November 5th, 2011

Lessons for people bullied at work from the Cain harassment fiasco


Sexual harassment violates state and federal laws. Harassers pose a legal liability to employers. Therefore, employers will pay cash to bury the secrets.

1. Sexual harassment violates state and federal laws. Harassers pose a legal liability to employers. Therefore, employers will pay cash settlements to avoid court battles and to silence complainants. If you are bullied but there is an underlying gender or race or age difference, do not ignore it. Forget bullying and use the law that exists to compel the employer to pay attention.

1a. Bullying at work is status-blind harassment. It does not require that the recipient be a member of a group protected by anti-discrimination laws. It is more prevalent and often is experienced in addition to illegal harassment, but it is not yet illegal in any state in the U.S. Therefore, contrary to point #1, employers do not face the same risks of defeat in court, so rarely is a bullied target ever paid.

2. Harassment complainants are paid settlements and typically fired for having dared to complain. Before the separation, though, they almost always suffer retaliation for having the courage to complain.

2a. Bullied targets are fired, constructively discharged (made more miserable than a reasonable person should be expected to tolerate), and thrown out the door without getting a penny. Their post-complaint retaliation led to nothing positive for them.

3. Harassers typically keep their jobs or are promoted. They are allowed to deny their actions because settlement agreements always begin with a clause stating that there is no admission of guilt.

3a. Bullies, in all but 4% of cases, keep their jobs or are promoted. Like harassers, they abuse with impunity.

4. Sexually harassed workers who agree to take cash not only lose their jobs, but they are “gagged” by the terms of the agreement to never speak about their experiences again. This allows harassers to become serial harassers. With the benefit of silence, other unsuspecting employees have to endure the degradation because the employer has not made the harasser quit. The complaint to settlement cycle is repeated, costing the employer more money just to retain the a-hole harasser.

4a. In the rare event that a bullied person wins a severance agreement, she or he is typically gagged. However, by keeping your head during the emotional turmoil that swirls around the complaint-retaliation-settlement sequence of events, you can tweak the agreement terms. Agree to never divulge “the terms of the agreement.” But limit the gag clause to not saying that you received a paltry $35K or $45K as did the Cain complainants. Otherwise, you are free to tell the world how that employer back your bully-harasser and made your life hell.

5. Harassers lie to victims, to their bosses, to legal counsel, to counselors, to investigators, to arbitrators, when being deposed, when testifying in court, to judges, and to juries.

5a. Bullies do the same.

6. Harassment victims are not believed, even when they were paid settlements because the employer feared the legitimacy of their claim. Employers will always say that legal counsel made them pay simply because it is cheaper to settle than to take the battle to court. The truth is, employers can wear down any plaintiff who challenges them. They only pay settlements when they think they will lose.

6a. Bullied targets are viewed by the employer and alarmingly by the public as the “troublemakers.” Why? All they did was insist on dignified treatment at work. Not special treatment. To not be treated abusively.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, November 5th, 2011 at 4:14 pm and is filed under Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Tutorials About Bullying. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.



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  1. J. says:

    People who get settlement money usually are gagged. I seem to be the exception to the rule. I was bullied for years and sued my employer on a tangentially related cause of action. I received a settlement involving cash, income, and some minimal benefits. My ex-employer is gagged. I was not gagged by the settlement and I am free to say whatever I want. Weirdly, I think this is due primarily to my former employer’s arrogance – they don’t think I can say anything that will hurt them.

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