Hostile work environment harassment occurs when an employee feels humiliated, violated or offended by sexual conduct within the workplace, to the extent that the employee’s job performance is affected. The sexual conduct must be uninvited and unwanted in order to be illegal. Some examples of such behavior include: inappropriate comments, innuendos, gestures, whistling, solicitation of sexual favors and touching. In some circumstances, a hostile work environment may be established based on a single incident, if that incident is extremely severe. Other times, a hostile environment may be established by several inappropriate incidents.
Danielle Renneger worked at a call center in Indianola, Iowa where she answered questions regarding Toy Quest toys. While working at the call center, Renneger claimed she endured many instances of sexual harassment from her supervisor and other co-workers. She allegedly was called vulgar names like “whore” and “slut” daily. Renneger and another female co-worker also were forced to sit on their male co-worker’s laps. Her harassers sometimes would hold up money and ask her to dance. They would also accuse her of having sexually-transmitted diseases. In March 2008, Renneger was fired from the call center.
According to USA Today, Renneger filed a lawsuit against Manley Toy Direct LLC, Toy Network LLC, SLB Toys USA Inc., and Aquawood LLC. At trial, the jury awarded her $11.9 million, including $10 million in punitive damages. Renneger alleged that her former employer was responsible for the sexual harassment because “the harassers were just left on their own with no supervision, no accountability… . ” Renneger claimed it was difficult for her and her female co-workers to report this behavior, as a top supervisor allegedly was the person engaging in much of the harassment. Both men were fired after an internal investigation. Jill Zwagerman represented Renneger in this case.
Our Boston, MA sexual harassment lawyer experts specialize in sexual harassment claims. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a sexual assault, please contact our office today at 617-787-3700 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.