Worker Claims Supervisor Fabricated Evidence To Get Him Fired For Rejecting His Sexual Advances
Having litigated sexual harassment cases for more than two decades, our sexual harassment lawyers in Citrus County know that sexual harassment victims are often targeted for termination after rejecting the sexual advances of a sexual harasser with supervisory authority. In most cases, sexual harassers with supervisory authority target their victims for termination through disciplinary action, negative performance evaluations, and performance improvement plans. In other words, sexual harassers with supervisory authority create a paper trail as a pretexual cover for their retaliatory animus. In some cases, however, sexual harassers with supervisory authority target their victims for termination through false allegations of misconduct. The false allegations of misconduct are then relied upon by upper management to terminate sexual harassment victims. In this article, our sexual harassment lawyers in Citrus County explain how the alleged facts Capaldo v. Remington Long Island Employers, Case No. 18-cv-2746 (E.D. N.Y. March 30, 2023) illustrate that federal employment discrimination law protects sexual harassment victims who reject the sexual advances of sexual harassers with supervisory authority from false allegations of misconduct.
Legal Protection From Sexual Harassment
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex. Under long standing law, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination made unlawful by Title VII. Unlawful sexual harassment under Title VII is not limited to harassment by members of the opposite sex. Rather, Title VII also prohibits same-sex sexual harassment. Same-sex sexual harassment occurs when both the harasser and the victim are of the same sex. Title VII prohibits same-sex sexual harassment regardless of the harasser’s or victim’s sexual orientation. To violate Title VII, sexual harassment, including same-sex sexual harassment, must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile working environment.
In order to protect sexual harassment victims, Title VII contains an anti-retaliation provision. Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision protects sexual harassment victims from retaliation when they complain about perceived sexual harassment. Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision also protects sexual harassment victims from retaliation when they reject a supervisor’s sexual advances. When a sexual harasser with supervisory authority subjects an employee to an employment action that inflicts direct economic harm against the employee, such as demotion, reduction in pay, or termination, in retaliation for rejecting the supervisor’s sexual advances, Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision is violated. Under such circumstances, the employer is liable for the supervisor’s retaliatory employment action.
Same-Sex Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
In Capaldo, a man named Capaldo brought a same-sexual sexual harassment claim against his former employer, Remington Long Island Employers (Remington), pursuant to Title VII. Capaldo alleges that a male supervisor subjected him to same-sex sexual harassment in violation of Title VII. Capaldo further claims that he was terminated in retaliation for rejecting the supervisor’s sexual advances in violation of Title VII.
Remington manages the Hyatt Regency Long Island (the Hotel). Beginning in August 2016, Capaldo was employed at the Hotel as chief engineer. In this position, Capaldo was responsible for the Hotel’s physical plant, the general condition of the building, and maintenance of the Hotel’s assets. As chief engineer, Capaldo reported to the Hotel’s male general manager.
Capaldo claims that the general manager subjected to him severe sexual harassment at a karaoke bar on January 19, 2018. On that day, Capaldo was working as the manager on duty at the Hotel when the general manager summoned him to the karaoke bar. Remington’s director of human resources, Dunleavy, and was at the karaoke bar with the general manager. When he arrived, according to Capaldo, the general manager greeted him at the door by hugging him, kissing him, rubbing his hair, and touching his ear. Capaldo alleges that he pushed the general manager away, and said, “okay, that’s enough, thank you.” While they were seated at a table, Capaldo claims the general manager rubbed his shoulders, fondled his ear, rubbed his thigh multiple times, and “touched his crotch on the outside of his clothing.” Capaldo alleges that when he pushed the general manager away, the general manager said, “I’m the general manager, I can do what I want.” Capaldo allegedly responded, “no, you can’t,” and then got up from the table and walked behind the booth. Capaldo contends that the general manager followed him behind the booth, grabbed Capaldo by the hips and started rubbing his penis against Capaldo’s buttocks, simulating a sexual act. Capaldo alleges that as he was getting ready to leave, he said to Dunleavy, “I can’t believe you are allowing this.” Capaldo asserts that Dunleavy looked at him and laughed. Remington disputes Capaldo’s account of events.
