- A construction contractor will pay $1.5 million to settle claims it ignored "severe" quid pro quo harassment, New York’s attorney general announced July 13.
- A state investigation concluded that Trade Off LLC subjected workers — "primarily women of color" — to severe sexual harassment and retaliation. The women said managers demanded sexual acts in return for pay and overtime opportunities, among other allegations. Company managers also "failed to take adequate action in response to complaints, and in fact, repeatedly protected harassers from punishment," the AG’s office said.
- Eighteen former employees will share the settlement.
HR should train managers to listen for harassment complaints, acknowledge them and escalate them through the proper channels, employment experts say. For example, managers can be taught to say, "Thank you for raising your concerns with me. I want you to know we take them seriously," and then inform workers about next steps, Jonathan Segal, a partner at Duane Morris LLP, told attendees at a 2018 conference.
If HR follows up with a good-faith investigation and action reasonably calculated to end any improper behavior, an employer will be in a good position to defend any later legal action, employment attorneys say.
But employers can go one step further, working to prevent such misconduct in the first place, according to Elizabeth Bille, now SVP, Workplace Culture at EVERFI. Such efforts can include clear messaging and bystander intervention, but will require buy-in from leadership, she said during a 2019 conference. "You've got to have CEOs and chairs of the board, leadership [and] managers" addressing the issue meaningfully, Bille said, "not just once a year but all the time."