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Stephanie Jane Hahn, Attorney At Law
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Former Disney executive reports harassment, retaliation

On Aug. 2, an ex-Disney executive filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that she was fired in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. The woman says that two female employees came to her reporting that a vice-president had made inappropriate comments to them. Allegedly, he commented on the woman's appearances and voices. Some Indiana employees may have experienced similar treatment in the workplace.

The suit says the executive sent the complaint up the management ladder until it reached the vice president's supervisor. That supervisor told the man to cease the behavior. However, the woman said the vice president confronted her two weeks later, yelling at her for reporting him and threatening her career. The suit alleges that these verbal and physical outbursts continued and that they discouraged other employees coming forward with similar reports. Disney conducted an internal investigation and found that while his behavior had been inappropriate, he did not break a law or violate company policy, and the man was given a warning.

However, the suit alleges he continued to isolate one of the women who reported the harassment as well as the executive who reported it. The woman who was harassed eventually quit while after a demotion and series of poor performance reviews, the executive was fired.

This case illustrates a number of the difficulties that may come up for people who report harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Even though a company may have a policy against harassment, it may not have the effect of protecting people from either that harassment or retaliation. Furthermore, people may hesitate to report harassment for fear of how it will affect their career. Finally, employers may try to claim a termination was for performance reasons and not retaliation.

Source: Variety, "Disney Channel Exec Says She Was Fired for Reporting Sexual Harassment," Gene Maddaus, Aug. 2, 2017

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