As 2012 comes to a close, it is unfortunate to say that in this modern day sexual harassment still exists in workplaces here in San Antonio. While sexual harassment is illegal and victims may have more options to hold their employers accountable than they did in the past, it is unfortunate that such behaviors find their way into our workplaces.
There are two general categories of sexual harassment. One is harassment that leads to a hostile work environment, and this can include inappropriate and unwanted comments and touching, among other things. The second category is quid pro quo which is Latin for “this for that.” This means that an employee is denied compensation or threatened with another employment action if he or she refuses to engage in sexual activity. In a recent high-profile sexual harassment lawsuit, the board chairman of Waffle House was accused of quid pro quo and creating a hostile work environment.
The lawsuit was filed by the man’s former assistant, who says that she is not the only victim. She has stated that she and several other women have been subjected to a pattern of harassment and sexual abuse.
Among other things, the lawsuit states that the board chairman required the woman to engage in sexual services as a condition of her employment. She was also required to purchase pornography and lingerie for her boss, and was subjected to inappropriate comments, according to the lawsuit.
It is notable that in 1998, in Texas, a judge found that this man condoned or sanctioned the similar conduct of Waffle House executives.
The board chairman has denied the allegations and stated that he had a consensual relationship with the woman and that she recently tried to extort him.
It is not uncommon for employers to deny wrongdoing, protect harassers and accuse the victims of wrongdoing. However, it is often possible to prove the case of the victim and obtain a fair financial settlement or award.
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, “‘Pattern of sexual harassment’ alleged against Waffle House board chair,” Christian Boone, Nov. 28, 2012