Articles Posted in Sexual Harassment

On Thursday, numerous local government officials from 31 U.S. states pressured McDonald’s Corp’s to do a better job of protecting workers from groping, obscene comments and other forms of sexual harassment, adding their voices to an employee-led campaign that has seen walkouts at several stores.

In a letter to CEO Steve Easterbrook, 115 mayors, commissioners, city councilors and school board members asked McDonald’s to meet with workers, hear their stories and together craft tougher policies to effectively stamp out harassment.

The officials are part of an advocacy network called Local Progress.

MCDSMembers of the U.S. Congress have written similar letters and employees have ramped up pressure on McDonald’s at a time that the chain and other fast food restaurants have struggled to find and retain enough staff.

The letter said McDonald’s employees have filed more than 50 sexual harassment complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Reuters could not verify this because EEOC complaints are not public.

When asked to comment on the letter, McDonald’s referred to its Aug. 28 statement announcing a new training program for safe workplaces, which has support from more than 2,000 franchisees.

“Together with our franchisees, we have a responsibility to take action on this issue and are committed to promoting positive change,” said Chris Kempczinski, McDonald’s USA president. “These actions are one more step we are taking to raise awareness at all levels of McDonald’s that will transfer both inside and outside the workplace.”

Workers and those organizing them are trying to pressure McDonald’s, the largest U.S. restaurant chain by sales, to boost wages and address violence and harassment problems at its roughly 14,000 U.S. locations, most of them independently owned.

On Tuesday, workers at a Los Angeles McDonald’s walked off the job to protest, saying retaliation for reporting sexual harassment is rampant and they have been excluded from policy discussions, according to organizers and news reports – one of several similar protest in the last year and a half.

Last year, McDonald’s started working with RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the country, to improve its policies.

McDonald’s released an announcement in August that they were implementing an even broader program focused on mitigating violence, harassment, bias and bullying, to start in October.

McDonald’s says they are doing everything they can to stop sexual harassment. In a statement, the company said:

“We have strong policies, procedures and training in place specifically designed to prevent sexual harassment. . . . To ensure we are doing all that can be done, we have engaged experts in the areas of prevention and response.”

Fast food companies and other restaurants often try to blame illegal behavior on their franchisees. Franchise arrangements are where one company buys the right to use the branding, trademarks and products of a larger company in exchange for a fee and royalties on profits. Due to how corporate controls these restaurants, it can be somewhat murky when trying to identify the responsible party: the franchisee or the corporation.

The franchising company often has policies for everything from advertising to food preparation. Franchisees, however, usually do not have the same degree of established policies and procedures for things like hiring or investigating sexual harassment complaints. This can translate to mean that such complaints do not receive the response they should under the law. 

While McDonald’s has said in multiple statements that it has implemented trainings to prevent sexual harassment in its company, it remains unclear whether McDonald’s efforts have been passed down to the franchisees. 

Sadly, many fast food workers, or employees of restaurants, fail to realize that the sexual harassment they experience in the food industry is unlawful, or that they have any recourse when management ignores their complaints.

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On Sunday, Afton Williamson, star of ABC’s ‘The Rookie,” announced she would not be returning to the drama starring Nathan Fillion.

The Rookie actress says she was the victim of sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

The actress, who co-starred on the cop drama from showrunner Alexi Hawley (Castle), ABC Studios and Entertainment One, announced her departure from the show in a lengthy post on her verified Instagram account.

Williamson claims she experienced racial discrimination and racially charged inappropriate comments from the hair department as well as from the drama’s executive producers starting with the pilot and continuing throughout the show’s first season. What’s more, the actress says the harassment was reported to Hawley and the showrunner never passed it along to human resources. Her issues escalated into sexual assault during The Rookie’s wrap party, she said.

Sources say Entertainment One — the lead studio on The Rookie — launched and has an ongoing investigation into Williamson’s claims. It’s unclear if the investigation was opened before or after Williamson departed the show. News of her departure hit the press July 26 and sources say she made the decision to not return for season two a few days before that.

“The allegations involve a production from Entertainment One. In late June, eOne made us aware and informed us that they launched an investigation that is ongoing. The safety of working environments is a top priority for us, and we take this matter very seriously,” an ABC spokesperson said in a statement.

