Author Topic: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)  (Read 11551 times)

Mustache_In_Training

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Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« on: April 08, 2015, 10:08:05 AM »
Hi All,

My wife works as an engineer for a very large aerospace company. Shes been there over 4 years and hasn't really enjoyed it very much. In the first group she was in she was bullied relentlessly and called a man, told she should be at home in the kitchen and generally mocked on a daily basis. Due to all the strain of that group she began taking antidepressants to deal with it.  She told her manager she wasn't happy and decided to switch groups. The next group she landed in, she was instantly sexually harassed (guy grabbed her leg and said he wanted to attack her). She found out this particular person was sexually harassing multiple women, so they all came forward to management. The guy got one unpaid day off of work and she still has to see him daily. There are also other men in this organization that tell her they'd like to see her without clothes on, etc.  She always tells them to stop and it's not okay to speak to her like that. One guy grabbed a woman's breast, she reported it and nothing happened to the guy. That lady has since quit due to the hostile environment. Unfortunately my wife hasn't kept records of the accounts and the scariest event was nearly 2 years ago. Additionally, her physical work environment is a giant shit-hole too. They stuck her and many other hapless souls in a basement that is infested with mice and roaches, has oxygen sensors mounted on the wall due to minimal oxygen levels. Also since they can only "afford" to take the garbage out once every two weeks it also smells awful and gnats and flies abound. I didn't quite believe it was as bad as she described, so I went there myself. Yep, It was disgusting. When we got to the basement I had trouble taking full breaths of air.

Since she was zombified from antidepressants, she didn't realize how much all this shit was affecting her, she just kept going to work and kept her head down. Since December she had been having horrific, debilitating stomach pains. We went to see doctor after doctor trying to understand what was causing it. The doctors weren't able to find anything wrong. During several months of agony we tried several different diets, therapies, acupuncture, herbal supplements, etc. Nothing seemed to work and the medication to treat the symptoms didn't really help. So, she decided to try getting off the antidepressants, because we thought it may be contributing to her stomach pains. Well, while tapering off the antidepressants she became painfully aware of how shitty her work environment is and that she is legitimately terrified to go into work. Without the antidepressants clouding her judgement, she was able to piece together that her job (along with grad. school and some family issues) was creating her severe stomach pains. It was all stress manifesting itself as physical symptoms.

We actually visited the Mayo Clinic to make absolutely sure this was the case. The doctors there validated our thoughts. Since we now understand that her conditions were caused by many workplace related issues, it's obvious she needs to get the hell out of there. The one thing looming over our heads is if she leaves the company now, we will owe $30k since she was 3/4 through graduate school paid for by the company. Since we were working towards FI, most of our savings exists in the form of 401ks. We have very minimal savings in actual cash.

In my mind there are three options:
1. Move to a different group within the company and pray it will be better
2. Quit, owe $30k - She can find stuff to do at home to make her happy. Might be harder to find another job with a gap in employment.
3. Continue with shit job until she finds a new job, quit, owe $30k.

One thing about my wife, she is extremely driven and feels like she has to be doing something productive or she's not worthwhile. I am afraid if she just straight up quits, it will further her depression and make her feel worthless. Despite me telling her I am completely fine with her quitting. In my mind, there's nothing more important than health and sanity.

She attempted to call a lawyer that deals in sexual harassment cases and he wanted specific dates, times, and events within the last 6 months. Well hell, what human operates like that? "I am scared for my safety, hold on - let me get out my pencil and paper."

Any advice for what choice to make? Should she cut the cord and bail? Pursue further legal action? I will reiterate, I know nothing is more important than health, safety and sanity. I just wish there was a way to get out of there without paying back the evil corporation $30,000. If she does end up just saying "F" you to the company, how should we best pay back the $30k? We have about that in home equity (HELOC)? We certainly have enough in 401ks. We could take out a loan?

Thanks for reading and sorry for the rambling. I am pretty upset by this whole situation and need good advice.

EDIT: By the way, I keep kicking myself for not telling her to get out of there sooner! What was I thinking?

« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 10:18:42 AM by Mustache_In_Training »

ToeInTheWater

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2015, 10:16:04 AM »
** definitely not a lawyer here**

but, is is possible the company would waive the $30K if she agreed not sue pursue legal action on the sexual harassment?
it wouldn't be lying to say "i've already talked to a lawyer..." without mentioning she hasn't written down every detail

b

AlwaysBeenASaver

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2015, 10:16:59 AM »
I would say move to a different group and if anything unacceptable happens going forward, record date/time/incident, and aim to finish up grad school as quickly as feasible. If she can survive for a few months, it will either be a better environment OR she'll have 3 months of recorded incidents and can call the lawyer back. Once she finishes grad school, move to a different company w/o owing $30K.

ohana

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2015, 10:25:20 AM »
This is HORRIBLE and completely inappropriate.  This sounds like a classic "hostile environment" harassment case.

Find another lawyer.  Take other women with you to the meeting.  Start writing down everything that happens, as a group.  Report these incidences to HR so they are documented.  The worst part of this is not that they happened (already horrible), but that the company is not doing anything.  This allows the perpetrators to continue with their campaign of bullying.  It is a violation of civil rights.  If you don't report them, the company can't be held responsible.

You can also report the next incident to the US Equal Employment Commission within 180 days of it occurring (although in some states this is longer). 

This is a good summary of your rights:

http://www.madufflaw.com/pdf/basics.pdf

I can't imagine a large aerospace corporation would take the risk of this occurring. Do they have a sexual harassment policy?  If so, read it.   

zinnie

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2015, 10:33:17 AM »
Document everything going forward, talk to multiple lawyers, and talk to others in the company who have experienced/witnessed these situations. It might be possible to find some records of past dates/times--did those harassed ever chat or email about the instances with each other? Did anything ever occur over work communication systems? She should get those who have experienced this together and try to get some records together.

Oh my goodness, this is so awful that it is impacting her physical health, why wasn't she out of there yesterday?

This should not be happening at a large company. Be the one who does something about it, and the $30k for grad school will be the last thing on the company's mind...

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2015, 10:35:32 AM »
This is not legal advice but life advice.

She should consider filing for worker's comp.  Any injury, including mental injury caused by work usually goes on comp.  If her doctor orders her out of work she could likely get 60% of her pay. 

She could also look into medical leaves of absence through FMLA.  Regarding paying back tuition is that if she leaves for any reason? Many have clauses where you don't pay it back if you leave for medical reasons and are not re-employed for x years.

A short stint without a job wouldn't be so bad if she could attribute it to a medical issue now resolved when in interviews.

Because she hasn't been fired or lost a promotion because of her gender her damages may be considered too minor for a contingent fee lawyer right now.

She can likely file without a lawyer through her state's human rights commission but they will work towards "fixing the workplace" rather than just compensating her for time out of work unless she can prove constructive discharge which in some states is a very very very high standard.

I think comp might be her best option here.

charis

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2015, 10:39:09 AM »
A) Have her document the sexual harassment in her current group.  B) Report it to HR and request to be moved to another group.  C) Document and report anything inappropriate in that group to HR.

Is she finished with grade school? How long does she have to work there before she no longer owes the money?

D) Consult with an employment lawyer.  E) Decide whether to resign based on current environment and lawyer's advice re legal options.  F) Have lawyer write strongly worded letter demanding that your wife be relieved of her obligation to pay the $30K or an action will be filed.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 11:01:34 AM by jezebel »

mm1970

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2015, 10:39:35 AM »
Change groups
Document EVERYTHING.  Paper and electronic.  Video on her phone if she can get it.
The workman's comp thing is good too.

By documenting everything she can sue, which means she won't have to pay back the grad school.

One side of me says "just get out!" but that doesn't fix the problem at the company.  As a senior female engineer, she should at least do what she can to stop it.

Mustache_In_Training

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2015, 10:55:21 AM »
Document everything going forward, talk to multiple lawyers, and talk to others in the company who have experienced/witnessed these situations. It might be possible to find some records of past dates/times--did those harassed ever chat or email about the instances with each other? Did anything ever occur over work communication systems?

Unfortunately the guy doing the majority of the harassing is the IT guy. Her archived emails documenting what happened mysteriously disappeared....


