Cartoons, texts, word games

Abusive cartoons, lewd word games scribbled on donor cards, and text messages were some of the ways Victoria Luke and Eliza Bradford were harassed at work at FireCo. They filed a lawsuit for sexual harassment against FireCo, and the human resource company contracted by FireCo, Century II Staffing USA Inc.

The co-workers who harassed them at FireCo, William Calvin and Mathew Chapman, have been named in the lawsuit which was filed by their sexual harassment attorney in Vermont Superior Court.

Victoria Luke said in a statement that she has never been more humiliated or degraded than during her tenure at FireCo which lasted for 13 months. Bradford was fired in 2012 after she complained repeatedly of sexual harassment, after which Luke was hired as a replacement. Both worked as administrative assistants at FireCo.

Luke and Bradford were not treated right

According to Luke, the Attorney General’s office investigated the allegations made by Bradford. Calvin allegedly coerced Luke to state that FireCo was a magnificent place to work for women and that sexual harassment did not happen in the office. Luke said that she did what she was told, since she wanted to impress her new boss, but the harassment began soon after the investigators left the office.

Fired in retaliation?

The lawsuit filed by Luke alleges that Calvin had approached her when they were alone and said that he enjoyed their alone time together. In response, she reiterated that she was fed up with the sexual harassment she was being put through, and hinted that a change in attitude was necessary. Following this, she was fired instantly by Calvin.

Bradford had worked for five years under a different manager who was professional, but things changed when Calvin took over, she said in the lawsuit. Bradford was pregnant when she was fired, and she alleged that the trauma caused a premature birth of her child, according to the lawsuit.

Luke and Bradford should be paid for their suffering, missed time at work, and a payment to catch up to where they should be if they remained with the company and were able to use this professional experience to seek a higher paying job within or outside of FireCo. Millions of dollars though is not rational.

Very few cases reported

Sexual harassment attorneys say that in surveys conducted by many organizations including CBS News/New York Times Poll, one in four women in the workplace experience sexual harassment in the country and when you hear of stories of Bill Clinton and Elliot Spitzer it is not hard to believe. Beth Mintz, a professor of sociology at the University of Vermont, said that the statistics are not any different in Vermont.

Many incidents, especially those that occur in college campuses and in the military go unreported, according to Mintz. Only a small number of cases are reported to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Mintz believes men get the wrong message through the media about sexual entitlement and that is the root cause of sexual harassment.

The prospect of going to court is a huge deterrent for many, and hence there are not many sexual harassment lawsuits, according to Joan Vogel, a professor at Vermont Law School in South Royalton. Vogel states that suing would mean reliving the trauma, besides, not getting a letter of recommendation would make it difficult to find another job.

Lopsided verdicts

In the recent past there have been a number of sexual harassment judgments in favor of employees. This includes multimillion dollar lawsuits filed by Carla Ingraham against UBS Financial Services Inc., and Ani Chopourian, who sued Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento. Ingraham received over $10 million from her boss but she will only see $500,000 because of a cap in place for this very purpose. She was treated wrongly but $10 million is not rational.

Chopourian will receive $168 million though. Yes, that is correct. This settlement is thought to be the largest sexual harassment settlement in history and it is amazing if the hospital will even be open for business after trying to find the money to pay this amount. America has soldiers fighting against terrorists who are making $20,000 per year but if you are mistreated at work, it is akin to hitting the lottery.