“We take claims of this nature very seriously. We have initiated an independent investigation which is ongoing and as such, it would not be appropriate to comment at this time,” eOne said in a statement of its own late Sunday afternoon.

Williamson’s full post from Instagram is below.

I will not be returning for Season 2 of The Rookie. I owe it to you my amazing fans to share the Truth. Throughout the filming of the pilot, I experienced Racial Discrimination/Racially Charged inappropriate comments from the hair department and bullying from Executive Producers. During the Season, it continued along with Sexual Harassment from a recurring guest star and the racist commentary & bullying from the Hair Dept. Head escalated into Sexual Assault at our Wrap party.The Sexual Harassment though reported directly to the Showrunner/EP remained undocumented and was not reported to HR as promised. The Hair Dept. Head was fired ONLY after the sexual assault and NOT for an entire year of outward racism/racially charged language and bullying behavior in and out of the Hair and Makeup trailer. HR protocol was never adhered to following the above reports given by me to my Showrunner/EP and an investigation was never issued for any of my claims. The only time I was asked to participate in an investigation was after a meeting I called in June following our Season 2 announcement. This meeting included the Showrunner and two other producers as well as my agent and SAG-AFTRA Union Rep. It was clear to all present in the meeting that the Showrunner had not shared my reports with the any of the producers. After my initial report of sexual harassment, I was assured that the actor would be fired. I was also asked to film with him the very next day as a courtesy to the script, even though we had not begun filming the episode yet. This actor reappeared on our call sheet at the end of the season, I was even written in scenes with him. I asked the Showrunner about this and he admitted to me that the actor had not been fired nor had he gotten HR involved. I was asked to return this season, and promised that “everything was handled.” The investigation hadn’t even begun and Season 2 had already started filming. I turned it down and I walked. Now is the best time in the world to be a woman and I have a platform so it’s time to use my Voice. Strength comes from within. It comes from Above. “Greater is He that is within Me than he that is in the world.”

Being able to work in an evironment that is free from discrimination and harassment of any kind is part of our basic human rights and freedoms. When unlawful conduct affects your employment, unreasonably interferes with your work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment, our Florida Employment Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you recover financial compensation for your suffering.  

We routinely represent employees who have suffered discrimination based on their race, age, disability, taking of protected leave for medical reasons, or to care for a family member under the Family and Medical Leave Act, national origin, gender – including pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment, sexual orientation, and religion. 

We can help with all types of workplace discrimination cases, including: 

  • Acts that occur before employment begins, like discriminatory hiring practices
  • Acts that occur during employment, such as discrimination in compensation, promotions, or other terms and conditions of employment
  • Acts that result from the taking of protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Acts that result in employment ending, such as wrongful termination
  • Any retaliatory actions employees face from their employers following a complaint about discrimination and harassment at work

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McDonald’s has been hit with another round of lawsuits from current and former employees who claim management brushed off or ignored their experiences of sexual misconduct at work.

The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, the Fight For $15 movement to raise minimum wages and the American Civil Liberties Union announced the charges Tuesday, shedding light on 23 new complaints against the fast food chain and two lawsuits stemming from previous allegations.

McDonald’s cooks and cashiers at both corporate and franchise locations say they reported instances of sexual harassment and assault to their supervisors, but were either ignored or mocked, according to the lawsuits.

A McDonald’s worker from Louisiana whose co-worker allegedly attempted to rape her in a bathroom stall, said “nothing has changed” since her colleagues first began speaking out about sexual harassment at McDonald’s three years ago.

The advocacy groups, joined by “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi, are expected to hold a press conference outside McDonald’s corporate headquarters in Chicago later Tuesday to support the workers and raise awareness of their fight.

In a letter addressed to Lakshmi on Sunday, McDonald’s stated it’s “committed to ensuring a harassment and bias-free workplace” and outlined recent efforts the company has taken to “create safe and respectful” workplaces, including a bolstered sexual harassment policy and a hotline for reporting complaints.

“In the next two months, McDonald’s and [the nonprofit Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network] will facilitate additional conversations with U.S. restaurant employees and other relevant external stakeholder groups to help inform and further strengthen our policy and trainings,” the company wrote in its letter to Lakshmi. “These conversations underscore our commitment to continuous improvement and being responsive to the changing needs of our business and employees — now and in the future.”

