Hal Leonard Publishing, the Minnesota sheet music publisher, has agreed to settle a sexual harassment complaint brought by a former employee supported by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The former employee alleged numerous acts of sexual harassment on behalf of a class of female employees. The company will pay a sum of money and perform several remedial actions. The EEOC resolved the complaint without litigation.
The EEOC investigated allegations of sexual harassment and hostile work environment in Hal Leonard’s Minneapolis audience. It found evidence that employees had subjected several female employees to unconsented touching, described by the EEOC as “grabbing and squeezing;” and that female employees were often subjected to sexual comments and other inappropriate actions. Co-workers of the women committed the harassment, but the EEOC also found that the company’s management failed to respond to repeated complaints to management.
The EEOC’s Minneapolis director noted that a company that fails to enforce its own written sexual harassment policy could face serious legal consequences. The EEOC is a federal agency, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, tasked with investigating and, where necessary, filing suit on behalf of workers who are the victim of unlawful discrimination or harassment. A person who believes they have experienced discrimination or harassment must make a complaint to the EEOC. The EEOC will investigate the claim and make a determination as to whether it believes unlawful activity occurred. The EEOC typically tries to resolve a dispute without filing a lawsuit and going through the litigation process. In some cases, the EEOC will file suit directly on behalf of the complainant. In other cases, the EEOC will issue a “right to sue” letter giving the complainant legal sanction to file a lawsuit.
After investigating the allegations against Hal Leonard, the EEOC’s investigators concluded that unlawful harassment had occurred. It sought to resolve the matter on behalf of the complainant and others who had also suffered discrimination and harassment, treating the group as a “class” analogous to a class action lawsuit.
Hal Leonard agreed to pay $150,000 to settle the EEOC’s claim. Most of that amount will reportedly go to the complainant, who had to quit her job at Hal Leonard because of the harassment. The remainder of that amount will be split among other women who suffered harassment, as well as employees who witnessed the abuse.
In addition to the payment, Hal Leonard must apologize directly to the complainant. It must also provide anti-discrimination training to its employees annually for three years, possibly monitored by the EEOC, include accountability in managers’ performance evaluations, and keep the EEOC informed of any further complaints of sexual harassment for a three-year period.
The EEOC investigates and enforces federal anti-discrimination laws, which apply to the entire country. The laws applied in Minnesota are generally the same as those in New York. The law treats sexual harassment as a form of gender discrimination, which is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition to the EEOC, New Yorkers can seek the assistance from the New York State Division of Human Rights and the New York City Commission on Human Rights.
The New York sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates represent victims of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination, fighting to protect their rights. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.
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New York Waitress Sues Private Club for Sexual Harassment, New York Employment Attorney Blog, March 29, 2012
Archie Comics co-CEO Accused of Sexual Harassment in New York Lawsuit, New York Employment Attorney Blog, March 21, 2012
EEOC Sues New York Laundry Company Over Sexual Harassment, New York Employment Attorney Blog, March 14, 2012
Photo credit: ‘Guatacando’ by Dr clave (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons