Many of our Maryland readers are probably thoroughly familiar with the Starbucks coffee shop chain. At one point in time it seemed like there was a Starbucks on every street corner, although the economic downturn of recent years changed that quite a bit. Still, Starbucks has become an enduring American brand, strong enough in name recognition to rival even McDonald's. But, what some people may not realize is that such a large company is also a large employer, with thousands of employees across the entire United States. And one problem that most large employers have to deal with at some point in time is sexual harassment.
Starbucks found itself in just such a situation recently, when a female employee filed a lawsuit on August 7. In the lawsuit the woman claims that her male manager was responsible for the harassment, which allegedly included sexual comments at first, and then progressed into physical contact. The woman also claims that other employees were subjected to this type of harassment and discrimination.
Sexual harassment claims are, unfortunately, still all too common in the American workplace. As the woman's attorney reportedly stated, the woman only wanted to be able to do her job in a workplace that was free from harassment and discrimination.
To Starbucks' credit, it appears that the company is taking this employee's complaint very seriously. A spokesperson has suggested publicly that any type sexual harassment committed by Starbucks employees against other employees is not tolerated. Despite this public stance, however, the company as a whole may still be held responsible for the actions of an employee, especially if the employee who is alleged to have commit the sexual harassment is on the management level, as is the case with this recent lawsuit.
Source: Palo Alto Online, "Starbucks employee files sexual-harassment suit," Sue Dremann, Aug. 9, 2013