A spokeswoman for McDonald’s told HuffPost that the company did not plan to address the allegations publicly outside of its letter to Lakshmi. She noted that roughly 95 percent of U.S. McDonald’s locations are independently-owned franchises and do not fall under the corporate umbrella.

Of the 23 new complaints announced Tuesday, 20 of the charges were sent to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the three others were filed as civil rights lawsuits, according to a spokeswoman for Fight For $15.

Some of the workers say they were as young as 16 or 17 years old when they were subjected to sexual misconduct at McDonald’s and that their complaints resulted in their hours being cut or termination, according to the lawsuits.

Dozens of sexual harassment charges have been filed against McDonald’s since 2016.

According to a recent EEOC report, nearly 40% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. If you’re being sexually harassed at work, there is no need to suffer in silence. Our Florida Sexual Harassment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help you understand the laws set in place that protect your rights. Federal, state and local laws protect all employees from unwelcome sexual advances, threats, demands and propositions.

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Whittel & Melton secured an $80,000 settlement for a female bartender who was sexually harassed at an Italian restaurant in Orlando for over two years before being fired after complaining to the restaurant’s owner.

The bartender was regularly asked to go on dates, described to restaurant patrons as single and available to date them, subjected to sexual innuendo, and told to dress “sexy” and “date-ready,” among other things.

Under the settlement, the restaurant must conduct mandatory anti-harassment training for all employees and operate a telephone hotline for employees to report incidents of discrimination and harassment.

Sexual harassment in the workplace can affect both men and women, and may include some of the following actions:

  • Touching an employee or coworker inappropriately
  • Promising a raise or promotion in exchange for sexual or romantic activities
  • Engaging in uninvited “x-rated” conversations
  • Unwarranted provocative gestures

Sexual harassment can be a traumatic experience that not everyone is comfortable talking about. However, if you are experiencing such illegal behavior at work, you do not need to suffer in silence. Our Florida Sexual Harassment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton know that coming forward with a sexual harassment complaint is not easy. That is why we will be there for you and guide you through the legal process, so that the wrongdoer is held accountable for their unlawful behavior.

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The former executive pastry chef at Mar-a-Lago is suing President Donald Trump’s private club and two senior managers claiming he was laid-off in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment against two female chefs.

The ex-chef, who worked at the club in Palm Beach from 2012 to 2017, reported to the club’s human resources department complaints he received from two young chefs who said they had been targets of sexual harassment, including lewd text messages, by two married, high-level food and beverage managers, according to the lawsuit.

Mar-a-Lago’s management looked into the ex-chef’s claims and he was interviewed as part of the investigation, which resulted in both managers receiving written reprimands and apologizing to the women, according to the lawsuit. About six months later, in October 2017, according to the suit, the managers who were reprimanded then laid him off, saying the club expected to lose $2.5 million from charity fundraisers that were canceled in the wake of the president’s comments about a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that left one woman dead.

The man, who has also filed a federal employment discrimination action against the club, did not believe their explanation, saying in his complaint that at the same time the club was hiring more foreign guest workers than it had the year before, including pastry chefs.

As for the lag time between the managers’ reprimand and the elimination of his position, the man said in his federal complaint that he believed they “waited sufficient time to cover their tracks, and then retaliated against me.”

Trump routinely receives visas to hire foreign workers as housekeepers, servers and kitchen staff at Mar-a-Lago, as do other area resorts and businesses. Trump received visas for 78 workers for the 2018-19 season, up from 70 workers in 2017-18, when the man was laid off. During the 2016-17 season, Trump hired 64 foreign workers at his Palm Beach club.

The Civil Rights Act protects all employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. These laws also protect employees from retaliation. Retaliation often occurs when an employer punishes an employee for filing complaints regarding sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. There are various federal laws that protect against retaliation and establish the rights of “whistleblowers,” people who file complaints about unsafe workplaces.

In order to establish grounds for a lawsuit, retaliation must have a negative impact on your employment. If you have reason to believe that an employer, manager, or another person is retaliating against you in the workplace, our Florida Retaliation Claims Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help. We can investigate your claim and help you learn whether retaliation is taking place. If you are indeed the victim of workplace retaliation, we will fight aggressively to obtain justice on your behalf.

