$4 Million
Racial Harassment Settlement
$2 Million
Sexual Harassment Settlement
$4.5 Million
Sexual Harassment Settlement
$3 Million
Racial Harassment Settlement

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This is the third in a series of blog pieces written for and reviewed by the Charging Parties which explains their ordeal 

The CEO, the Head of Human Resources and the Therapy Team Leader Threaten to Fire Women who Complain about Sexual Harassment at Encompass, a Major Hospital Chain 

 
The CEO and the Director of Human Resources at Colorado Springs were required to report to Headquarters that they were receiving numerous complaints of sexual harassment perpetrated by the same provider who had been the subject of the sexual assault allegation. 

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Since a story aired in on WHSV3 in August regarding sexual harassment Charges filed with the EEOC by two former employees against Annandale Millwork and Allied Systems for ignoring complaints of sexual harassment by the “Design Manager” (referred to as the “Manager” in first blog post), four former employees of Annandale, have come forward with allegations based on what they witnessed working at Annandale. The allegations included an account of racial discrimination by Laurie Frogale, who ran Human Resources, and a situation where she observed one of her managers using racial slurs, with a person of color present, but said nothing to the harasser. The allegations, made under oath, include that a complaint was made to Frogale of sexual harassment by the Design Manager before the two women who filed Charges with the EEOC worked at Annandale and complaints about sexual harassment by other managers, which Laurie Frogale either ignored or condoned. The women who have come forward have provided sworn declarations alleging sexual harassment and disregard for their civil rights. Excerpts are repeated below.

The first Declarant stated under oath that she is African American and that when she was hired in September 2016 she had straight hair. In her sworn declaration she states that:

6.  However, around three months after I was hired, I decided to have my hair out in an afro. When Laurie noticed my hair that day, she approached me with a look of disgust and said, “What is this? This is not who I hired.”

LOGO-292x300EEOC Charges of Sexual Harassment Have Been Filed Against Annandale Millwork and Allied Systems Corp. Alleging Complaints were Ignored for Years

This is the first installment in a series of posts about two women who worked at Annandale Millwork and Allied Systems Corp., in Winchester, Virginia, who filed EEOC Charges alleging they were subjected to physical and verbal sexual harassment by their male Manager despite a previous complaint two years earlier by one of the women. On April 16, 2021, one woman complained to Human Resources employee Elizabeth Foster that the Manager was sexually harassing her, a second woman who filed a Charge with the EEOC, and other women.

Elizabeth texted the first woman that she had informed Laurie Frogale, Head of Human Resources. (In addition to being the Head of Annandale Human Resources, Laurie Frogale is one of the owners of Annandale.) Elizabeth texted the first woman that:

This is the second installment of a series of blog pieces about sexual harassment at Encompass Health. After a former employee posted a link to the previous blog piece, the Interim CEO of the Colorado Springs hospital held what could fairly be called a damage-control meeting. She revealed that she had sought talking points from Encompass’ legal counsel. One of the talking points was that this blog is just “attorney advertising”. While this blog is attorney advertising, and we know that some people who read our blog visit our website, these nine women who filed Charges of Discrimination believe the blog will help to ensure that what happened at Encompass does not happen again – at Encompass or elsewhere. These blog pieces comport with the information those nine had, collectively, when they filed the Charges and what has transpired since and they want you to know this is their collective voice as well as ours.

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“Encompass Health cannot resolve matters that are not brought to the attention of an appropriate member of Management.”

“Additionally, any employees, managers or supervisors who become aware of any possible unlawful harassment or other violation of this policy, whether they are personally affected or not, is directed to advise their superior, the human resources department or any senior member of administration.”

SCA Pharmaceuticals has filed a motion to compel arbitration in Plaintiff H. Dragon’s sexual harassment and retaliation case—and while the motion fails for several other reasons, this case is among the first to present an interesting legal question about the applicability of the Ending Forced Arbitration Act in sexual harassment cases. 

In its motion, SCA claims that Plaintiff Dragon signed an acknowledgement that he had received the company’s employee handbook, and that the handbook contained language requiring that employment disputes be arbitrated. Plaintiff opposed the motion, pointing out the obvious: the handbook and acknowledgement explicitly disclaimed creating contractual obligations “of any type”—meaning that by SCA’s own choice, no agreement to arbitrate could have been created. Plaintiff also pointed out that any agreement to arbitrate based on those documents would have been illusory, if it had actually existed, since the acknowledgement retains SCA’s authority to alter the policies in its handbook—including any purported arbitration agreement—unilaterally at any time. 