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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2015, 10:55:37 AM »
Lawyer up! This behavior is unacceptable. She shouldn't have to quit her job because of a couple of turds. The turds are the ones that should lose their jobs.

Mustache_In_Training

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2015, 10:57:59 AM »
She could also look into medical leaves of absence through FMLA.  Regarding paying back tuition is that if she leaves for any reason? Many have clauses where you don't pay it back if you leave for medical reasons and are not re-employed for x years.


She found out about FMLA and has been doing that for a few months. It only gives her 2 days/week unpaid away from the hell. Will look into workers comp. She told our family doctor what was going on, his advice was to sue. As he was prescribing her new antidepressants, he said "these pills probably won't work if you're stuck in that environment".

Mustache_In_Training

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2015, 10:59:21 AM »
Is she finished with grade school? How long does she have to work there before she no longer owes the money?

Not finished, but at this point doesn't give a shit about school.. Just wants to be out of there. She would have to continue working 1.5 years until she's free of owing money back.

ysette9

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2015, 11:01:40 AM »
The behavior you describe is appalling. As a female engineer working for a large aerospace company, I can't believe that such awful behavior exists, let alone is tacitly condoned by the workforce. What part of the country do you live/work in? Here in CA that kind of behavior would NEVER fly.

I agree with others: document, document document. Maybe not in the moment, but sit down as soon as she has a clear moment and write everything down. She should be doing that right now for everything she can possibly remember. Enlist help of her other coworkers who have experienced or witnessed similar behavior. Speak with a lawyer, several if you have to, until you find one who is willing to go to bat for you.

Another thought: if you live in an area of the country known for bad behavior, I would reach up the HR chain to someone who works out of an office in a different part of the country. I expect that her "large aerospace company" has branches in other states. Find someone who works in a place like CA or NY or someplace known to support diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Bring up your concerns with that person and make it clear that you have gotten no support from your local HR and management. At higher levels in the company, there should be people who will take a stand and make it clear this is unacceptable.

Good luck. My heart goes out to you.

charis

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2015, 11:03:25 AM »
Document everything going forward, talk to multiple lawyers, and talk to others in the company who have experienced/witnessed these situations. It might be possible to find some records of past dates/times--did those harassed ever chat or email about the instances with each other? Did anything ever occur over work communication systems?

Unfortunately the guy doing the majority of the harassing is the IT guy. Her archived emails documenting what happened mysteriously disappeared....

She should have/should be printing and forwarding any emails to her personal email account.

GizmoTX

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2015, 11:09:28 AM »
Document everything going forward, talk to multiple lawyers, and talk to others in the company who have experienced/witnessed these situations. It might be possible to find some records of past dates/times--did those harassed ever chat or email about the instances with each other? Did anything ever occur over work communication systems?

Unfortunately the guy doing the majority of the harassing is the IT guy. Her archived emails documenting what happened mysteriously disappeared....

She needs to copy/send email to her own personal account on a home computer.

Mustache_In_Training

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2015, 11:12:31 AM »
The behavior you describe is appalling. As a female engineer working for a large aerospace company, I can't believe that such awful behavior exists, let alone is tacitly condoned by the workforce. What part of the country do you live/work in? Here in CA that kind of behavior would NEVER fly.

Thanks for your kind words! We live in Alabama with good 'ol boys.

partgypsy

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2015, 11:20:25 AM »
Ug. i feel for her. I was in a hostile working situation, and yes your survival skills kick in so you try to filter out all the crap and just get your job done, until your body cries "uncle" and refuses to take any more. Yes forward emails. write down time place, also names of anyone else there. See if she can find at 1 least one other person who can corroberate these things. Even right after that happens, to another even male coworker, did you hear what he said? etc.

