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Braun Electric Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Garden variety sexual harassment exists in all types of workplaces. Employers will get away with it unless employees take action to stop it. Samara Schmidt took such action and her employer paid the price.

Schmidt worked for Braun Electric Co. in Bakersfield, California. According to a lawsuit filed on her behalf by the EEOC, she along with other female co-workers was continually subjected to a hostile work environment since 2010. She alleged that her supervisor subjected her and other workers to sexually offensive comments and derogatory names on a daily basis.

These comments included calling Schmidt a "slippery clitted bulldyke," commenting that he wanted to see her and a co-worker kiss and touch their breasts, and asking if she wanted "creamy jizz." Among the comments made to other women were comments about their breasts, according to the complaint.

Schmidt asked the supervisor to stop, but the behavior continued. Braun Electric took no steps to remedy the situation. Braun's management failed to address the numerous reports of harassment, and supervisors filed even to report incidents of harassment that they witnessed. One female employee was forced to quit as a result of the ongoing hostile work environment, according to the EEOC.

On October 15, Braun agreed to pay $82,500 to settle the sexual harassment suit. Pursuant to the three-year consent decree settling the suit, aside from the monetary relief obtained for the victims, Braun Electric agreed to retain an experienced, external equal employment opportunity monitor to review and revise its existing policies and procedures with respect to discrimination, harassment and retaliation. The company further agreed to provide annual training for all staff on employee rights with respect to gender discrimination, harassment and retaliation and provide additional annual training for supervisory staff on how to adequately address such complaints.

Melissa Barrios, director for the EEOC's Fresno's Local Office, added, "As agents of the employer, supervisors and managers should act as role models and promote an environment free of harassment. Employers should make sure that supervisory staff is trained not only on the laws against workplace harassment, but also on how to effectively prevent and address such issues."

The takeaway: Sexual harassment is illegal, but sometimes it takes a brave employee willing take the legal actions necessary to make it stop. If you are subject to sexual harassment in the workplace which creates a hostile work environment, don't stand for it.

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