Failure to Stop Harassment Costs Whirlpool $1 Million
When employers don't respond appropriately to reports of discrimination and harassment, they could end up paying a very steep price. Whirlpool recently agreed to settle a lawsuit charging that the company had failed to stop discrimination and harassment by paying $1 million in back pay, front pay and compensatory damages, as well as paying court costs.
According to the lawsuit filed by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), a white male worker at a Whirlpool plant in Tennessee repeatedly harassed a black female coworker because of her race and gender. Evidence presented at the trial showed that the harassed employee repeatedly reported the offensive conduct to management, but the company did not take any corrective action.
The harassment continued for two months, and then the harasser physically attacked his coworker, causing “devastating mental injuries” that left her unable to work again.
Litigation in the case dragged on for six years. After a four-day bench trial, the judge ruled for the employee. The judge denied Whirlpool’s request to amend the judgment, and the company filed an appeal. Litigation finally ended when Whirlpool withdrew the appeal and agreed to settle with the EEOC.
According to the EEOC, an employer “will be liable for harassment by non-supervisory employees…if it knew, or should have known about the harassment and failed to take prompt and appropriate corrective action.”
Harassment doesn’t have to be as egregious as it was in the Whirlpool case in order to be unlawful. WeComply’s online preventing discrimination and harassment courses give employees the information they need to deal appropriately with issues that arise often in the workplace.Categories: Discrimination & Harassment Compliance
Tags: Preventing Discrimination and Harassment