Batali & Bastianich Agree to $600,000 Sexual Harassment Settlement

Following the New York State attorney general’s investigation, the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group was described as a company where widespread harassment and retaliation were commonplace. After sexual-harassment attorneys were consulted and those involved interviewed, a $600,000 settlement was reached.

New York State Attorney General Cites Multiple Violations of Human Rights Laws

An investigation of the business built by Mario Batali, a famous chef, and Joe Bastianich, his former partner, revealed that the Manhattan restaurants had a sexualized culture full of harassment and retaliation. Letitia James, New York State’s Attorney General, made the announcement on Friday and spoke of a settlement brokered by her office. The company’s name, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, was changed to Pasta Resources after Batali sold his shares back to the Bastianich family.

The company will pay $600,000 to previous employees who worked at Del Posto, Lupa, or Babbo restaurants, and approximately 20 men and women were named in the suit. Details of the harassment were brought out through interviews and discussed on social media. The two owners allegedly created a misogynistic atmosphere where female employees endured being groped and kissed against their will and were regularly exposed to sexual comments.

Attorney General James said that one manager told waitresses to make changes in their appearance, even suggesting breast implants, and male colleagues discussed physical features of their female co-workers and told women to “get on their knees.”

In a statement to The New York Times, Attorney General James iterated that it is vital for all women in the hospitality industry to understand that being abused, assaulted, or sexually harassed is not normal simply because they are women. Rather, such activities take place because the people in power allow it to happen.

Investigations Began As the #MeToo Movement Hit an All-Time High 

News about Mario Batali’s sexually aggressive behavior came to the forefront during the 2017 investigation, which was also when the #MeToo movement was reaching an all-time high. By the end of 2017, Batali had taken a step back from the establishments he owned with business partner Bastianich and was also fired from his job as co-host of “The Chew,” an ABC cooking-themed talk show.

mario batali sexual harassment

Mario Batali Bought Out by Business Partner   

Bastianich and his sister bought Batali out in 2019 by purchasing his shares in the two men’s jointly owned restaurants, thus ending the 20-year business partnership. At its peak, Batali & Bastianich owned over 24 food businesses and restaurants in the US, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Italy.

Although both men were named in the suit by sexual-harassment attorneys, Bastianich regularly minimized his personal role in the sexually charged atmosphere of the restaurants. Instead, he focused on publicity concerning Batali’s sexual misconduct. Bastianich made previous statements that indicated he was unaware of Batali’s sexually aggressive behavior, but witnessed him making inappropriate statements to employees. He said that although he occasionally criticized Batali, he “neglected his responsibilities” and “should have done more.”

No Action Taken After Reports of Sexual Harassment

Brianna Pintens, who was quickly promoted after being hired by the company, stated that the working atmosphere was rife with harassment, and female employees even made suggestions to each other on the best routes to use throughout the restaurant to avoid catcalls and inappropriate remarks from male employees. Pintens once reported harassment to a general manager, but was discouraged from filling out a report with human resources.

After having worked in the restaurant business for a long time, and having experienced similar scenarios in the past, Pintens stated that she was skeptical that any action would ever be taken. She expressed pleasure that there were finally consequences for those who harassed her and her co-workers.

New York Attorney General Letitia James encourages women to report sexual harassment immediately, and to seek legal advice as soon as possible, if they are being assaulted, harassed, or abused by employers or co-workers. Our employment attorneys in Orange County assist workers facing similar problems.

Activision Blizzard faces sexual harassment lawsuit from California state agency

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Focus of Lawsuit Against Activision Blizzard

A California state agency has sued Activision Blizzard for sexual harassment and discrimination. Blizzard is a maker of popular video games, such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Guitar Hero. It is not known at this time whether employees have retained sexual harassment attorneys on their own.

Blizzard Entertainment

Department of Fair Employment and Housing Files Lawsuit

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) claims that Activision Blizzard’s workplace is rife with harassment and discrimination. After an investigation lasting two years, the DFEH filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. The suit alleged that executives and other employees at Activision created a “frat boy” culture in the workplace. Claims made by the DFEH included sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior, unequal pay between male and female employees, less opportunity for advancement for women, male employees drinking while on the job and even openly telling jokes on horrific topics such as sexual assault.

“Cube Crawls” Allegedly Occurred at Activision Blizzard

The DFEH alleges that discrimination and constant sexual harassment were endured by many female employees. The agency described situations where women had to continuously defend themselves against unwanted sexual advances, comments, and were even subjected to “cube crawls,” which essentially consisted of male employees going from one cubicle to the next attempting to grope female employees and engage in verbal harassment. It is also alleged that this type of behavior took place at company events.

One Case of Suicide Potentially Tied to Harassment

The lawsuit also claims that a female employee’s suicide was, at least in part, the result of a sexual relationship she was having with her male supervisor. Prior to her suicide, colleagues were alleged to have shared explicit photos of her, presumably acquired from the man with whom she was having sexual relations.

DFEH Alleges Activision’s HR Department Failed to Address Complaints

Bloomberg Law reported the lawsuit previously and stated that the company’s human resources department and its executives failed to address complaints and allegations of sexual harassment. It is unclear how many complaints were filed with Activision’s HR.

Accusations Denied by Company

Activision Blizzard prepared a statement in which a company spokesperson said the DFEH’s description does not match the company’s current climate. The statement went on to say that employees have undergone anti-harassment training for many years and that a confidential hotline to report harassment was made available.

The company also claimed that the State of California did not appropriately discuss the accusations with them before suing and expressed its dismay at the agency for referencing the female employee’s suicide. A spokesperson for them also said that the DFEH’s behavior in the matter was irresponsible and claimed that many California businesses are leaving for other states after being targeted by state agencies. The DFEH declined to respond to Activision’s statement.

Lawsuit Demands Unpaid Wage Compensation and Punitive Damages

According to the DFEH, one of the goals of the lawsuit is to obtain compensation for female employees who were paid less than their male co-workers for the same job. This is an issue for which some people seek the advice of employment lawyers. In addition, punitive damages were requested for those who were allegedly harassed. The gaming company is based in Santa Monica, California, and employs approximately 10,000 people. Its net worth is estimated at $70 billion.

Discrimination and Harassment Accusations Common in Gaming Industry

Accusations of discrimination and sexual harassment are common in the gaming industry. Some believe this is because such companies are primarily run by white males. Employment attorneys in Orange County should be consulted by those who believe they are being discriminated against or sexually harassed.

 

James Franco Ends Sexual Harassment Lawsuit with a $2,235,000 Settlement

James Franco Ends Sexual Harassment Lawsuit with a $2,235,000 Settlement

A 2019 sexual-harassment lawsuit may be settled in the near future, according to court filings that were recently made public. Actor James Franco has reportedly signed off on a $2,235,000 settlement to end a lawsuit in which he was accused of coercing acting students into performing sexually explicit scenes on film. The settlement must be approved by a Los Angeles County judge.

James Franco

Franco Was Sued for Sexual Misconduct by Two Actors in 2019

Two actors sued James Franco and his acting and film school in October 2019. The two female students accused him of pressuring them and other students into performing exploitative and gratuitous sex scenes that went well beyond recognized standards on Hollywood film sets. The class-action suit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The two plaintiffs also alleged that Franco, along with his partners, took part in inappropriate sexual behavior toward female students and exploited them by using his power as a teacher. Job opportunities were allegedly dangled in front of the students, and the lawsuit accused both Franco and his business partner, Vince Jolivette, of urging students to do sexually explicit scenes with the understanding that they would be given the best roles in exchange for their participation. They further alleged that special treatment was given to students who willingly disrobed in the presence of Franco and his friends.

