According to multiple news reports, a female employee in Port Saint Lucie lodged a complaint with her employer’s Human Resources (HR) Department. She alleged her male supervisor was demonstrating favoritism towards a male in the same position. The female employee also reported poor treatment towards female staff by men in the office.
The HR Director launched an investigation into the allegations and interviewed multiple witnesses. The investigation revealed that the male manager violated the employer’s policy when he listed “attractive” among job requirements for applicants!
How sexist job requirements cost Port St. Lucie employer big bucks.
The male manager was dismissive towards the accusation that the “attractive” requirement was inappropriate. He characterized it as a “mistake.” His explanation basically was that he developed the list of qualities years ago and never updated it, and claimed that “attractiveness had nothing to do with any of the hires.”
The HR investigation revealed multiple instances of when females felt they were not being treated fairly. One example included a male employee being given a regular work schedule, with consistent lunch breaks, while female workers said they were expected to be flexible and at times, work through lunch.
The investigation also revealed that women complained about a male using terms of endearment towards the female co-workers, specifically calling them “sweetheart” even after they asked him not to.
Essentially this HR investigative report showed that staff members were concerned the women in the office were being held to different standards than the men.
One example listed in the report mentioned a male employee being given a regular schedule with consistent breaks, while women were expected to sometimes work through their breaks.
During the HR investigation, most employees interviewed said that they brought their issues to the male manager but none ever got addressed.
In the wake of this bombshell investigative report, the Port St. Lucie employer convinced the manager to resign. The Employer (City of Port St. Lucie) agreed to a negotiated severance package for the manager (who was actually the City Attorney, Reggie Osenton). The golden parachute that is contemplated for the manager appears to include a whopping 20 weeks of severance pay, which is $76,584; a 10.5 percent contribution to his retirement account; and his unused vacation days. In addition to this financial cost to the employer, the employer also had to hire an interim replacement, at a cost of $200,000 plus a 10.5 percent contribution to his retirement account.
Also, the HR Director recommended that the entire department attend harassment and discrimination training to help them understand what constitutes harassment and a hostile work environment.
As we reported earlier, Florida employers are reminded that recently the EEOC began a new type of sex harassment training that focuses on bystander intervention training.
If you own a Florida business or if you are in a human resources position in Florida and you have questions about harassment complaints or updating your harassment policy, you can email the Law Office of David Miklas, P.A. to arrange for a consultation or you can call us at 1-772-465-5111.
You can read more of our employment law articles on our legal updates page.
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