October 6, 2015

Jack Link’s Missing Link: Company Pays $50K to Settle Claim of Ongoing Sexual Harassment

Posted in Discrimination, Employee Handbooks, Gender / Sex, Harassment, Harassment, Hostile Work Environment, Minnesota Human Rights Act, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 10:28 am by Tom Jacobson

A recently settled Minnesota Department of Human Rights charge against Jack Link’s Beef Jerky emphasizes the importance of follow-through when responding to sexual harassment allegations. According to the Department, Jack Link’s initially took the “right step” in disciplining the alleged harasser but then failed to monitor the situation, which included ongoing harassment.

Specifically, MDHR reports that shortly after being hired by Jack Link’s, a female employee’s supervisor made sexual advances toward her, called her “baby,” said she was beautiful, asked if she was single, chanted “pack baby pack,” and asked if he was too old for her. The Department also reports that although Jack Link’s initially disciplined the supervisor, the company then promoted him to be woman’s direct supervisor, after which he continued to harass the employee. Claiming she could no longer tolerate the work environment, the woman quit.

Thus, based on the MDHR’s findings, the missing link in Jack Link’s response was the lack of follow-through and monitoring. As noted by MDHR Commissioner Kevin Lindsey:

This is an unusual case in that the employer took the right step in originally disciplining the supervisor. The employer however undermined its efforts by not subsequently monitoring the actions of the alleged harasser. Employers need to maintain contact with the employee who has complained of sexual harassment to make sure that the measures that they have undertaken are actually working.

To settle the charge, Jack Link’s agreed to pay the victim $50,000.00 and to provide training on the Minnesota Human Rights Act and how to properly respond to sexual harassment allegations.

Generally speaking, employers must first take steps to prevent unlawful workplace harassment. But if, despite those efforts, an employee claims that harassment has occurred, employers must take prompt action to correct and stop that behavior. As the Jack Link’s case points out, this includes careful monitoring and follow-through to make sure the harassment does not continue or recur.

For more information about this article or about the harassment training, policy development, and related services I can provide, please contact me at alexandriamnlaw.com or  taj@alexandriamnlaw.com.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

Copyright 2015 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz Cass, PA

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October 26, 2011

MDHR reports 20% jump in discrimination charges

Posted in Disability, Discrimination, Employee Handbooks, Gender / Sex, Race, Sexual Harassment tagged , , , , , at 12:02 pm by Tom Jacobson

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights reports that during the first half of 2011, it received 455 charges of discrimination.  This represents a twenty percent increase when compared with the previous six month period.

Other notable figures from the MDHR’s report, which was submitted on October 11 to the Minnesota Legislature, include:

  • Disability discrimination charges accounted for the highest percentage of cases (24%); race and sex discrimination were next (15% each).
  • MDHR recovered $209,197 in monetary damages for charging parties.
  • 41 cases were submitted to mediation, and 21 of those cases were settled in mediation.
  • 60% of charges were dismissed for lack of merit.
  • 9% of charges were closed after findings of probable cause, while 16% were closed after findings of no probable cause.
The MDHR is responsible for enforcing the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which covers discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation and other areas.  However, the vast majority of the MDHR’s activity (61.2%, according to this report), is in the area of employer discrimination.

It is difficult to determine whether the recent surge in charges is due to more aggressive enforcement by the MDHR, better outreach, more unlawful discrimination, and/or greater awareness on the part of employees and other aggrieved parties. Regardless of the cause, the MDHR’s report confirms the importance of maintaining sound equal employment opportunity policies.

For more information about this article, please contact me at taj@alexandriamnlaw.com.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

Copyright 2011 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA

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