Author: Beth P. Zoller, XpertHR Legal Editor
Recent EEOC settlements demonstrate that when faced with egregious sexual harassment allegations, many employers would rather settle than face bad press, a prolonged trial and uncertain outcomes. Instead, in order to make particularly "bad" claims "go away" employers agree to pay substantial sums of money and agree to take affirmative steps to eliminate harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
For example, the EEOC recently settled a number of lawsuits against high profile employers such as the International House of Pancakes (IHOP), JW Marriot Hotels and Dairy Queen who all agreed to costly settlements to resolve allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. The employers also agreed to implement and maintain stronger policies against sexual harassment and provide training on discrimination and harassment to all supervisors and employees. In some cases, the employers were even required to notify all employees of the settlement and report all internal complaints of harassment and discrimination directly to the EEOC.
In light of the fact that settlement of sexual harassment cases can be quite costly for employers, employers should be proactive and establish workplace policies and practices aimed at preventing such lawsuits in the first place.