- A former labor analyst for the Florida-based Magical Cruise Company, doing business as Disney Cruise Line, has sued the company, alleging sex discrimination and sexual harassment, among other things, (McHugh v. Magical Cruise Company, LDT., No. 6:18-cv-01913 (M.D. Fla., Nov. 07, 2018)).
- In his lawsuit, Anthony McHugh alleged that he received outstanding performance reviews since he was hired in 1999. By 2016, he reported to a female senior manager who he said engaged in sexual relations with other staff and then recounted the details to him during their mandatory, one-on-one coaching sessions. The manager also stole medications prescribed to him for attention deficit disorder and anxiety, while refusing to accommodate his disability, the complaint says. McHugh also alleged that he was constantly passed over for promotions in favor of less qualified, female workers, who made up 60% of the company's workforce and whom he claims management favored. McHugh also alleged that his senior manager and other staff mocked him regularly, at times referring to him as a "stuffy old fart," and that after taking his complaints to the HR department, he suffered retaliation and was fired.
- McHugh requested a jury trial, along with injunctive relief, back pay, benefits and other remedies.
Experts continue to cite managers as the leading cause of employment law violations, and the allegations in McHugh make clear why. Managers need training not only on appropriate conduct and nondiscrimination requirements, but also on responding to complaints.
Likewise, HR must take all complaints seriously, experts say. Care must be taken to avoid any inference of retaliation, as even non-meritorious claims can amount to protected activity.
To avoid situations like those alleged in McHugh, employers can educate managers and equip HR departments with the tools and knowledge to receive and investigate complaints. Many, however, aren't doing so, according to recent research. A West Monroe Partners survey released in April revealed that 59% of managers report receiving no training at all. Without proper instruction, even the most well-intentioned managers may fail to meet compliance standards.