Not to not be discouraging, but I did end up doing what I was supposed to, and nothing of substance happened. In my case it was because I got pregnant, and after that being a breastfeeding mom. HR acknowledged it was happening, and their answer was, "well I guess you can find another job". When I ended up losing said job, got a lawyer. Had 15 pages of accounts of things that happened, and that I had a case, and could sue. And she asked, did I want to sue? I said no, I just want to get another job and move on. I also met with EOC at the place. they took my information, and told me that they "legally" could not do anything about it, they could only make "suggestions". They also tried to get me to sign a document that I wouldn't tell anyone what happened, which I declined. I guess I was naive, but was in disbelief at how poorly the institution dealt with the situation. And apparently the same person got in trouble (I'm not totally sure what the reason but that someone made a complaint about her), ended up being asked to go, but that was years after I left so it wasn't much comfort. 
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 11:24:27 AM by partgypsy »

Mustache_In_Training

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2015, 11:34:58 AM »
Ug. i feel for her. I was in a hostile working situation, and yes your survival skills kick in so you try to filter out all the crap and just get your job done, until your body cries "uncle" and refuses to take any more. Yes forward emails. write down time place, also names of anyone else there. See if she can find at 1 least one other person who can corroberate these things. Even right after that happens, to another even male coworker, did you hear what he said? etc.

Not to not be discouraging, but I did end up doing what I was supposed to, and nothing of substance happened. In my case it was because I got pregnant, and after that being a breastfeeding mom. HR acknowledged it was happening, and their answer was, "well I guess you can find another job". When I ended up losing said job, got a lawyer. Had 15 pages of accounts of things that happened, and that I had a case, and could sue. And she asked, did I want to sue? I said no, I just want to get another job and move on. I also met with EOC at the place. they took my information, and told me that they "legally" could not do anything about it, they could only make "suggestions". They also tried to get me to sign a document that I wouldn't tell anyone what happened, which I declined. I guess I was naive, but was in disbelief at how poorly the institution dealt with the situation. And apparently the same person got in trouble (I'm not totally sure what the reason but that someone made a complaint about her), ended up being asked to go, but that was years after I left so it wasn't much comfort.

That is very discouraging! I can imagine you were disgusted at the end of all that, especially with no action taken. You would think work places would take this stuff very seriously and be on the side of the victims, not the other way around.

GizmoTX

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2015, 11:43:08 AM »
Other states would be severely penalizing behaviors like this. Texas for one.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2015, 12:26:45 PM »
Given your description of her workspace, I would be concerned about the possibility of low level carbon monoxide poisoning.  This can cause nausea and obdominal pain.  At least get a home carbon monoxide monitor at Home Depot and put in on or near her desk to rule this out.

Also - are there any clear OSHA violations in that basement?  She might contact them to look at the space.

In the meantime - I'd vote for a transfer while looking for a new job.  She should report ALL incidents to HR.  They may forgive her debt if she looks like a risk to sue.

Sibley

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #20 on: April 08, 2015, 12:31:59 PM »
Someone help me out - there's a state/federal department which looks into employment complaints re: discrimination, etc. They're pretty harsh I've heard. Who are they????

File a complaint! get all the women to file complaints! It's not just morally wrong, it's legally wrong.

Indio

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2015, 12:36:56 PM »
Contact you state's human rights commission to file a complaint. They will investigate for free and recommend changes and/ or mediate a settlement.

mm1970

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2015, 01:11:02 PM »
Document everything going forward, talk to multiple lawyers, and talk to others in the company who have experienced/witnessed these situations. It might be possible to find some records of past dates/times--did those harassed ever chat or email about the instances with each other? Did anything ever occur over work communication systems?

Unfortunately the guy doing the majority of the harassing is the IT guy. Her archived emails documenting what happened mysteriously disappeared....

That's why you don't just archive them, you forward them to a couple of other email addresses that aren't work related addresses...I'm not in IT, but I assume he cannot mysteriously disappear her own private gmail account?

Or take screen shots?

Copy the emails as PDFs onto a thumb drive?

BlueHouse

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2015, 01:23:50 PM »
I'm going out on a limb here by guessing that your wife works on FEDERAL contracts. (Large aerospace company, Alabama, hint hint)

Harassment and discrimination are taken extremely seriously on federal government contracts.   This organization could lose billions of dollars in contracts if accusations are true and can be supported (including HR doing little or nothing). More likely, they would be subject to fines.  I am truly saddened to hear that this type of hi jinks still exists anywhere.  Truly sorry for your wife's experience.  It sucks.  I'm female and I get a little bit of the old boys network, but nothing blatant.  That would really be hard to deal with. 

