Workplace Bullying Costs Employer
The harassment included tying the employee with masking tape, putting gel in his hair, littering his work area with pornographic pictures and wrapping his legs with plastic with a meat-wrapping machine…
The lawsuit was resolved by a consent decree signed by Judge Laura Taylor Swain on June 16, 2008 in New York. In addition to paying the victim $70,000, London Manhattan must also take substantial steps to prevent future workplace harassment. The company is required to: post and maintain EEOC remedial notices and posters; provide training to all employees regarding federal laws prohibiting discrimination; and adopt and maintain an antidiscrimination policy and complaint procedure. London Manhattan is also enjoined from discriminating against any individual on the basis of his or her disability and from retaliating against anyone who participated in the EEOC's investigation or litigation of this case.
"Employees with a disability have a legal right to work in an environment that is free from harassment and abuse," said EEOC New York District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
Although the United States' antidiscrimination laws often do not go far enough in protecting autistic workers from employment discrimination, workplace bullying is one situation where there's a reasonable chance of an employer being held liable for failing to prevent the harassment. With a few more lawsuits like this, maybe employers will start getting the message that tormenting the "nerd" isn't funny or a game—rather, it's illegal discrimination and can result in legal liability and negative press coverage for the company.
Here's a big YAY to the EEOC for recognizing that workplace bullying is a serious problem and for kicking some prejudiced employer butt!