Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sexually Harassed at Work - What Should You Do?

Your supervisor won’t keep his hands off you.  He massages your neck when you are seated at your desk. He rubs against you as he passes you in the hallway.  He tells you how bad his marriage is and how someone like you would be so much better. Or, he makes lewd suggestions, such as, “Why don’t you come here and sit on my face?”  He might even grind his pelvis into your backside or grab your breast.

This job is important to you. You have rent, a car payment and mouths to feed. You think, “Maybe if I ignore him or give him a dirty look, he will stop,”  But you know, in reality, the sexual innuendos and/or touching are getting worse, not stopping.

He’s not going to stop on his own. What are you going to do?  Are you going to just take it, and feel horrible about yourself?  Are you going to ask to move to a different supervisor or department, while worrying about the next women under his clutches?  Should you quit and quietly go away? Or, should you go to his boss or Human Resources and report him, while realizing he may retaliate against you or the boss may not believe you.

You have a dilemma and there are no guarantees that if you report, the workplace will be fixed.  I know how hard it is to report a harasser. I know it’s even harder to either file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or Missouri Commission on Human Rights, or even harder to seek legal counsel. There is no easy solution.

It takes courage to fight sexual harassment. Your work environment will probably change.  You may suffer retaliation, even though retaliation is unlawful. But don’t you have daughters, or nieces, or know little girls? Isn’t it painful to imagine those girls having to endure what you experience.

Fighting sexual harassment is the courageous way to go, for you and for other women. Most sexual harassers are serial harassers; you are not the first, and unless they are stopped, you won’t be the last. We are one day past the Women’s March in 2018. We hear about the “Me, Too” movement. Yet, nothing changes unless brave women come forward and stand up for themselves.  You can make a difference. Don’t just take it. You deserve so much more. You deserve self-respect.  You can make a difference.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

We’re Back!!! New Offices and Phones Are Back!

We moved our offices, Bratcher Gockel Law, LC, to 4014B S Lynn Ct, Independence, MO.  64055. OUR PHONES WERE DOWN DURING THE MOVE, BUT THEY ARE BACK UP, SAME NUMBER, 816-221-1614. Email me at lynne@bgklawyers.com.  We handle all forms of discrimination cases, civil rights matters, and personal injury cases.  

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Sexual Harassment Epidemic

I have written about sexual harassment many times.  Sexual harassment is in the forefront again, after women harassed by famous men have finally come forward. I want to look at this problem from a different perspective. What are the characteristics of a harasser?  Admittedly, I am no psychological expert, but as a discrimination lawyer, this is what I have observed:

1.  Harassers need to feel powerful because they are insecure, cowardly people;

2.  Harassers do not like women, in fact they may hate women;

3.  Harassers can rationalize their behavior, blaming the victim or claiming the conduct was mutual;

4.  Harassers are bullies, who pick on women whom they think are vulnerable and won’t blow the whistle on them.

Oftentimes, women, who are most likely to suffer from sexual harassment, suffer in silence, afraid of repercussions, real or imagined. It is hard for any victim of any discrimination to come forward. The victims do not realize that there are probably many others who have suffered because of this person. They think they are alone and feel vulnerable. The victims do not want to be blamed, do not want to be disbelieved, and fear being ostracized or even fired. So, sexual harassment can go on for years because the victims feel isolated and too afraid to come forward.

It’s good that some actresses finally came forward about Harvey Weinstein. It’s sad that it took them decades to do so. Hopefully, the actresses’ courage will embolden other women.  People do the right thing, if you make them.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

What’s The Matter With Gray Hair?


My hair is a shiny white/silver color, much more white than brown.  The color is beautiful, even if I sound less than humble. The only problem is that gray hair adorns older crowns and is synonymous with old age.  We don’t like older people, or at least how older people look. What’s wrong with being old?

I do not feel old at 65.  While I am not at spry as in my youth, I am more content, more confident and less conflicted. I enjoy my work, my family and my life. I appreciate beauty. I appreciate art and nature. While I have less memory for proper names, my ability to reason seems intact. And, I have lots of experiences about which I have learned many lessons.

While I get that youth provides possibilities, I do not understand why we knock aging. Hopefully, as we age, we get wiser and more centered.  Losing one’s faculties seems horrific, but hopefully that may not happen, or if it does, it’s years away.

I think it’s ludicrous that we have to protect employees over 40 from age discrimination. Being 40 is like being 15, with a great many possibilities. We stereotype older people as being set in their ways, narrow-minder and averse to technology. While stereotypes may occasionally be accurate, oftentimes they are not.

In any event, I love my shiny whitish/silvery hair. The wrinkles are fine, too.

Monday, December 4, 2017

How This Messed Up World Creates Business For Discrimination Lawyers

Since November last year, I have noticed an increase in racial discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment, and other discrimination cases.  It makes me sad.  Every day some famous man is fired for engaging in years of sexually harassing os sexually abusive conduct.

I believe that most people are kind, compassionate and giving.  But those other ones, the minority of folks who are insecure, inhumane, and petty, are sure more visible right now.  Most men do not treat women in the vile ways of Matt Lauer, Louis CK, Harvey Weinstein and the like.  But, there are enough people who abuse power, who are evil, who denigrate others, that we have a serious societal dilemma.

I know we, collectively, are better than this.  I hope so, anyway.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

[Editor’s note] Yes, Lynne has an editor, now. She’s been occupied, fighting for truth, justice and fairness. She’s back now. Watch this space for an update on the continuing struggle.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Justice Because of the Uncommon Courage of Regular People

I came across some news items that make me think of the role of employment discrimination cases in our society. Companies, like all people, tend to look out for their best self interest, be it personal, financial, or simply business. Discrimination verdicts can cause employers to change their attitudes of what makes a valid business decision.

