$2.6 Million Anti-Harassment Lesson

Beverly Fabrics, Inc. received a harsh lesson in the importance of effective anti-harassment policies and procedures. A Santa Cruz jury awarded Cole Hudson, a former Beverly Fabrics truck driver, $2,600,000 in damages for Beverly’s failure to prevent and correct alleged harassment and retaliation. Represented by local employment attorney Lisa Peck, the month-long trial ended in a significant victory for Hudson. The case was filed three years ago and describes a pattern of harassment lasting several years.

Anti-Harassment Lesson

According to newspapers, the complaint alleged, among other things:

Rangle’s conduct was not only relentless, but it degenerated in both frequency and substance over the next two years until (Beverly’s) laid him off from employment in July 2013

Rangle referred to himself as “Big Swingin’ Dan” and often talked about his sweaty buttocks, which he asked repeatedly for Hudson to wash. The comments escalated and Rangle started to lie to other workers, saying Hudson had been with male prostitutes named “Bubba” and “Bubbalicious”

Rangle also allegedly lied to other workers about Hudson’s sexual orientation and sexual practices. When Hudson complained to the company, he was laid off and the alleged harasser took over Hudson’s routes.

Sexual desire is not a necessary part of a sexual harassment claim. Using sexual innuendo and slurs to harass and bully someone violates California’s sexual harassment laws. Employers have a legal obligation to prevent harassment from occurring. Employers must stop harassment when they know about it. Beverley allegedly failed to do both.

Anti-Harassment Policies

Effective anti-harassment policies begin with upper management. A recent EEOC study confirms anti-harassment training is necessary but insufficient by itself. To stop inappropriate conduct, management and top-level executives need to make it clear that harassment and bullying are unacceptable in the workplace.

Anti-harassment policies must clearly inform employees what they can do if they observe or are victims of unwelcome conduct. The company must take prompt and effective action to stop the harassment. The month-long trial, which followed three years of litigation, is a harsh lesson on the importance of ensuring proper measures are in place to prevent and remedy unlawful harassment.

Robert Nuddleman, the East Bay employment attorney, represents employees who have suffered workplace harassment and employers wrongfully accused of failing to stop sexual harassment. Mr. Nuddleman conducts anti-harassment training to help employers identify, prevent and remedy harassment. Mr. Nuddleman also conducts independent investigations regarding workplace bullying, harassment, and other inappropriate conduct.

If you would like more information regarding sexual harassment, including anti-harassment training, contact my office today.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

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