San Francisco, CA- Being in a powerful position can make some people think they can get away with just about anything, including subjecting women they work with grossly inappropriate sexual harassment. Today, yet another venture capital firm learned how costly it can be let big wigs treat their female subordinates like pieces of meat they can say anything to, however inappropriate.
Last year, three women, who worked as executive administrative assistants for San Francisco-based CMEA Capital, filed a lawsuit alleging the company’s chief operating partner John Haag subjected them to “pervasive and severe” sexual harassment, SFist reported.
Fortune reported that CMEA settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount and will avoid a trial where more salacious allegations could have emerged.
The 20-page lawsuit alleges Haag and other members of CMEA management made repeatedly told the women racist and sexist jokes. The behavior was so common, the lawsuit states, sex was “inappropriately injected” into the workplace, the Valleywag reported.
Haag was known for acting like a pervert and for the wholly offensive comments he made to women in the office. He often referred to one of the women as “Muffy”—a slang term for female genitalia. The woman asked him not use that phrase, but Haag was unfazed.
Haag when speaking of one of the firm’s female partners asked another male partner of he wanted that “sweet ass to sit on his” face. Once after one of the plaintiffs entered his office, he asked her to help them with something. When she rounded his desk and looked at him she noticed he was sitting in his chair with his groin thrust upward and blocked her access to the exit.
He asked women how they kept their pubic hair, groped them, and threatened to have them fired if they complained about the harassment. The company’s CFO often overheard Haag’s inappropriate comments but instead of correcting him, he just walked away, saying “I’m out of here,” the lawsuit states.
This list of Haag’s disgusting behavior goes on and unfortunately his employers chose to ignore, a move that ended up in an undoubtedly costly settlement.
Employers have to be given a chance to address harassment and discrimination, but sexual harassment attorneys often find that even when they are given that chance, they do nothing. They would rather ignore the problem or dismiss the employee’s allegations than punish the harasser.
Victims of sexual harassment can suffer physically and emotionally when they have to deal with sexual harassment on daily basis. The effects can be long term and employees are often forced to quit because they can no longer bear the way they are being treated. This behavior affects not just the victim, but the workplace as whole, often leading to low morale and high turnover rates.
It’s on everyone’s best interest for an employers to appropriately deal with sexual harassment. Not doing so gives their employees the right to retain a sexual harassment attorney and seek compensation for their distress.