Thirty To Forty People Allegedly Groped In Uline Workplace, Outlines Chicago Employment Lawyer Timothy Coffey
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) December 18, 2013 - It is not often that a case involving so many individuals alleging sexual harassment comes to light.
“This case is unusual in the sense that there may be up to 40 people involved ---- men and women. All of them suggesting their workplace, Uline’s Waukegan plant in Chicago, is a hotbed of hostility and sexual harassment, due to be being shoved, groped and assaulted while at work,” outlined Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. Uline distributes industrial, shipping and packing materials all across North America and boasts 25,000 products, including corrugated boxes in over 1,000 sizes, shipped from ten distribution centers.
Employees who had taken all they were going to take from their alleged harasser, reported him to upper management and the company Human Resources department, demanding that something be done about their manager, Scott Zingsheim. “It appeared their complaints fell on deaf ears, as nothing was done about them,” indicated Coffey. Several of the workers decided to take their complaints to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) and file a complaint.
Over the course of the subsequent investigation by the IDHR, it was found that the workers did have cause to pursue a harassment lawsuit. Only two of four current and former Uline workers filed suit. Those that filed outlined several examples of the type of harassment they faced on a daily basis. One female worker said the manager would come up behind her, rub up against her body, lean over her and put his mouth on her ear. The male co-worker indicated the same manager, Zingsheim, would also tap between the men’s legs, right into their genital area and rub their backs. It was allegedly done in such a manner that the worker could not get away from the unwanted invasion of their physical privacy.
“Overall, the two workers who did file suit are suggesting there were at least 30 to 40 employees harassed in two different departments at the company, over a number of years. The male who filed suit was also fired three weeks after launching his suit; which would also raise the issue of wrongful termination and retaliation,” Coffey added. Interestingly, about the time the lawsuits were filed, the manager received a promotion and was moved to corporate headquarters. The company issued a statement that the move was not a promotion, but had not dealt with the allegations of sexual harassment, retaliation and wrongful dismissal.
While there is likely to be a great deal of anecdotal evidence in this particular case, it is also likely that the case is a strong one, given the number of workers who were supposedly involved in the harassment incidents and who would be able to corroborate other worker’s stories. It may also take some time for a case of this nature to make its way through the courts, as word-of-mouth evidence alone would not be sufficient to mount a court case. Accusations must be substantiated and verified by others, a process partly supported by the IDHR finding cause for affected workers to file a lawsuit in the first place.
Individuals who find themselves working in a sexually charged and hostile workplace need to consult with an experienced employment attorney to find out what rights they have and how they may pursue a lawsuit, should they choose to file. It is important that they have kept records of any and all incidents they have experienced on-the-job.
THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C.
351 W. Hubbard Street, Suite 602
Chicago, IL 60654
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