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Eliza Dushku was written off CBS’ “Bull” after she confronted the series star Michael Weatherly about his behavior, according to a new report in The New York Times.

CBS confirms it paid a secret $9.5 million settlement to an actress this year after she accused the star of the hit show “Bull” of harassment.

The Times said when Dushku appeared on “Bull” last year, there were “well-developed plans” to make her a full-time cast member, but those plans allegedly ended after she came forward with allegations against the show’s star.

Dushku played a lawyer alongside Weatherly for just three episodes in season one. Dushku was written off the show within days of confronting Weatherly about behavior that made her uncomfortable. Among the allegations: he told “a rape joke” and said in “front of the cast and crew” he “would bend her over his leg and spank her.”

In another alleged incident on set, Dushku held up three fingers during a scene. She allegedly told investigators, Weatherly suggested she wanted a threesome with him and another male cast member.

The network agreed this year to pay Dushku a confidential settlement of $9.5 million, roughly the amount she would have earned as a series regular. Eight months later, when CBS investigators approached her, she allegedly told them: “My story is true and it’s really affected me.”

In a statement, CBS said: “The allegations in Ms. Dushku’s claims are an example that, while we remain committed to a culture defined by a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace, our work is far from done.”

Celebrities and normal everyday people can be victims of sexual harassment at work. If you have or believe you have become the victim of sexual harassment in a Florida workplace, you do not have to simply ignore it and move on. Sexual harassment by coworkers, managers, or employers is illegal and you have legal recourse to right these wrongs.

Sometimes, sexual harassment cases involve inappropriate comments or gestures. Other times, the harassment can be much more serious. It may involve someone being fired for illegitimate reasons or worse, sexual assault and battery. Our Florida Sexual Harassment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have successfully handled all of these and we know how each Florida statute applies to particular sets of circumstances that arise in these cases. We know how to build you the strongest possible case.

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An internal investigation of former CBS chief Les Moonves has apparently turned up more evidence of sexual misconduct, as well as lying and destruction of evidence, throwing into jeopardy his $120 million severance package, according to the most recent reports.

Here is what’s known about the scandal so far:

Moonves, 69, largely credited with turning CBS around, was forced out in September, after The New Yorker published allegations from 12 women who said he subjected them to mistreatment that included forced oral sex, groping and retaliation if they resisted.

Moonves denied the accusations, though he said he had consensual relations with some of the women.

Lawyers hired by the network allege in a draft report that the TV executive committed “multiple acts of serious non consensual sexual misconduct” before and after he came to CBS in 1995. The report goes on to allege that he deleted numerous text messages and was “evasive and untruthful at times” under questioning.

Investigators claim they received reports about a network employee who was “on call” to perform oral sex on Moonves. Investigators also allege that he received oral sex from at least four CBS employees “under circumstances that sound transactional and improper to the extent that there was no hint of any relationship, romance, or reciprocity.”

The investigators say they interviewed 11 of the 17 women they knew had accused Moonves of misconduct and found their accounts credible.

The 59-page report is to be presented to CBS’s board of directors before the company’s annual meeting next week, according to reports.

The former CEO “vehemently denies having any non-consensual sexual relations. He never put or kept someone on the payroll for the purpose of sex,” according to reports.

Sexual harassment can encompass a variety of unwanted actions. This can include sexual advances, inappropriate touching, patting, pinching, groping, or leering. Unsavory comments made by your boss or co-workers about your body, appearance, sexual orientation, sex life, or your clothing is also a form of sexual harassment.

In the state of Florida, you have the right to work at your job without being sexually harassed by your co-worker, supervisor, boss or anyone else. You are also awarded the right to report any sexual harassment without being retaliated against by your employer.

Being forced to endure sexual harassment at work is damaging to your mental and physical well being, which can cause destruction to all aspects of your life. At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Sexual Harassment Attorneys understand sexual harassment laws and can develop a strategy to help you recover compensation for your suffering.

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For “My Reality: A Hidden America,” a special “20/20” report by ABC News’ Diane Sawyer, women were asked to share their experiences with sexual harassment or abuse while on the job and responses were received from all over the country.