Students Stated They Were Victims of Fraud

The students were paying $300 a month to attend the acting school, which closed in 2017. Both women claimed they were essentially victims of fraud due to the alleged harassment. The lawsuit accuses Franco of attempting to create his own circle of young women that he could exploit sexually in the name of education.

Franco’s Attorneys Denied Claims

Franco’s sexual-harassment attorneys denied the claims listed in the lawsuit as legally baseless, false, and inflammatory. The attorneys stated that the plaintiffs were attention hungry and that their objective was to get maximum publicity.

Details were disclosed in the filing because the suit is a class action and therefore open to public review. The total amount paid, if approved by a Los Angeles judge, would be $2,235,000. Of the total amount, the plaintiffs would receive $894,000, with the remainder placed in a common fund for the other class-action lawsuit members. Tither-Kaplan would receive $670,500, and $223,500 would go to Gaal, less sexual-harassment attorneys’ fees from each woman.

The settlement would also result in Tither-Kaplan and Gaal dropping their claims without prejudice. Another part of the settlement would give other members of the class-action suit approximately two months to back out and pursue their cases further on their own. Any unclaimed funds from the lawsuit would go to the National Women’s Law Center.

James Franco

Franco Makes Joint Statement with Plaintiffs

Sexual-harassment attorneys in Orange County have learned that part of the agreement includes a joint statement by Franco and the plaintiffs, in which Franco could keep denying the allegations. However, Franco and his attorneys acknowledged that the women brought up important issues, and that the mistreatment of women in Hollywood is something that should be addressed. All parties agreed that it is essential to make sure no one in the entertainment industry faces any type of discrimination or harassment.

DOCTOR WHO Actor Accused of of Sexual Harassment on Set

The Guardian recently reported that the Noel Clarke saga is continuing at a rapid pace. Over 20 women have accused the British actor and screenwriter of bullying and sexual harassment dating back to 2004. Some of the most recent claims came from women who had worked on the set of the Doctor Who show from 2004 to 2019 and include sexual comments on the set, inappropriate touching, and bullying and aggressive behavior when his advances were not received well. Clarke played the role of Mickey Smith, a vehicle technician, in the series from 2005 to 2010.

Clarke Denies Allegations

Clarke has never changed his position.  In a letter released by his sexual-harassment attorney, Clarke continues to zealously refute all allegations of wrongdoing, including any type of bullying or aggressive behavior.  In a somewhat contradictory statement, he also said that he plans to seek professional help for his behavior.

Two weeks before Clarke was to receive a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (“BAFTA”) for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, multiple anonymous tips were received from the BBC from women alleging assault and sexual harassment in various ways, and in different professional settings. Since then, continuous allegations are being made, including statements made by crew members of the Doctor Who show who claim that Clarke has a history of this type of behavior.Noel Clarke

John Barrowman, Fellow Doctor Who Actor, Also Accused of Sexual Harassment

During all the drama, sexual-harassment attorneys have discovered that another cast member of the show, actor John Barrowman, was also accused of harassing coworkers on two separate occasions during productions. Several coworkers claim Barrowman exposed himself to them during production. The report on Barrowman characterizes the incidents as “inappropriate pranks,” as opposed to sexually aggressive behavior. Barrowman himself described them in a statement as “tomfoolery” and insisted that his actions were never meant to be seen as sexual in nature. He also said he had no knowledge of the allegations against Clarke.

After the first accusations were made last week against Clarke, a video surfaced that showed him exchanging jokes with Barrowman concerning inappropriate conduct in the workplace.

John Barrowman

BAFTA Had Prior Knowledge of Accusations

The original report established that BAFTA was aware of the sexual harassment allegations before they recently bestowed the award on Clarke. However, the organization said that they took no action because evidence was lacking and there was nothing to prompt their own investigation.

