Two (Very) Different Stories of Harassment: One Crucial Takeaway

Have you suffered harassment or discrimination at your workplace?

If so, by examining two recent stories in the news, you might come to a deeper understanding about what you can do to get the bad behavior to stop… and possibly to get compensated for your lost wages, emotional turmoil, and other struggles.

Recently, a company called Yellow RC Worldwide Inc. settled a prominent racial harassment and discrimination suit for $11 million. The case concerned African-American employees at an Illinois facility, who allegedly had been operating in a “racially hostile working environment” that included discriminatory terms of employment. The freight hauling company settled a similar suit with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) back in 2010. That suit, which considered a different Yellow Transportation owned facility, settled for $10 million.

The settlement money will be distributed among 324 African-American employees, who worked for Yellow from 2004 to 2009. The company is in the process of fending off bankruptcy. It’s heavily indebted; and its stock fell by 30% in 2012, despite good-looking first quarter numbers.

This discrimination case concerned 324 employees, a lot of money, and a major, publicly-traded company. Yet it’s gotten very little “media oxygen.”

Contrast that story with another case of harassment that has practically set the blogosphere on fire. This second situation concerns the sad and frankly scary case of Karen Klein, an elderly bus monitor, who was videotaped being harassed mercilessly by four boys.

A YouTube video of Klein’s harassment racked up over 1.5 million hits within a short period of time due to the outrageous nature of the bullying. The Greece, NY Central School District has since imposed harsh penalties on the boys – suspending them from school for a full year and compelling them to engage in 50 hours of community service. Ms. Klein declined to press criminal charges, but she expressed satisfaction that the boys had been strongly reprimanded.

In Ms. Klein’s case, only one person was subject to harassment, but the harassment was emotional, and you could see it in “real-time” via YouTube.

Contrast the outpouring of fury over Ms. Klein’s bullying with the bloodless coverage of the Yellow Transportation harassment story: it’s a stark contrast, indeed.

The crucial takeaway
How a case of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or wage and hour violation gets presented to people will probably affect the way they react to it.

What this means for you, if you or someone you care about has faced similar harassment or discrimination at work, is that the way you build and frame your case is crucial and may affect its outcome and chance at satisfying closure. To that end, you want to find a law firm that has a track record of success and experience dealing with your kind of dilemma. Please peruse the resources we have here at www.jhllp.com, or call our team at (212) 688-5640 for a free consultation.