From truck drivers to waitresses to hotel room attendants, these women shared their stories of facing horrible situations at work, offered advice to others and discussed what they see as solutions to ending sexual harassment.

One woman who delivers packages for a local delivery company from a FedEx Ground facility in Sikeston, Missouri said that for years, she was ridiculed and bullied by her supervisor who she says tried to drive her out of the mostly-male workplace.

In 2016, she filed a complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and then with the EEOC. After a recent ruling, her federal harassment claims are moving forward. She’s asking for monetary damages, but she says most of all, a promise to create an environment where a woman can work with dignity.

Another woman, a waitress who was 16 years old when she got her first job as a hostess working at an IHOP franchise restaurant in Illinois said that she has been sexually harassed by two male managers.

It was only after she left the restaurant that she said she learned of 10 other women who had been working at the same franchise who claimed to have their own stories about sexual harassment and assault there. They have now filed a lawsuit against the franchise.

The franchise owner has denied all wrongdoing but gave “20/20” no further comment. The IHOP corporation said they are very concerned about any question of harassment in the workplace and hold their franchises to high standards.

One of the biggest things our Florida Sexual Harassment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton would like workers to know is that you don’t need to suffer in silence or worry that you’ll face retaliation if you come forward if you’re being sexually harassed at work. Workplace sexual harassment is illegal. In order to stop the abuse from continuing, we can help you take the proper steps to hold the employer accountable for their wrongful actions.

If you’re experiencing or have experienced sexual harassment, there are laws set in place to protect you. Federal, state and local laws protect employees from unwelcome sexual advances, unwanted sexual propositions, and working in a sexually hostile work environment.

Employers have a duty to keep their workplaces free from sexual harassment. If an employee reports sexual harassment and the company does not take the necessary action to stop it, the company can be held legally responsible.

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Coral Gables Trust Company (CGTC), a South Florida-based privately held trust company that provides wealth investment management and trust services throughout Florida, will pay $180,000 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a female executive assistant and marketing officer was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her gender and then retaliated against after she complained. The hostile work environment included verbal and physical harassment based on her sex at CGTC’s Coral Gables office and at various locations throughout South Florida that the executive assistant visited on business trips.

Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against CGTC in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through EEOC’s conciliation process.

The EEOC and CGTC reached an agreement to resolve the suit through a consent decree that requires the company paying $180,000 to the discrimination victim and providing her with a positive job reference. In addition, the decree requires that CGTC retain an independent equal employment opportunity consultant to investigate all complaints of sex-based harassment, discrimination or retaliation. The company must also distribute a revised policy against sex discrimination; post a notice informing employees about the suit; provide anti-discrimination training to all managers and employees; and provide individual training to the company’s chief wealth advisor. Further, CGTC agreed to designate two board members to receive future complaints of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.

A spokesman for the EEOC said that “they will not only keep enforcing federal anti-harassment laws, it will also continue to encourage employers to implement and maintain robust training in order to prevent harassment from occurring in the first place.”

If you are wrongfully terminated or even demoted from your job as a result of reporting sexual harassment in your workplace, your employer could be liable for retaliation. Florida and federal laws are unmistakably clear that termination or demotion as a result of reporting harassment or discrimination is illegal.

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Mike Isabella, the Washington chef who competed on Season 6 of Bravo’s Top Chef, has been sued for sexual harassment by a former manager.

In a lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court, a woman names him and four of his business partners at Mike Isabella Concepts, alleging that they groped her, commented on the size of her rear end and labeled her with female slurs.

She alleged that she became the “target of extraordinary sex-based hostility and abuse.”

She said she was fired on Dec. 5 before one of the restaurant’s grand opening after Isabella had been allegedly drinking and called her derogatory names.

Several employees left after the alleged incident on Dec. 5 and claim there were many derogatory names thrown around by employees at the restaurant.

Isabella claims that the woman stormed off and refused to return to work.

Sexual harassment can cause extreme stress, making it hard to have a good work performance. Sexual harassment is illegal and usually creates a hostile and intimidating work environment. If you think you have been experienced sexual harassment at work, you need to seek legal help as soon as possible as there is a time limit to file a work-related claim. Our Florida Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are committed to protecting the rights of employees and making sure that justice is served.

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