The BBC Responds

The BBC expressed their shock at the allegations and said that all of them will be investigated. They also encouraged any witnesses to speak to them concerning any type of inappropriate behavior they may have witnessed. The accusations against Clarke prompted 900 people to sign a letter demanding culture change in the workplace, and accusing the industry of turning a blind eye to harassers and predators who operate in plain view.

It is not yet known if the allegations against Clarke will be substantiated, or if any cases will go to trial. Anyone who has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace should contact an employment attorney in Orange County for professional advice.

 

 

As Sexual Harassment Allegations Surface at LSU, Les Miles and Kansas Part Company

Employment attorneys in Orange County have learned that Les Miles is no longer the Head Football Coach at the University of Kansas as he was terminated earlier this week. This move came after sexual harassment allegations were brought forth from his tenure as the Head Football Coach at LSU. Mr. Miles was initially put on administrative leave by Kansas, but the separation is now complete and permanent. The specific terms of his departure will be made public in the days to come. Jeff Long, University of Kansas Athletic Director, said that an outside firm was hired to assist the school in its immediate search for a new head coach. Mr. Long also said that he was very disappointed for the fans, the University, and everyone associated with the school’s football program. Long also mentioned their ultimate goal is continuing to win football games.

Les Miles

Photo Credit Sports Pulse – Jeff Wolken

Reports of Sexual Misconduct Allegedly Mishandled

Following a series of investigative reports from USA Today, a legal firm was hired by LSU to investigate the way the school and its athletic department allegedly mishandled sexual harassment accusations, as well as accusations of domestic abuse. That investigation uncovered multiple claims of harassment by female LSU students against Mr. Miles, which ended with a recommendation from then-LSU athletic director, Joe Alleva, to terminate Mr. Miles with cause. In spite of this recommendation, however, Mr. Miles retained his employment at LSU until he was let go following a 2-2 start in 2016. Mr. Long then hired Mr. Miles as the Head Football Coach at Kansas a few years later, but his former issues have once again caught up to him.

Multiple Sexual Harassment Accusations from Female LSU Students

One of the many incidents investigated was one that took place in 2013, when a female student alleged that Mr. Miles told her she was good looking and kissed her twice without her permission. The accusation was denied by Mr. Miles, but the report went on to say it appeared that he executed poor judgment by creating a situation in which a student employee was made to feel uncomfortable.

The report, created by the law firm Husch Blackwell, was released last week and stated that an employee of the athletic department referred to one student as “completely traumatized” after alleged contact with Mr. Miles. Following the conclusion of the 2013 investigation, LSU banned Mr. Miles from communicating with female students or being alone with them in any setting.

Photo Credit – USA Today- Jeff Biggerstaff

Mr. Miles Speaks of a Bright Future for Kansas Football

Mr. Miles described his termination as “difficult” for he and his family, and he said that he loved the school and the students in the football program. He expressed confidence that the football program is in a better place now than it was when he initially took the position. He encouraged student athletes at the school to earn their degrees and spoke of a bright future for them and for Kansas football.

Peter Ginsberg, Mr. Miles’s sexual harassment attorney, stated that he was “unfairly maligned.” With regard to the team, however, Kansas is in a difficult situation with spring football on the horizon, as the Jayhawks are now missing a Head Coach for the rest of March. Kansas said that a nationwide search for a new coach was launched on Monday, and, in the interim, Mike DeBord will serve as the acting head coach for the team.

 

New York Governor Accused of Sexual Abuse

Andrew Cuomo, New York Governor, has been accused of sexual harassment by a former aide, who has referred to him as “a textbook abuser.” Cuomo’s former Health Policy Advisor and Executive Assistant, Charlotte Bennett, told CBS Evening News that the governor tried to proposition her for sex last spring, during what she described as a very uncomfortable encounter. She stated that she remembered thinking she needed to get out of the room as soon as possible because the governor was “propositioning [ … her] for sex.”

