Sexual Harassment Case Study: Even “Bad” Employees Have Rights

Renee MihalikA 42-year-old Hoboken, New Jersey resident is stirring up news in the employment law arena. Her claims of sexual harassment will proceed to a federal court trial, in spite of the defense claiming that her poor job performance and employment termination are the reasons behind her ‘retaliatory’ lawsuit.

A recent verdict by the federal appeals court in New York sided with Renee Mihalik, believing that a jury should decide whether her claims of job termination were on the basis of sexual harassment and her refusal of sexual advances by a top executive at Credit Agricole Cheuvreux North America Inc. Mihalik claims she received unwelcome sexual advances from her boss and CEO of the company, as well as suffered through a hostile work environment. Her claims include disparaging sexual remarks, sexual overtones in the office, and viewing of pornography by male employees via the Internet during office hours while ‘rating’ the sexuality of their female co-workers.

Mihalik worked for the New York brokerage company for 10 months during 2007-2008. Credit Agricole Cheuvreux claims that Mihalik was simply a substandard employee and that her job performance was severely lacking. They further state that her claims of sexual harassment are merely retaliatory in nature.

The ruling court found substantial evidence of Mihalik’s poor job performance and agreed that her performance was less than adequate. However, the court further stated that her poor job performance did not excuse the inappropriate actions of Cheuvreux’s CEO, nor did it excuse the encouraged improper atmosphere of her work environment. Opinions expressed by the court further suggested that CEO, Ian Peacock, may have discriminated against Mihalik for refusing his sexual advances and used her poor job performance as an excuse to punish her. It was ultimately determined that a panel of jurors should weigh the evidence and decide if sexual harassment and retaliatory actions were truly perpetrated.

New Jersey resident, Mihalik, will now have her day in court. Referencing New York City Human Rights Law, the court recognized that no employee, no matter job performance standing, should suffer from sexual discrimination in the workplace – ever. If you feel you’ve been a victim, contact a sexual harassment lawyer.

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