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Attorney comments leads to overturned sexual harassment decision

Employers are required by law to provide a safe working environment for all employees. This includes an environment free of discrimination, harassment or other related problems. Florida companies work hard to uphold these laws and offer good conditions to workers. When an employee complains about a problem in a job situation or initiates a business dispute, it is important to remember that a claim is simply than and may not be an accurate reflection of all facts.

A case in which a woman filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against her employer, a bank in Sioux City, Iowa, took six days of trial before an initial decision was reached. In a news report on the story, even the defense attorney commented that the case was hard fought. While the original jury decision, made in a district court, was in favor of the employee, the ruling has since been overturned by a higher court.

The reversal was made due to inappropriate comments from the defense attorney during the trial’s closing arguments. In telling a story from her own life, the attorney is said to have sought additional sympathy for her client, affecting the end ruling and award. Employment litigation defense attorneys did object to the statement but the original judge allowed it. Three judges from a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals believed it should not have been allowed and have adjusted the ruling.

Companies must continually guard themselves against unwarranted employer liability claims or against improper processes. Any employer who faces a wrongful discharge, ADA, sexual harassment or other accusation may wish to consult with an employment law attorney to understand the best options.

Source: The Des Moines Register, “Sexual harassment ruling is reversed,” Grant Rodgers, April 7, 2014

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