Bennett claimed it was one of many incidents in which Cuomo, who is 63 years old, acted inappropriately. Cuomo is facing similar charges from two other women. The former Chief of Staff of the Economic Agency in New York, Lindsey Boylan, said the governor inappropriately touched and kissed her during a private meeting. Another accuser, Anna Ruch, who, unlike the other two women, did not work for Cuomo, stated that he put his hand on her bare lower back in 2019 at a friend’s wedding.

Andrew Cuomo

Photo by Andrew Kelly – Reuters

Bennett Calls the Governor “a Textbook Abuser”

Bennett described Cuomo as “a textbook abuser” who allows his temper and anger to run the workplace, although she said he was very sweet to her for approximately a year. Bennett contends Cuomo only acted this way in the hopes of becoming more than her friend. Bennett claims the governor constantly questioned her about her history as a survivor of sexual assault and repeatedly asked questions about her current love life. She said that she believes abusers look for previous traumas or other vulnerabilities in those they target, as those who have such a history may view a harasser’s behavior as acceptable.

Bennett’s Attorney Contradicts Cuomo’s Statements

In a statement to Law and Crime, Debra Katz, Bennett’s sexual harassment attorney, alleged that Cuomo’s press conference was full of lies and inaccurate information, particularly when he stated that he never meant to harm anyone and that he was embarrassed to discover that he made anyone uncomfortable.

Katz went on to say that Bennett reported the alleged harassment immediately to the governor’s chief of staff and chief counsel, and she believes further investigation will prove that both failed to act in Bennett’s best interests and that this was a violation of their legal duty. The governor maintains whatever happened was not intentional on his part and he was unaware he was acting inappropriately.

Lindsey Boylan, who was first to come forward with sexual harassment allegations, tweeted to the governor asking him how the people of New York could trust him if he was unaware that he was being inappropriate with his own staff. Boylan accused the governor of harassment during multiple incidents over the course of two years, which included the governor kissing her on the lips without her consent.

All claims of sexual harassment are being investigated by Letitia James, New York’s Attorney General. Those who believe they have been victims of harassment, or who have been falsely accused of such activity, should consult an employment attorney in Orange County for advice and guidance.

 

 

Sexual Harassment Claims Filed Against Former Orange County DA Supervisor

Orange County employment attorneys have learned that a former high-ranking supervisor at a District Attorney’s Office suddenly left his position in December 2020 after harassment charges were filed against him: Gary Logalbo allegedly made racist comments, and three female employees accused him of sexual harassment.

The three female prosecutors accused Logalbo of continuous harassment consisting of inappropriate comments and suggestions. They made these accusations and filed claims against Logalbo, current district attorney Todd Spitzer, and the county itself. Logalbo was recently promoted to a high-ranking position, and his duties included overseeing prosecution operations at various court houses in the county.

 

Gary Logolbo Orange County DA Supervisor

Photo by Eleanor Segura – Daily Titan

Allegations of Sexual Harassment Date Back to 2019

The internal complaints, which typically form the basis for harassment lawsuits, were filed in January anonymously, and the individuals are seeking damages for sexual harassment that they allege took place since 2019. One claimant said that when she leaned over to plug a cord into an electrical outlet, Logalbo took a picture of her buttocks with his cell phone, stating that he would save it for “later use.” He was also accused of making a racist remark that targeted a deputy public defender whose name was of Middle Eastern ethnicity. It was said that he referred to the man as a terrorist.

The three women alleging sexual harassment claim they delayed reporting the conduct because Logalbo appeared to have “best friend” status with Spitzer, who acknowledged the connection but claimed the two were not as close as suggested. Spitzer stated that he immediately took action as soon as he was aware of the allegations, and began an investigation. In an email to the Orange County Register, Spitzer referred to the specifics of the claims as “beyond disturbing” and “reprehensible.” However, he maintained that he had no knowledge of the allegations until the complaints were filed.

Logalbo Abruptly Resigns Shortly After Being Promoted

Logalbo was given the senior assistant district attorney position in September 2020, and his promotion became effective on November 13, 2020. Shortly thereafter, on December 11, 2020,  Logalbo abruptly resigned.