Check out Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program.  http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/

hunniebun

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #24 on: April 08, 2015, 01:32:58 PM »
I am so terribly sorry for your wife and your family going through this. What a nightmare.  It makes me sick to think that my fellow professional woman still have to endure this kind of blatant harassment in the work place and am astonished that the company doesn't take it more seriously.  I think there is some very good advice already provided about documenting moving forward...but I think it is also prudent to sit down and think of some instances that have happened in the past (especially things that were reported, even if you don't have the exact date/time).   The next time anyone physically touched me, I would also be phoning the police immediately...and the perhaps calling the media next.  Most companies don't want a public scandal.  But the sad truth is that all of the these options are going to lead to more stress in the short term, which isn't great health wise.  Perhaps she can negotiate her exit and find a company that isn't filled with asshats.

REfinAnon

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2015, 01:34:31 PM »
1. Lawyer Up
2. When she quits, let it be known that you have already sought legal counsel and are considering your options.

With these two steps taken, I think you can be virtually assured that they are not going to come after you for the 30K when you have such a legitimate threat of legal action of your own.

I see no way your lawyer won't be able to negotiate a "let's both walk away" type of agreement.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2015, 01:38:09 PM »
The OSHA angle is a good one. Absolutely bizarre.

Sblak

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #27 on: April 08, 2015, 01:41:48 PM »
I would first contact the local EEOC government office and ask them to investigate. 

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Birmingham District Office
Ridge Park Place
1130 22nd Street
Suite 2000
Birmingham, AL 32205
Phone: 205-731-0082/3
TTY: 205-731-0095

It sounds like a place that fits into this description from the EEOC website:

http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-sex.cfm

I would start to record everything that happens in external emails. 

I would talk to the other women and ask them to support your story and your lawsuit. 

You may need to be willing to get your own lawyer with the aim of getting out without owing anything.  You might  sue the company for sexual harassment and emotional and physical damages first, but be willing to negotiate since all you really want is that your wife is able to get out without owning. 
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 01:43:27 PM by Sblak »

Mustache_In_Training

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #28 on: April 08, 2015, 02:33:43 PM »
I'm going out on a limb here by guessing that your wife works on FEDERAL contracts. (Large aerospace company, Alabama, hint hint)

Harassment and discrimination are taken extremely seriously on federal government contracts.   This organization could lose billions of dollars in contracts if accusations are true and can be supported (including HR doing little or nothing). More likely, they would be subject to fines.  I am truly saddened to hear that this type of hi jinks still exists anywhere.  Truly sorry for your wife's experience.  It sucks.  I'm female and I get a little bit of the old boys network, but nothing blatant.  That would really be hard to deal with. 

Check out Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program.  http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/

Great information. You are going out on the correct limb!

Thanks to everyone for the kind words and advice. I do have one concern with the whole "lawyering up" aspect, if we pursue legal action would that impact her future job prospects?

AlwaysBeenASaver

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #29 on: April 08, 2015, 02:37:26 PM »
I do have one concern with the whole "lawyering up" aspect, if we pursue legal action would that impact her future job prospects?

Someone at my prior job filed a discrimination case against the company. She got a settlement and part of the settlement agreement was that the company could not mention the lawsuit to anyone, including future employers, requests for references/whatever.

Mustache_In_Training

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #30 on: April 08, 2015, 02:42:03 PM »
I do have one concern with the whole "lawyering up" aspect, if we pursue legal action would that impact her future job prospects?

Someone at my prior job filed a discrimination case against the company. She got a settlement and part of the settlement agreement was that the company could not mention the lawsuit to anyone, including future employers, requests for references/whatever.

Very smart, glad to know you can cover your butt.

BlueHouse

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #31 on: April 08, 2015, 03:15:13 PM »
I do have one concern with the whole "lawyering up" aspect, if we pursue legal action would that impact her future job prospects?
Look at any whistleblower and see how they are treated.  The protections that are meant to exist just don't really work well.  Could you guys handle it if she were treated worse than before?

partgypsy

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #32 on: April 08, 2015, 03:19:11 PM »
That's why I decided not to sue, I didn't want to get "blacklisted" or seen as a complainer and at the time was still trying to pursue a job in the same institution. In retrospect I'm not sure if I did the right thing.

waffle

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #33 on: April 08, 2015, 03:55:11 PM »
I work in HR, so I can give some advise. I'm not a lawyer but have some experience with sexual harassment cases and investigations.

