Partner Bob Gingras and attorney Scott Thompson of Gingras, Thomsen and Wachs Lawyers settled a lawsuit in the Western District of Wisconsin on behalf of our client for $167,000.
Our client alleged in her complaint that her employer violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by retaliating against her for reporting sexual harassment. The facts of the case resonate with the #MeToo movement.
Our client was fired after she reported a coworker for sending her an unsolicited picture of his penis.
Our client first began working for her employer in March of 2012. Throughout her tenure, she maintained a glowing employee record and received regular performance-based raises and bonuses.
The trouble began in September of 2017 when a coworker began sending her inappropriate text messages. Our client reported these text messages to management, yet the employer never disciplined the coworker for this behavior.
In May 2018, the same coworker texted our client a string of photos documenting damage of a vehicle at work. In the middle of these pictures, the coworker inserted a picture of his penis.
Our client was disgusted and deeply violated by this behavior. So, she did what company policy instructed her to do — she reported it to her supervisor. Regardless of the policy, her supervisor laughed her off.
As a result, our client was very upset and reported the sexual harassment up the chain of command to a company executive, the former Vice President of Safety. In an email, the executive stated that this created “a hostile work environment.”
Regardless, the onus of handling this harassment fell to its victim, our client. The company left her the responsibility of interviewing her harasser. She met with the executive and the man who had sent her a picture of his penis. The company instructed our client to record the conversation.
To our client’s credit, she did as she was instructed. She stood up for herself and confronted the coworker about how harmful and inappropriate his behavior was. She recorded the entire conversation.
Our client delivered the recording of the conversation to the company’s then Vice President of Human Resources. Later that day, the same vice president told our client that she needed to attend a meeting to “wrap up the situation.” However, at the outset of the meeting the employer terminated our client’s employment.
Although our client was terminated, the coworker faced little to no repercussions from the employer. He was not disciplined, and the employer made no mention of the sexual harassment on his annual performance evaluation. In fact, he remained on staff, even transporting children to school on occasion.
While devastated by the employer’s retaliatory behavior, our client never backed down. She filed her lawsuit on November 8, 2019 and refused to settle until the eve of trial.
“Our client is a hero. She faced a deeply unsettling workplace situation and responded with grace and strength,” said Scott Thompson. “She stood up for herself, she stood up for what was right, and it paid off. Working with her inspired me, and I hope her story will inspire others to stand up for themselves in the future.”
The Gingras, Thomsen and Wachs team stood with their client as she fought for justice in the court system.