Some of the women accused Logalbo of doing things like knocking on the closed office doors of women and asking “are you naked?” Other allegations included him sneaking up on female subordinates and placing a cold soda can against their bare necks or backs. One woman alleged that Logalbo threatened to “spank” a female attorney, and told another he wanted to wear her panties like a hat on his head. Still another claimant accused Logalbo of attempting to adjust the back label of her sports bra that was presumably sticking out, as she prepared for a workout. She claimed that he tried it again later, but she ducked away.

Documents Filed by Attorneys in Orange County Claim Witnesses Were Involved

Attorney Matt Murphy, former homicide prosecutor and now a private attorney, filed the documents for the case. Murphy said the report stated that other high-level prosecutors were witnesses to certain episodes of harassment, but that they took no action to stop the conduct.

Spitzer told the Orange County Register that he took action as soon as the problem was brought to light and provided a timeline to the newspaper. Ultimately, Logalbo was placed on paid leave on December 11, 2020, but resigned the same day. The Register was unable to reach Logalbo for comment.

Orange County District AttorneyTodd Spitzer during a press conference about a burglary ring in Santa Ana, CA, on Monday, May 18, 2020. The law enforcement officials announced the takedown of a burglary ring that stole nearly $2 million worth of cash, jewelry and guns during dozens of residential break-ins in Orange and San Bernardino counties. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

District Attorney Todd Spitzer (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register)

Five Female Journalists Accuse Angels’ Pitching Coach of Sexual Harassment

Allegations of sexual harassment are once again dogging professionals in the world of sports. On Tuesday, multiple accusations of inappropriate behavior were made against Mickey Callaway, the former manager of the New York Mets. Callaway was expected to serve as the pitching coach for the Los Angeles Angels until his recent suspension.

Mickey Callaway AP Photo Greg Beacham

Mickey Callaway – AP Photo/Greg Beacham

Bombshell Report of Alleged Sexual Harassment

The Athletic published a story on Monday in which five female journalists accused Callaway of a broad range of inappropriate behavior, from continuous lewd text messages to sharing shirtless photos and requesting explicit photos back from the women he was texting. He reportedly also offered to share baseball related information if a woman “got drunk” with him. These incidents allegedly took place when he was manager of the New York Mets.

Callaway was suspended by the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, and Marie Garvey, spokesperson for the team, said they plan to work with Major League Baseball in an ongoing investigation. She stated that the reported behavior violates the values and policies of the Angels Organization. MLB stated that they never knew about any accusations against Callaway.

Callaway was formerly the pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians, and allegations of harassment and inappropriate behavior span his last three jobs, dating back to 2013. Following two seasons as Mets’ manager, the 45-year-old Callaway was hired as pitching coach for the Angels in October 2019.

An anonymous accuser told The Athletic that Callaway was constantly preying on women, and certain people described his behavior as an open secret within the game. Nevertheless, it appears that Callaway rarely had trouble finding desirable jobs in his field.

Alderson Appalled, But Callaway Maintains Innocence

According to Yahoo News, Sandy Alderson, Mets’ General Manager, stated that he was appalled when he first heard about the allegations and said he was not aware of this pattern of behavior, nor had he previously heard of any of the conduct described by the five journalists.

He stated that a review of their current hiring process is underway to make sure that a more comprehensive and thorough vetting of new employees is done in the future. Callaway, who may decide to seek the advice of an employment attorney in Orange County or elsewhere, stated that his conduct was not intended to be disrespectful, and that the relationships he was engaged in were consensual. The former pitching coach is married with children and stated that his wife had been made aware of the journalists’ accusations.

LA Angels response to Mike Callaway

Twitter Response from Los Angles Angels

Women Warned About Callaway’s Behavior

The five women did not say whether or not they had hired a sexual harassment attorney, but two of them indicated that they were warned in advance about Callaway’s behavior by people who worked in baseball, as well as by some of their colleagues in the media world.