Fired After Rejecting Alleged Sexual Advances
On February 28, 2018, the general manager reviewed the lock key interrogation reports and discovered that Capaldo had not been personally inspecting rooms. The general manager spoke with one of Capaldo’s co-workers, Anderson, to confirm that Capaldo had not been inspecting rooms. The general manager reported to Remington’s divisional vice president, Obomeghie, that Anderson confirmed that Capaldo had been giving Anderson his key to inspect rooms “for a while.”
On March 1, 2018, Obomeghie recommended to a management-level employee, Morales, that Capaldo be suspended and terminated for insubordination. Obomeghie reported to the general manager in an email that Capaldo was suspended and that “we may need to have [Anderson] do a written statement or sign the state that he gave.” Later that day, Dunleavy sent to Obomeghie and Morales a statement, purportedly signed by Anderson (the Anderson Statement), attesting to Capaldo’s delegation of room inspections. Capaldo maintains that Anderson did not author or sign the Statement. Anderson testified that the general manager and Dunleavy asked him to sign the Statement, but he refused, and he specifically told them that he was not inspecting rooms for Capaldo.
That same day, the general manager and Dunleavy met with Capaldo to advise him that he was suspended, which was without pay. Obomeghie and Morales agreed that Capaldo should be terminated. One week later, on March 8, 2018, the general manager and Dunleavy advised Capaldo that his employment had been terminated.
Fabricated Evidence Reflects Retaliation
Remington filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Capaldo’s retaliation claim. In moving for dismissal, Remington argued that the evidence established that Capaldo was fired for insubordination and not because he rejected the alleged sexual advances by the general manager. The trial court denied Remington’s motion for dismissal and ruled that Capaldo had presented sufficient evidence to proceed to the jury trial on his retaliation claim.
In denying Remington’s motion for dismissal, the trial court focused on the general manager’s role in bringing about Capaldo’s termination less than two months after he rejected the general manager’s alleged sexual advances. The trial court observed that Capaldo “presented evidence that [the general manager] fabricated the Anderson Statement in an effort to have Capaldo terminated.” The trial court explained that although Remington “seek[s] to downplay” the significance of evidence that the general manager fabricated the Anderson Statement by arguing that Obomeghie and Morales exercised independent judgment in terminating Obomeghie, Obomeghie’s testimony “suggests that absent the Anderson Statement, he would not have exercised his discretion to call for Capaldo’s termination.” In fact, Obomeghie testified at his deposition that he told the general manager “we need to get a statement” from Anderson. Moreover, the trial court reasoned, Obomeghie did not recommend Capaldo’s termination until after the general manager told him that Anderson confirmed that Capaldo was not inspecting rooms. Based on this evidence, the trial court concluded that a reasonable jury could find that Capaldo was fired in retaliation for rejecting the general manager’s alleged sexual advances.
Free Consultation For Harassment Victims
One of the most critical decisions sexual harassment victims must make is which sexual harassment lawyers to consult with regarding their rights and remedies under federal employment discrimination law. As part of our dedication to helping sexual harassment victims vindicate their rights, an experienced sexual harassment attorney will speak with you personally and you will receive the individualized attention your case deserves. We offer free confidential case evaluations for employees, and you will not have to pay to speak with our sexual harassment attorneys regarding your rights under federal employment discrimination law. Our sexual harassment lawyers are available for consultation at your convenience, including scheduling telephone consultations for evenings and weekends.
Citrus County Sexual Harassment Lawyers
Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Florida, our sexual harassment attorneys in Citrus County, Florida have fought for the rights of sexual harassment victims for more than twenty years. If you have experienced workplace sexual harassment or have questions about your rights as a sexual harassment victim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our sexual harassment lawyers in Citrus County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes sexual harassment cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.