There was a case against a large chain of restaurants whose management turned a blind eye to vile sexual harassment, eventually leading to a large plaintiff's verdict. Post-judgment, that company now recruits employees, while advertising its generous benefits and safe working conditions. 

There was another company that retaliated against its employees for blowing the whistle on unlawful discrimination. Now that company is touted as “spoiling” its employees with generous perks and fair work conditions.

There was another major company, one of the largest in the world, whose managers at one time told disabled applicants,  “We don't hire people like you.” Now that company is regarded around the world as a leader in workplace fairness and accommodations for the disabled. 

None of these companies would have changed their practices were it not for costly discrimination verdicts and settlements.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” In reality, the force that brings about justice is a civil one, brought about by conscious action of the brave employees willing to stand up for their rights.

Which leads me to another of my favorite quotes, “People do the right thing if you make them."  I am thankful for my clients, who, with uncommon courage, in some small but important way, have helped to bend the arc of history toward justice.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

You neo-nazis and white supremacists are evil.

I have been representing African-Americans and others in protected class against discriminatory employers for many years, and what is going on now with our fake president is unprecedented. "There are good people marching with the neo-nazis and kkk?" Really? Not in my book. I guess those "good" people did not consider annihilation of Jews and subjugation, lynching and raping African-Americans as evil acts.  "White supremacist" boys will be "white supremacist" boys, right?  And those  confederate "rebels" who wanted to perpetrate slaverym with its concomitant violence, rape, and cruelty, well, they weren't really traitorous monsters, were they?  You neo-nazis and white supremacists are evil.

Our fake president lives in a world I cannot fathom.  He has no moral core.  He is infantile, narcissistic and insecure.  He has emboldened the worst in our midst, many of whom are trolls on the internet and may troll my blog.  They are the cowards among us, too afraid to lend their names to their racist, anti-Semitic and sexists troll posts.  You neo-nazis and white supremacists are evil.

As I have written before, I have seen an uptick in racial harassment claims since our fake president was elected.  I guess I may benefit financially from all of the hatred, since this outrageous conduct is more apparent and easier to prove in court.  However, I would rather the world be filled with caring and compassion rather than hatred and bigotry. You neo-nazis and white supremacists are evil.

All of you neo-nazis, white supremacists and internet trolls, some of whom will be responding on either my blog or Tony's, I have a few questions for you.  What made you be so afraid and hate-filled?  Did your mother not love you enough?  Are you so insecure that you fear people who you deem are different than you?  Are you simply a sociopath, caring only about yourself with the inability to feel empathy?  Why are you so despicable?  You neo-nazis and white supremacists are evil.

We must be intolerant of hatred and bigotry.  Look what happened in Germany, and in this country before the Civil War.  Sometimes there really is good vs evil, and you neo-nazis, white supremacists and kkk'ers are evil.You neo-nazis and white supremacists are evil.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The NAACP's Travel Advisory - Discrimination in Missouri

Much has happened in the last year that directly affects Missouri’s African-Americans, women, the disabled, religious minorities and older people.  Donald Trump was elected and then Missouri passed and Governor Greitens signed a draconian bill rolling back hard-fought civil rights.  

Since the presidential election, there was an uptick in racist rants on social media and in the public.  For some people, it seems to be okay to publicly show their vilest racist side, and they seem to be emboldened by the Trump presidency.  I see the increased overt racism daily in the calls my office gets from prospective new clients.  Up until recently, white people’s use of the “n” word was rare, the word had become anathema to civilized society.  But now, I have several race discrimination cases where the ‘n’ world is hurled at African-Americans with abandon.  My docket of race discrimination cases has markedly increased since the election, as well as harassment against gays and Lesbians.

But, it is not only the election of  President Trump, an admitted sexual assailant, that coincides with increased harassment cases.  This past legislative session, Governor Greitens signed SB 43 which rolls back protections for minorities and women in Missouri.  Missouri is the first and only state to go backwards in civil rights.  The new bill prohibits holding individuals accountable for racist, sexist, ageist actions.  The NAACP has issued a travel warning for Missouri as a consequence of the bill’s passage.  It’s a sad state in our nation where we stop protecting people from discrimination and harassment.

Before the change in the law, discrimination had to be a “contributing factor” for an adverse action to be compensable.  The Missouri Legislature recently changed the contributing factor standard to requiring that unlawful discrimination be “the motivating factor,” which increases the burden on those harassed to prove liability.  That, coupled with the elimination of individual liability, makes a race or sex or age discrimination case enormously more difficult to bring.  The change in the law is akin to arguments about whether a well is poisoned.  If a little bit of poison is mixed in a well full of water, it is undrinkable.  The well need not be filled with a 100% solution of poison for it to be tainted.  The law gives license to employers to fabricate non-discriminatory reasons for their actions.  A portion of racist or sexist behavior is now acceptable, although is anathema to this nation’s historic goal of equality.

As you might imagine, discrimination laws with less enforcement capabilities give a green light to those who want to overtly discriminate based on race, sex, or age.  The sexual harassment cases I have taken has also increased.  While individuals who are discriminated against have far less protection, they are still flocking to seek counsel.

With the election of Trump and the passage of SB 43, my caseload is growing.  I guess, even though it is against my personal financial interest, I would prefer to be out of business because racism, sexism and ageism become a thing of the past.  It looks like I will have work to do for many, many years to come.