation, which said he failed to show up for court-ordered psychological therapy or to return calls from the therapist. He also stopped attending the required weekly meetings with his probation agent, the report says.As a result, Korologos, who was living with his parents in Ellicott City, was found to have violated his probation and was convicted last May of the sex offense against the woman, who now lives in Florida and is not being named because of Sun policy. The woman is seeking $6 million in damages. In her suit, she says Korologos has 'a long history of similar illegal conduct in the workplace,' but that he has not been 'discharged or disciplined.'

In other lawsuits, women who had worked at Double T diners said managers and other employees had locked them in freezers, poured hot sauce on their arms and, to amuse themselves, carved vegetables into anatomically suggestive shapes."
There have been numerous times over the decades where I've dealt with nearly identical sorts of workplace hosrshit like that described in Madigan's reporting.  I think any reader of Bad Lawyer will conclude that the Bad Lawyer is not a prude, but I do not understand workplace sexual harassment anymore than I understand molesting children.  Certainly we meet and form realtionships including intimate relationships with people we meet at work.  I met the Blonde Super Lawyer while practicing law, that is not sexual harassment so let's define sexual harassment in the workplace:  there are two specific types of sexual harassment in employment law:

Quid Pro Quo Harassment: "Something for something;" this is the "you do something for me and I'll do something for you" type of exchange. This occurs when a job benefit is directly tied to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances. For example, a supervisor promises an employee a raise if she will go out on a date with him, or tells an employee she will be fired if  she doesn't sleep with him. Quid pro quo harassment also occurs when an employee makes an evaluative decision, or provides or withholds professional opportunities based on another employee's submission to verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct or a sexual nature. Quid pro quo harassment is equally unlawful whether the victim resists and suffers the threatened harm or submits and thus avoids the threatened harm.

Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment: This occurs when an employee is subjected to comments of a sexual nature, offensive sexual materials, or unwelcome physical contact as a regular part of the work environment. Generally speaking, a single isolated incident will not be considered hostile environment harassment unless it is extremely outrageous and egregious conduct. The courts look to see whether the conduct is both serious and frequent. Supervisors, managers, co-workers and even customers can be responsible for creating a hostile environment.

In this day and age what delusion is a business owner, or manager operating under to believe that an acceptable term of employment includes putting up with the kind of shit the Korologos-family inflicts on its waitresses or permits its employees to engage in?  It's ridiculous, childish and such a distraction from commerce!  Here's hoping that the message get's through--this time.

1 comment: