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Blockbuster must pay $2 million to settle harassment and retaliation claims

Video-rental chain Blockbuster recently agreed to pay more than $2 million to settle claims that it permitted sexual harassment and racial discrimination against female employees at one of its East Coast facilities. Although the incidents that led to this outcome occurred in Maryland, the principle at work here is equally true in Michigan; no one should be subjected to harassment in the workplace and employers who do not do enough to keep their workers safe and free from harm may have to pay for that mistake.

The suit was brought by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission over incidents that occurred in 2004 and 2005. Apparently, seven temporary female employees who worked at a distribution facility were asked for sexual favors and made the subject of racist remarks.

The case is interesting in that it resulted in a decision that holds that companies have an obligation to ensure that temporary workers are not mistreated at work, even if they are not directly employees of the company itself.

If you ever have any concerns about the way you are being treated in the workplace, you may want to first speak out it with your boss or with your employer's human resources department. If that does not solve the problem, you could consider meeting with an attorney. A lawyer who has experience in employment law can listen to the facts of your situation and may be able to give you pertinent advice based on what he or she knows of your unique circumstances.

Source: Workforce Magazine, "Blockbuster Settles Sex Harassment, Retaliation Suit for $2 Million," Dec. 16, 2011

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