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Will Archie Comics lawsuit involve employment discrimination?

Many of our Colorado readers probably know that employers are obligated to provide a safe working environment for employees, as well as an environment that is free from discrimination. This means that appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that there is no physical danger to an employee's health and that illegal behavior, such as employment discrimination based on factors like race, nationality or gender, is unacceptable. But what happens when employees have an employer who they view as a bully?

That is the assertion being made by six employees of world-famous Archie Comics. The employees believe their employer, the chief executive of Archie Comics, is responsible for creating a hostile work environment for everyone and is attempting destroy the decades-old company. The lawsuit reportedly seeks $32.5 million in damages.

According to the employees' lawsuit, the CEO has in the past referred to male employees as "penises." This could suggest that there may be some gender discrimination occurring in the workplace, or perhaps it could even be classified as sexual harassment. Further, this is not the first time the CEO has been embroiled in litigation over the future of Archie Comics.

When a group of employees band together and agree that their employer is creating a less than optimal employment situation, it boosts the credibility of each complaint. As the saying goes, "where there's smoke, there's fire." However, there really is nothing illegal about a boss being a jerk - a lawsuit will most likely have to prove that some illegal activity, usually in the form of employment discrimination, has occurred in the workplace.

Source: New York Post, "Archie Comics employees file lawsuit against 'bully' boss," Julia Marsh, Oct. 3, 2013

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