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Bay Area Home Care Provider pays $340,000 for Client Harassment

EEOC Obtains $340,000 for Caregivers Harassed Daily by 80-Year-Old Client

 According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, R. MacArthur Corp. agreed to pay $340,000 in damages to five former employees resulting from a client’s inappropriate sexual conduct. R. MacArthur Corp.’s successor, San Oak Caring Hands LLC, agreed to implement measures to prevent future harassment.

According to the EEOC’s suit, “caregivers employed by RMC, a franchisee of Home Instead Senior Care, reported that an 80-year-old client in Alameda, Calif., repeatedly groped them, offered lewd com­ments about their breasts and buttocks, and made additional racially and sexually offensive comments while they were providing in-home assistance.” The EEOC claimed that the employer failed to act on employee complaints and even retaliated against one complaining caregiver by refusing to place her in other available assignments.

The employee who brought the charge to the EEOC said, “I’m hoping this settlement will encourage other in-home caregivers to realize that while we take care of people, we also deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and the laws protect us from harassment even when our workplace is inside someone else’s home.”

Under a five-year consent decree settling the suit, RMC will pay $340,000 to five caregivers. San Oak Caring Hands, the entity that now owns and operates RMC’s Home Instead franchises, will institute thorough anti-harassment training and policies that emphasize prevention, prompt correction and compe­tent investigation. San Oak will engage a consultant to review discrimination matters and provide perio­dic reporting of its training, policies and complaint investigation to the EEOC.

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Linda Ordonio-Dixon said, “It’s important that we send a clear message that harassment is not part of a caregiver’s job description and that employers must do what they can to prevent and correct any abuses, even if the workplace happens to be in a client’s home. In-home care­givers can be particularly vulnerable to harassment, and one of the EEOC’s top priorities is to defend vulnerable workers against discrimination.”

EEOC San Francisco District Director William Tamayo noted, “According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, home health aides have been projected to be the fourth-fastest growing occupation in the nation. In fact, California has just passed legislation, AB 3082, ensuring that the state Department of Social Services develop anti-harassment training and a method to track cases of sexual harassment of in-home care providers.”

One of the difficulties in caring for persons with diminished capacity is the lack of impulse control. Some care recipients lack the ability to control their sexual comments and conduct. Placing employees in such an environment creates a risk for the employer, but the person still requires care. The company may have to choose between providing services to a client that requires services and protecting its employees from unlawful harassment. Having handled several similar cases, I know this is a very difficult decision.

There are steps employers can take to protect employees even if the client’s medical condition creates a potentially hostile work environment. Open communication channels are necessary, and the company has to ensure the employees know that their protection is important. If an employer cannot establish sufficient measures to protect the employees, the company may not be able to provide the services the client needs.

Original Article by Robert Nuddleman of the Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Using this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. Using the Internet or this blog to communicate with the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted on this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employers and employees in a wide range of employment law matters. Much of his practice focuses on wage and hour issues, such as unpaid overtime, meal and rest break violations, designing or enforcing commission plans, and other wage-related claims. He also advises employers on how to avoid harassment and wrongful termination claims, and represents employees who have been victims of unlawful discrimination, retaliation or harassment. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. helps employers develop good employment policies, and helps employers and employees with disability accommodation issues.

Is Your Workforce a Suicide Squad?

Ok. I admit it. I’m a fan of super-hero movies. When I found out DC’s Suicide Squad was opening on my daughter’s birthday it was a no brainer. So I loaded the family into the mini-van and took them to see it opening day. The basic plot consists of a team of dangerous, incarcerated super villains “recruited” for a top-secret mission.

Amanda Waller, the U.S. intelligence officer who assembles the team, specializes in getting people to do what she wants. She has one character’s heart locked in a box. She motivates another character by promising he can spend time with his family. The idea is that each member of the team has separate motivations. Waller uses–OK, exploits–those motivations toward a common goal.

Suicide Squad in Your Workplace?

As a movie, Suicide Squad did not disappoint. As an employment attorney, it got me thinking. I’m not suggesting employers run out and hire dangerous super villains. If we put aside Waller’s I-don’t-care-who-gets-killed mentality, and the hundreds of zombie-like bad guys put down by rapid machine-gun fire, there may be a few lessons for life and the workplace.

  1. A properly motivated team can overcome extreme obstacles.
  2. You can’t properly motivate someone unless you know what makes them tick.
  3. Although others can motivate us, we work better when we motivate ourselves.
  4. Working as a team is almost always better than working alone (except when it’s not).
  5. When management warns you of the consequences should you fail to follow directions, you’d better follow directions (Alas, poor Slipknot, we knew thee little).
  6. Failure is always an option, but we probably won’t like the results.
  7. A carrot is usually a better motivator than a stick.

Workplace Fairness

I frequently advise employee clients that employers are not required to treat employees fairly. I also advise my employer clients that treating employees fairly is the best way to avoid problems (including legal problems) in the workplace. Consider your work environment.  Whether you’re an employee or an employer, are you motivating your colleagues and yourself toward success? Are you treating others the way you want to be treated? Do you have a killer crocodile living in your sewer? If you answered yes to at least two of those questions, you probably have a stable workforce that is building toward success. If not, then think about what you can change to improve your workplace

I’m hoping to see Jason Bourne soon.  We’ll just have to wait and see if I can any more bright ideas about the workplace.

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

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.