First to be considered sexual harassment the treatment must be severe and/or pervasive. It sounds like from your description your wife is dealing with both. Upon filing a complaint with HR or her manager (all managers are generally responsible as representative of the company to bubble up complaints to the appropriate people in the company) there should have been an official investigation launched and the accused should have been sent home until it was resolved.

You're lawyer wanted specifics to put together the best case possible, but perfect details certainly aren't necessary. With enough witnesses and having the other incidences documented as best as possible it should still be a pretty easy case. When the suit is filed against the company most records become discoverable meaning that HR records, emails, etc... can be subpoenaed and used in court, and it would be unlawful to destroy those records.

Also retaliation for a complaint made in good faith is illegal, so if your wife was discriminated against because of her initial complaints (Like being moved to poor working conditions in the basement) that is another lawsuit there as well.

If all else fails as others have suggested make a complaint to OSHA for the poor and unsanitary working conditions and to your local EEOC office for the harassment. If the company has half a brain then as soon as you mention you are seeking legal counsel for the issues they should start jumping to it and get their act together. If something like this goes to court and you win then the company could be liable for compensatory damages to compensate you for your wife's care and lost wages as well as punitive damages if its shown that they allowed it to happen through gross negligence.

Oh and one last note. Sue everyone. The individual(s) who is doing the harassing is liable for his actions as well as the company. Best of luck and I hope it gets resolved.

waffle

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #34 on: April 08, 2015, 04:00:12 PM »
Sorry for being so long winded, but I also wanted to tell you that I wouldn't start paying back the 30k unless the company comes after it. There is a decent chance that they wont if she is leaving due to harassment. I wouldn't recommend quitting though. Stay there till the legal action plays out or until your lawyer says to leave.

mr42

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #35 on: April 08, 2015, 06:26:54 PM »
Just my two cents.
If a lawsuit happens they would have a hard time firing her as they could be sued for wrongful termination based on discrimination and have to pay lost wages.

Look into getting a small audio or video recorder, they make all kinds of cheap ones out their, pens, watches, key chains etc... Having some undeniable evidence would be a huge advantage.

merula

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #36 on: April 08, 2015, 07:13:29 PM »
Quick note on the mention of Worker's Comp. Very few states (basically just CA, IIRC) allow WC benefits for "mental-mental" injuries. That is to say, mental injuries in and of themselves caused by work. Most states will only deem mental injury compensable if it's tied to a physical injury. For example, your workplace burns down, you have burn injuries and PTSD from watching your coworkers die. Compensable. Your workplace burns down while you're at lunch, you get PTSD from watching your coworkers but have no physical injuries yourself, not compensable.

That said, it's possible that the low oxygen levels are causing this, which would be a workplace environment issue causing a physical injury and compensable. But it's pretty hard to get WC benefits for longer-term injuries like occupational disease, hearing loss, carpal tunnel, etc. because the whole system is set up on a "date of injury" basis.

I'm so sorry your wife is experiencing this, and best of luck in working something out.

Cinder

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #37 on: April 08, 2015, 09:09:48 PM »
For everyone saying to get a recording device, usb drive, etc.., no mention was made one way or the other if the area she works in allows recording devices (sensitive materials that aren't releasable to the public due to govt obligation).  I'm sure if that's the case she knows not to do it due to risking prison time.

Overall though, I hope everything works out for you!

charis

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #38 on: April 09, 2015, 07:13:31 AM »
I do have one concern with the whole "lawyering up" aspect, if we pursue legal action would that impact her future job prospects?
Look at any whistleblower and see how they are treated.  The protections that are meant to exist just don't really work well.  Could you guys handle it if she were treated worse than before?