But even though these facts are enough to dispose of the motion, the motion also presented a separate and novel legal issue: does The Ending Forced Arbitration Act (“EFAA”) apply to a hostile work environment claim like this one, where the harassment started before the law came into effect, and continued after it was already effective?  

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Encompass Health runs a chain of rehabilitation hospitals across the United States. It is enjoying record revenues. However, Charges of Discrimination and Retaliation filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by nine current or former women employees of the Encompass Colorado Springs hospital threaten its success.

For revenue growth, Encompass depends on expansion and keeping its facilities at maximum capacity, which in turn depends on growing its referrals. Rehabilitation hospitals receive most of their referrals from discharge planners—social workers and case managers—at acute care hospitals or other health care facilities. Case Management and Social Work is a woman-dominated field. Encompass competes with other rehabilitation hospitals for referrals from these women. Encompass’s women employees rated it fifth among six major competitors according to a Comparably study done in 2022.

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A North Carolina woman alleges in Charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that AutoZone managers ignored her requests for help to stop a customer from repeatedly sexually harassing her—and then retaliated against her when she refused to keep serving her harasser.

As explained in her EEOC Charges of Discrimination, Jade Mack worked for AutoZone store 3909 in Concord, North Carolina. Her immediate supervisor was Store Manager Charlie Seabright, and her District Manager was Kevin Murphy. As stated in her EEOC Charges, on December 7, 2021, Ms. Mack alleges that regular AutoZone commercial customer Mr. W. J. [name withheld] walked toward her, forcing her to walk backwards to escape him, while saying “tell your man you’re in love with someone else.” Finding a wall behind her, Ms. Mack tried to sidestep W.J., and said “I don’t think he would like that very much.” The customer insisted, “he will get over it,” and repeated himself. Ms. Mack, increasingly panicked, told W.J. “I don’t think he would like that very much and I don’t like it either.” W.J. was close and directly in front of her. She was finally able to sidestep and escape him. Ms. Mack immediately texted Store Manager Seabright with a complaint and a full description of what had happened:

Mack: So W[.J.]just back me into a corner in the office saying tel [sic] your man your in love with someone else I kept trying to side step him & said I don’t think he would like that he said he will get over it but he was persistent and said it again so I said I don’t like it either fucking creepy I don’t ever want to be alone with him again where I have no exit to get out around him I don’t get creeped out or scared by much but that had me scared as shit & my adrenaline going now I feel like I’m gonna puke[.]

Hunter Dragon worked as a cleaner, and later an expeditor, at SCA in Windsor, Connecticut. Not long after Dragon started working at SCA, as alleged in his Amended Complaint , his coworker F.M. (who was not identified in the Complaint by name) asked Dragon, in front of several coworkers, whether he had a girlfriend. Dragon forthrightly told F.M. that he was gay. F.M. and his friends thereafter began a campaign of near-daily harassing “jokes,” gestures and comments directed at Dragon based on his sexual orientation—for instance, frequently asking Dragon how his girlfriend was doing, who he was having sex with, or who he would “chaga-chaga” with—while thrusting their hips or making other gestures referring to sex.

Even as he publicly mocked Dragon with his friends, F.M. sent Dragon messages coming on to him sexually—telling Dragon he was cute, and saying he wanted to “hook up.” The two did hook up—but afterward, F.M.’s behavior became menacing: he threatened to kill Dragon if he told anyone about their encounter. Dragon was terrified that F.M. would follow through on his threat.

The Complaint alleges that F.M’s harassment only intensified after these events. The very next day at work, F.M. asked Dragon if he was pregnant in front of several coworkers in the locker room where employees were required to gown up for their work. Over the following months, he repeatedly called Dragon homophobic slurs, including “fag,” “queer,” and “gay,” for example, “here comes the fag.” F.M. and his friends regularly asked Dragon if he was pregnant, and mocked his mannerisms by imitating him in an exaggerated, gay-stereotyped way. F.M.’s ongoing harassment of Dragon also became explicitly sexual—for instance, on more than one occasion F.M. rubbed his genitalia over his pants while staring at Dragon, including through a workstation window. He often stared at Dragon while Dragon was changing clothes in the locker room, even though F.M.’s own locker was on the other side of the locker room, away from Dragon’s. On one occasion, F.M. approached Dragon’s workstation and told him, “look down,” gesturing to his groin. Dragon couldn’t avoid seeing that F.M. was pointing to F.M.’s erect genitals in his pants. Dragon told him “no, please go away.” F.M. continued to tell Dragon to “look at it.”

