Enter your email address to receive new posts in your inbox:

Delivered by FeedBurner


Like what you see? Share!

Verrill Dana, LLP

Verrill Dana, LLP is one of New England's preeminent regional law firms. With offices in Portland and Augusta, ME; Boston, MA; Westport, CT; Providence, RI; and Washington D.C. Verrill Dana provides sophisticated legal representation to businesses and individuals in the traditional areas of litigation, real estate, business law, labor and employment law, employee benefits, environmental law, intellectual property and estate planning.  The Firm also has industry-focused specialties including higher education, health care and health technology, energy, and timberlands. 

Disclaimer:  The content presented in this blog is for general information only, is not intended to constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by any person as legal advice. While we welcome you to contact our blog authors at, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you. 

Entries in Sexual Harassment (11)


What Employers Need to Know About Conducting Internal Investigations (PODCAST)

In this episode of the Verrill Voices podcast, labor and employment attorney Doug Steinmetz discusses what employers need to know when considering or conducting internal investigations. Whether the investigation is triggered by an employee conflict, sexual harassment claim, or another event, your ability to conduct an effective investigation can pay enormous dividends. In particular, as stated by Doug in the podcast, it can decrease your liability to employee lawsuits and enforcement actions by government agencies, help to identify problems with your business and their solutions, and can build credibility with your employees. 

Click to read more ...


The "Weinstein Effect" and Workers' Comp: When Sexual Harassment or Assault is a Work-Related Injury

Anyone who is even half-paying attention to the news has been reminded that, despite years of open discussion and training around the issue of appropriate behavior in the workplace, some things just haven’t changed.  There are still predators, idiots and bores among us.  As the season for office holiday parties is upon us, it occurs to the author that there are those in the audience who may not realize that a sexual harassment claim could be the foundation of a workers’ compensation injury claim. And so, here I am to enlighten or scare you, depending on your perspective.  You’re welcome.

Click to read more ...


Mass SJC: Failure to Adequately Investigate Sexual Harassment has Consequences - Hundreds of Thousands of Them

Talk about sending a message! Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court just reinstated a $540,000 jury verdict in favor of a finance manager at a Lexus dealer who alleged that her supervisor sexually harassed her and that the dealer then failed to sufficiently investigate her claims. (Slip opinion here.)

At trial, Emma Gyulakian alleged a litany of offenses conducted by her supervisor, Emmanuel Ferreira.1 The jury found for her on her sexually hostile or offensive work environment claim and awarded $40,000 in compensatory damages and a whopping $500,000 in punitives. Lexus of Watertown then filed a Motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (jnov) on the punitives award, which the trial court granted, concluding that an employer may not be vicariously liable for punitive damages under Massachusetts law based purely on the actions of its supervisory personnel, and that Gyulakian did not provide the jury with sufficient evidence of outrageous or egregious behavior by Lexus.

Click to read more ...


Man Shows Genitals to Co-Workers: Litigation Follows (Vol. 3)

Noted legal scholar Chris Berman once stated that “once is an accident, twice is a trend, three times is a problem.” Or something like that.

At any rate, in today’s installment of the consequences of dropping trou at work, we bring you Davenport v. Nissan North America, Inc. There, Joslyne Davenport, a production assistant at a Nissan plant in Mississippi hired through Kelly Services, Inc., accused Fred Tate of exposing himself to her in September or October 2013. Tate was a line leader on Davenport’s shift, however he did not supervise her. Rather, another employee named Aaron Rodgers1 supervised both of them.

Click to read more ...


Employee Shows Genitals to Co-Workers: Litigation Follows

And in other news, scientists have discovered that fire is hot.

Humble reader, I give you Macias v. Southwest Cheese Company, LLC. Or, as I like to call it, the case that says that (allegedly) exposing yourself to co-workers (plural) multiple times and passing around pictures of your  . . . let’s go with manhood, can serve as a basis for a hostile work environment sexual harassment claim.

Aside from the no he didn’t/oh yes he did behavior the opinion details, Macias also illustrates the flexibility of the statute of limitations period in hostile work environment claims. Specifically, as long as an act contributing to the claim occurs within the limitations period, the court can consider the entire time period of the hostile environment, as long as there is a relationship between the acts occurring after the beginning of the filing period and the ones occurring before it. In Macias, the Court considered an untimely event (the employee exposing himself) because it “bore a sufficient relationship to his acts of exposing himself” to another employee within the limitations period.

The decision also shows the importance of regular and comprehensive sexual harassment training.1 Please let us know if you have any questions about this decision, or if our Labor & Employment Group can assist you in any way.

1You know, the kind that makes it clear that dropping your pants in front of co-workers is verboten.


How Not to Handle a “Jezebel Spirit”

The answer is fairly obvious: don’t refer to someone as having a Jezebel Spirit. If this happens, however, and an employee can’t help but make the reference, pray (literally and figuratively) that it is not a manager.

Last month, Lisa McKinley filed a lawsuit against the Salvation Army in Roanoke Virginia alleging a sexually hostile work environment. Her allegations included lewd statements from co-workers as well as multiple statements from her supervisor. The supervisor statements began at the time of her interview and are alleged (in the Complaint) to have continued throughout her employment, including statements regarding her dress, perfume, attractiveness and other similar subjects.

Ms. McKinley alleged that Mr. Moffitt referred to her as a Jezebel and noted that he had fallen “under her spell.” Mr. Moffitt allegedly has confirmed that he referred to Ms. McKinley as having a “Jezebel spirit” when the case was pending before the EEOC. This case operates as an important reminder of the importance of not just sexual harassment training, but manager training as well.