You have to at least TALK to a lawyer about this to know whether legal action is even possible.  You don't have to DO anything, but you need to know all of your options (which you won't until you talk to a lawyer) before you can begin to make an educated decision.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #39 on: April 09, 2015, 08:45:39 AM »
Quick note on the mention of Worker's Comp. Very few states (basically just CA, IIRC) allow WC benefits for "mental-mental" injuries. That is to say, mental injuries in and of themselves caused by work. Most states will only deem mental injury compensable if it's tied to a physical injury. For example, your workplace burns down, you have burn injuries and PTSD from watching your coworkers die. Compensable. Your workplace burns down while you're at lunch, you get PTSD from watching your coworkers but have no physical injuries yourself, not compensable.

That said, it's possible that the low oxygen levels are causing this, which would be a workplace environment issue causing a physical injury and compensable. But it's pretty hard to get WC benefits for longer-term injuries like occupational disease, hearing loss, carpal tunnel, etc. because the whole system is set up on a "date of injury" basis.

I'm so sorry your wife is experiencing this, and best of luck in working something out.

I think more states are starting to allow mental/mental comp because the workers are prohibited from bringing negligent infliction of emotional distress claims against their employer.  You can't have it both ways.  Either you are allowed to sue for NIED claims or you are allowed to bring mental/mental comp.  I know mental/mental is very hard to prove in my state (not California - northeast) but it is an option.

merula

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #40 on: April 09, 2015, 08:50:29 AM »
What's the prohibition on suits against an employer? My understanding (not a lawyer, just work in insurance) is that the prohibition on suits is only if you've accepted WC benefits.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #41 on: April 09, 2015, 11:50:44 AM »
What's the prohibition on suits against an employer? My understanding (not a lawyer, just work in insurance) is that the prohibition on suits is only if you've accepted WC benefits.

Generally you can't bring a personal injury suit against your employer.  The comp statute has benefits and burdens to both the employee and employer.  With comp, there is strict liability.  If I trip at work and break my ankle it is comp even if the employer wasn't acting negligently.  Benefit employee.  However, if my neighbor is negligent in keeping up his lawn and I trip I get my medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering/loss of enjoyment of life.  So I get paid for the pain and paid for the skiing I used to love but couldn't do this winter.  Not so for comp in my state.  Medical bills and lost wages only.  Benefit, employer.  There is no jury trial.  It is all done in an administrative hearing.  Keeps costs down.    Benefits both  parties I guess.

You can sue your employer for other stuff like discrimination but even then you have to go through administrative boards first in most states like the HRC or federally the EEOC. Statutes of limitation are much shorter than in regular personal injury cases.  If an injury is caused by discrimination that can sometimes fall under either statute, employee choice.  If you might not be able to prove the discrimination, comp is sometimes better because of strict liability.  You still have to prove it was a work injury though and that can be hard w/ mental/mental injuries.  They could argue other reasons in her life were making her depressed/anxious.

Mustache_In_Training

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #42 on: April 09, 2015, 01:26:34 PM »
Hi All, Thanks to everyone for the great insight and advice. It's awesome all the support and encouragement everyone gives! My wife is actively trying to get into a different (woman led) group within the company. We can only hope and pray the attitudes of the bubbas will be better, especially with a lady boss.

I still can't fathom why this behavior is tolerated in such a large "respected" company. I've discussed what's been happening with my own boss (I work in a smaller company in uber-rural Alabama) he said that person would have been gone the same day.

TrMama

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Re: Advice for Wife (Potentially legal advice)
« Reply #43 on: April 09, 2015, 02:29:14 PM »
What a horrific situation. I'm not a US citizen, so I'll leave all the legal advice to others, but there are a few things that came to mind while I was reading.

Why can't she report the cases of groping to the police? If one of these men came up to her in a coffee shop and grabbed her, it would be assault. Why should it be any different at work?

Secondly, she should take a self defense class and preferably some mixed martial arts style offense training. Having this knowledge and experience may give her the confidence to really stand up to these people. Most of these places should offer one on one training so she won't have to be in a class with a bunch of guys. Frankly, if one of my coworkers grabbed me like that there's no way he'd get away from me unscathed and I'm pretty sure I give off a vibe to that effect. There is a certain way of carrying yourself that let's others know you are not to be messed with. Not to say that any of what happened is her fault, but as a woman living in an unenlightened part of the world this seems like a necessary life skill.