Friedman & Houlding LLP  represents Weldon Moore an African American truck driver who worked at EXCEL USA in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Moore claims, among other things, that he was subjected to a retaliatory termination for filing the racial discrimination claims against EXCEL in federal court. Vice President of Operations over the Lake Charles division of EXCEL, Shaun Dunn, admitted in sworn testimony that days after EXCEL was served with the Summons and Complaint filed in court, he called Mr. Moore and advised, “don’t return to work until you hear back.”  

Mr. Moore did not hear back from EXCEL for a full month, and did so only after he filed an Amended Complaint in Court alleging retaliatory termination. Upon filing the Amended Complaint, Mr. Moore received a text message from Dunn stating that Mr. Moore would be suspended for three weeks. Dunn testified that he alone made the decision to suspend Mr. Moore for three weeks, and that the “main” cause for suspension was Mr. Moore’s use of Louisiana Pigment’s equipment without prior authorization, a claim that is not supported in the record. Indeed, Dunn admits that no one from Louisiana Pigment complained about or commenced investigation into Mr. Moore’s use of Louisiana Pigment’s equipment. Dunn testified that the reason for allowing a month to pass before notifying Mr. Moore of the suspension was that he sought Louisiana Pigment’s approval for Mr. Moore to return to the job site and spoke with Louisiana Pigment manager Chris Jennings for such approval. However, Chris Jennings testified that no such conversation took place. Former EXCEL Safety Manager Doug Stephson testified that he had never heard of an EXCEL employee being suspended—let alone, suspended for three weeks—for unauthorized use of Louisiana Pigment equipment. 

The testimony to date points to EXCEL’s pretext for its termination of Mr. Moore in retaliation for Mr. Moore’s protected activity of filing claims of racial discrimination against EXCEL. Deposition testimony from several witnesses, both former employees of EXCEL and other non-EXCEL employed witnesses corroborate Mr. Moore’s claims of regularly recurring racial harassment by Mr. Moore’s former supervisor at the Louisiana Pigment facility in Lake Charles, Jeff Addison. Addison resigned from EXCEL after Mr. Moore made several complaints to management and Human Resources concerning his racial harassment, but was never the subject of an investigation by EXCEL. Addison himself admitted in sworn testimony that the term “Black mother****er”—a term Mr. Moore was regularly subjected to while employed at EXCEL—was in use at the EXCEL project site at Louisiana Pigment, as were racist jokes. Witnesses testified that Addison regularly referred to Mr. Moore as “Black mother****er” at the job site. 

Friedman & Houlding LLP represent an account executive for iHeart Media in Harrisonburg, Virginia alleges he was subjected to racial harassment and stereotyping by his supervisor the Market President, followed by retaliation when he complained.

iHeart Media is a mass media corporation, and is the nation’s largest owner of radio stations, including several in the Harrisonburg area. Leon Bowen, an African-American man, worked at iHeart’s Harrisonburg location selling radio advertising to local businesses. Bowen was the only African-American staff member. Right away, Bowen noticed that iHeart’s local client base was almost entirely white, even though the local community was racially diverse. Bowen’s successful efforts to bring black-owned businesses on as clients appeared to anger his supervisor, the Market President. And Bowen saw that the office highlighted numerous holidays throughout the year, but did nothing to celebrate Juneteenth. During the Olympics, when staff members were given countries to represent, Bowen’s coworkers were all assigned “non-black” countries – while he was assigned Jamaica.

As reported in local media, during a team meeting video call, the Market President looked at Bowen, who was wearing a hoodie, and told him “oh, you look cozy.” There was no dress code for team meetings. By way of explaining his hoodie, Bowen simply responded that it was cold that day. In front of his coworkers, the Market President responded: “Well, I hope you’re not going to see clients like that.” Bowen told her he did not plan to. Following the call, she kept Bowen on the line, asking him if she was “sensing some attitude.” Bowen politely but firmly defended himself as a good employee. Bowen immediately reached out to the Area and Regional Presidents to report his supervisor’s mistreatment. In response, the Market President falsely claimed that Bowen had called her a “bitch”—employing stereotypes of black men as aggressive or angry. The Area President directed Bowen to work from home until after the holidays. Bowen complained again to an Employee Advisor for iHeart, who claimed the company would conduct an investigation.

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