Callaway was not the only Mets’ high ranking employee to find himself accused of sexual harassment in recent months.  As Yahoo News reported, Jared Porter was fired by the New York Mets on January 19 after the release of an ESPN report in which he was accused of aggressively harassing a foreign reporter with explicit photos and unwanted advances. He was fired only 37 days after being hired.

It remains to be seen if Callaway will be charged with any type of sexual harassment, or what the accusations will mean for his career in the future.

 

NY Mets GM Fired For Sexually Harassing Texts

After Confessing to Harassing Texts, Jared Porter is Fired as Mets GM

Employment attorneys in Orange County have learned that on Monday night, Jared Porter, the newly hired General Manager of the New York Mets, confessed to sending explicit, harassing texts to a female reporter in 2016. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Mina Kimes, who first broke the story, the incidents took place when Porter was the Director of Professional Scouting for the Chicago Cubs in 2016. Only hours after Porter admitted to sending the texts, Steve Cohen, the Mets’ new owner, fired him. The woman, who may have already sought the advice of sexual harassment attorneys, has communicated with ESPN on the basis of anonymity.

Jared Porter NY Mets

Photo by World News

Allegations of Multiple Inappropriate Text Messages and Pictures

The woman claims Porter sent in excess of 60 texts that she did not answer. She alleges these texts commenced with a lewd picture of a man’s erection. Forty-one-year-old Porter claimed that the explicit picture was not a selfie, but rather a stock image that was more or less meant as a joke. However, he had initially denied sending the female reporter any photos at all when he was first questioned by ESPN.

Porter Fired Tuesday Morning

The decision of the Mets to fire Porter was announced in a tweet early Tuesday morning. The Cubs and the Mets denied having any knowledge of the incident until Monday evening. A statement issued Tuesday morning by Mets’ president Sandy Alderson said that Porter’s conduct regarding the texts didn’t meet the Mets’ standards for personal conduct and professionalism.

Jared Porter Mets Response

First Meeting Leads to a Flurry of Sexual Texts

Porter met the woman in June 2016 in an elevator at Yankee Stadium, after she had moved to the U.S. to cover Major League Baseball as a foreign correspondent. The initial encounter is said to have been brief, although contact information was exchanged.  Later that afternoon, Porter allegedly began texting the woman and asked her three different times to have a drink with him that night. She reported to ESPN that she agreed because she believed Porter was volunteering himself as a source of information about baseball and did not think the meeting would be personal. Nevertheless, she eventually canceled drinks that night and asked if they could instead meet the following day.

Jared Porter Harassment Selfie ESPN

Photo by ESPN

Female Reporter Cuts off Communication After Receiving Sexual Texts

Porter continued to text her, asking if she was involved with anyone and sending her an unsolicited selfie which contained the text “Like?” The woman did not respond to the text. At one point, Porter asked the woman to send him a picture of herself in return. She said that because this is a common practice in her country, she felt obliged to send the selfie. Porter send her three additional pictures; one appeared to be a photo of his crotch with an obvious bulge indicating an erection. The woman claimed she then cut off communication with Porter after receiving these final texts.

Jared Porter InsideExpress

Photo by InsideExpress

Over the next several weeks, Porter reportedly sent multiple photos and approximately 62 unanswered texts to the woman. In one text, sent when they were both at Wrigley Field, he remarked about how beautiful she was. She claimed that the text made her panic and motivated her to hide from Porter.

Porter then texted her requesting that she meet him at a Los Angeles hotel. He allegedly sent her a series of texts the following day as well, including 17 photos, one of which was a nude, erect penis. According to ESPN, the woman eventually showed some of the messages and sexual photos to a player from her home country, who urged her to tell Porter to stop and assisted her with a written response. It is unclear if the woman is currently represented by sexual-harassment lawyers.

