Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) March 5, 2013 – When sexual harassment cases are settled out of court, the defendant must still pay up.
“This case was filed by a group of women who worked at Chicago’s Leona’s Pizzeria. Their complaint to the EEOC, filed in 2008, alleged there was a hostile work environment and sexual harassment. When the EEOC was done investigating, they found reason to believe that there was indeed workplace harassment. They worked with Leona’s to come to a settlement, rather than proceed to court,” said Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace.
Settling out of court is often a smart legal tactic, as taking a case to trial end up with the defendant paying more than what would be paid out under the terms of a negotiated settlement. The settlement the EEOC and Leona’s arrived at was for $75,000, an agreement to put anti-harassment training into effect, post a notice of the settlement, re-write its nondiscrimination policy, and also report any and all compliance efforts. Nothing happened.
The agreement, which was specifically designed to avoid a federal lawsuit, stipulated that the lead plaintiff was to receive $40,000, and the other three women, $35,000 each. The pizza chain has not complied with the settlement, in any aspect of the agreement, and the EEOC has now filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, to compel them to live up to their settlement agreement.
“The important thing to take away from this case is two-fold. The first being that just because the settlement was reached out of court, does not mean it may be ignored. It carries the same weight as a court judgment, and it must be carried out. It is the law. The second point is that unless the pizza company has an extremely good reason for ‘not’ abiding by the agreement, they will end up paying additional court costs and attorney’s fees. That amount combined will no doubt be more than the settlement figure of $75,000,” added Coffey.
Not all harassment cases are resolved quickly, as this case demonstrates. However, with the assistance of an experienced employment lawyer, the results will deliver fair and reasonable justice. “If you are in a situation like this one,” noted Coffey, “contact my office. I can explain your rights and options.”
Timothy Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to contact a Chicago employment attorney, visit http://www.employmentlawcounsel.com
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