The situation escalated when the woman started complaining about illegal activities at the dealership and her colleagues retaliated by excluding her from important meetings.
Sexual harassment is strictly prohibited in Michigan under both state and federal laws. Local employers are required to provide training on sex-based discrimination and yet such cases continue to happen. In December 2021, a former female employee at the Subaru dealership in Ann Arbor filed a lawsuit against her employer claiming she was sexually harassed during the time she worked there. If you are in a similar situation, you should schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable sexual harassment lawyer in Ann Arbor to understand what your rights are and if your case fits the definition of sexual harassment.
How is sexual harassment defined in Ann Arbor?
Under Michigan laws, there are two types of sexual harassment. When a supervisor or manager asks for sexual favors that is called a quid pro quo case.
When the employee is harassed by one or more coworkers that is called a hostile work environment case. This is exactly what happened to the Subaru employee. According to court documents, when she started working there in early 2020, all her colleagues were male and they would often make sexually-explicit comments about her as well as about female customers entering the dealership. She recalled being asked whether her boobs were real and overhearing her colleagues talking about how they would have sex with the customers they found attractive.
These types of comments amount to verbal harassment and the fact that such behavior was the norm at the dealership is a clear case of a hostile work environment. The situation escalated when the woman started complaining about illegal activities at the dealership and her colleagues retaliated by excluding her from important meetings. She was forced to resign in October 2021.
What is the procedure for filing a sexual harassment complaint?
According to the law, an employee must file an internal complaint first, notifying the employer about the sexual harassment she or her was subjected to. The employer is required to investigate the complaint and take appropriate measures to remedy the situation. The victim can be represented by a sexual harassment lawyer at this stage. The employer is not allowed to retaliate against the person making a complaint or against others who support their claims.
Sadly, in many cases the employer does not take any action to remedy the situation. The employee has the right to file a sexual harassment claim with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
If you’re planning to do that, seek advice from an experienced Michigan sexual harassment lawyer so that your complaint is formulated in strong legal terms.
Either of the two agencies will investigate the claims. The victim needs to bring proof of the harassment she was subjected to. A good lawyer can help you collect the evidence you need. If there are colleagues willing to support your claims, their testimony will be heard by the investigating agency.
The agency will try to negotiate a settlement between the two parties and your lawyer will advise you on the types of damages you are entitled to. If an agreement cannot be reached, the agency will either file a lawsuit on your behalf or issue a ‘right to sue’ notice allowing you to take the matter to court. You can recover damages for lost earnings if you were fired or forced to quit, like the woman in the Subaru case. Also, you can seek damages for your emotional distress and mental suffering.