Mets President Response

Can sexual harassment exist of the perpetrator and the victim are not coworkers?

Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), which is often broader than federal law, harassers can consist of employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, apprenticeship training programs, any training programs leading to employment, or any person.  Victims of harassment can include employees, applicants, unpaid interns or volunteers, or persons providing services pursuant to a contract.  Organizations, such as the Mets, often have a zero-tolerance policy with respect to sexual harassment, in particular for leaders at the highest levels of the company.

If you believe you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, please call one of our employment attorneys at 949-629-2519, or fill out the form on the contact page.

Source Article: Yahoo! News

Retail Giant H&M Settles Class-Action Suit for $3.8 Million

Retail Giant H&M Settles Class-Action Suit for $3.8 Million

Retail giant H&M plans to pay a settlement of $3.8 million to refute allegations that off-the-clock work is not paid for by the company. The amount will be distributed to H&M employees who were allegedly affected by the establishment’s conduct regarding this matter. A portion of the money will also go to California Labor and Workforce Development Agency and toward employment attorneys’ fees. The settlement now awaits preliminary approval from United States District Judge Edward J. Davila.

H&M and the employees involved in the class-action lawsuit agreed to settle the dispute so that the costs and risks of continued litigation could be avoided. Workers involved in the lawsuit stated they believe the compensation offered in the settlement was fair.

Why the Plaintiffs Would Rather Settle Versus Litigate

Employees explained some of the reasoning behind their willingness to make the motion requesting approval of the settlement rather than continuing to litigate. For most workers involved in the suit, their hesitancy to continue litigating stemmed from concerns about the ultimate cost of trying the case, as well as the possibility, however slight, that they might lose.

For example, one of the complaints they feared might fail in court was their issue with the company’s policy requiring them to complete a security check when their shifts commenced. With regard to wage and hour violations, compensation for the security check could go either way during a trial. If this were the case, it would likely be due to the “de minimis rule” of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which prohibits employees from suing over minuscule amounts of unpaid time that are so short that it is viewed as unreasonable to expect compensation.  California law, however, is generally more liberal than the Fair Labor Standards Act, finding such time to be compensable in most instances.

How Settlement Funds Are Distributed

According to employment attorneys in Orange County, the terms of the H&M wage settlement state that the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency will be paid $75,000 of the $3.8 million, and $41,750 will go to administrative funds. Attorneys’ fees will be approximately $1.27 million, $250,000 is earmarked for legal costs, and workers will receive $15,000 each.

Class Certification Awarded Despite H&M’s Attempt to Prevent It

The class-action lawsuit brought forth by the retailer’s employees survived the company’s attempt to stop workers from gaining class certification. This failed for some claims, but the plaintiffs were ultimately granted class certification. Employees asked Judge Davila for certification of a group of H&M workers who have worked for the retailer since the fall of 2019 and are not exempt from overtime.

The Gray Area of Before-and-After Duties

Employees who perform shift work may encounter tasks before and after their designated start and end time, and some companies may attempt to circumvent payment for such duties. These include those listed in the class-action suit against H&M. Other examples include the time it takes for a person to change into a uniform. If it is essential to the principal activities of their employment, workers must be compensated for the time it takes to don the uniform, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”).

Not all jobs require one to perform duties prior to the start and following the end of a shift; however, federal law requires employees to be paid for many tasks that are outside their typical shift or duties, but nonetheless mandatory. For example, in certain industries, workers may have to attend meetings or participate in trainings. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay workers for lectures and training as well as additional activities, provided they are job-related and mandatory.  California employees may be able to receive compensation for such pre and post shift tasks even if the time is “de minimus” as California law follows a different standard than the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.  An employment attorney is the best person to speak to if a worker has questions about wage and hour violations or other work-related issues.

H&M Retail

Source Article: https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/employment-labor/hm-settles-wage-and-hour-class-action-for-3-8m

 

 

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