Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Megachurch Dismissed “with Prejudice” — Lessons for Your Workplace Dilemma

If you’ve been sexually harassed, or if your employer committed a tip pool violation or other violation of the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you need to understand your rights.

Sometimes, it can be useful (not to mention cathartic) to look at other, similar cases in the news. Consider, for instance, a recent sexual harassment case out of Tennessee, which a judge dismissed “with prejudice.” What can we learn from what happened?

Megachurch Community Riven by Controversy
Plaintiffs in this case filed a multimillion dollar sexual harassment lawsuit against Mount Zion Baptist Megachurch. According to the Christian Post, four female members of the church “claimed that they had been sexually harassed and exploited during some counseling sessions held by the church.” One plaintiff, Valencia Batson, told a local television station that she had held off on contacting the police because she feared retribution for complaining. Batson et al.’s lawsuit against Mount Zion Baptist followed on the heels of a separate but similar action filed by Corey Corbin, another congregant, who dropped her lawsuit in November.

The judge ultimately dismissed the plaintiffs’ allegations “with prejudice,” meaning that the case against Bishop Walker and the other defendants cannot be heard again. The megachurch serves around 20,000 members, so this lawsuit was a huge deal in Tennessee. Bishop Walker expressed gratitude for the ruling: “…I’m relieved by the verdict after all the negative publicity.”

Lessons for You As You Contemplate Possible Legal Action
Obviously, it’s impossible to know precisely what happened in Tennessee: whether sexual harassment or other mistreatment did or did not take place, whether the judge made a proper ruling, etc. However, the story does highlight the “David vs. Goliath” aspect of employment litigation. When an employee challenges a higher-up – or an entire company! – that employee often feels intimidated, alone, powerless, and confused.

Even though laws exist to protect employees against wage and hour violations, harassment and retaliation, many workers are confused about their rights and unsure how to end harassment and seek redress strategically.

The team here at Joseph & Kirschenbaum, LLP is dedicated to helping employees understand and fight for their rights. We have succeeded in many complex sexual harassment and wage and hour cases in New York City and beyond. Get in touch with us for free, empathetic, and thorough consultation at (212) 688-5640 or www.jhllp.com.