Trump’s Sex (Discrimination) Scandals part one: Harassment and Retaliation in Chicago

In addition to the race discrimination case Trump settled with the DOJ in the 1070’s, Trump has also faced numerous gender discrimination and sex harassment cases.  In fact, according to one USA Today investigation, he has faced at least two dozen cases for age, sex or race discrimination in employment — some of them being class cases. This is out of the thousands of cases that Trump has become embroiled in over the past decades.

There is so much out there on Trump’s sex discrimination scandals, we can only begin to scratch the surface. Today, we’ll look at a case from 2010 that shows the unsavory aspects we see from Trump on the campaign trail are his M.O. in the workplace as well.    More on others in the future.

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Trump Lets Managers Sexually Harass and Then Retaliate
For example, in January 2010, a female employee at a Trump restaurant in Chicago filed a lawsuit after she was fired for complaining about the sexual harassment she suffered while working as a waitress.  According to the complaint, the Trump manager forced kisses on her, slapped her ass, invitations to give him blow jobs, and ongoing crude and demeaning comments about how much he wanted to have sex with her.

When the woman went to even more senior management in Trump’s business for help, she was warned to “be careful in what [she] claims.”  Trump initiated no investigation.  Instead, she was told she had to work full time (despite the fact that the restaurant was hiring other part-time servers at the time). When she explained she could not work full-time because of her child-care responsibilities, Trump management said they would not staff her on any additional shifts.   After a judge refused to dismiss the case, Trump settled the matter.

A Lack of Professionalism and A Preference for Retaliation
There are two big take-aways on this one.

First, based on the complaint, the conduct happened repeatedly and in the open.  This is indicative of a culture that sees nothing wrong with objectifying women and treating them as sexual objects for men’s consumption.  Not exactly a surprise in light of Trump’s unabashed comments made before and on the campaign trail, but this shows that it isn’t just on-the-road performance for the cameras.  This is what professionalism looks like to him. Now imagine that brand of “professionalism” in the White House.  Shudder.

Second, based on the allegations in the complaint, the people that Trump hired to manage his restaurant — additional examples of who constitutes the “best people” Trump is always assuring us he will bring to the White House with him — are the people actually violating the law.  One manager is openly and repeatedly sexually assaulting and harassing a young mother.  The others are looking the other way.  Looking the other way is illegal.  THEN, when the employee complains, they don’t investigate.  Instead, they retaliate.  ALSO ILLEGAL.  So Trump’s management created the problem and then exacerbated it by doubling down on the illegal activity.

More than anything else, when I hear from clients that attempts to voice concerns are met with admonishments not to report or outright threats, I know that whatever experience that client has had is not isolated.  When a company’s approach is to use threats of retaliation or termination (or actual retaliation and termination), then I know that something big and ugly is hiding beneath the surface.  I’ve yet to encounter an exception to this rule.  That sort of infection, when allowed to fester, spreads.  It often becomes an inextricable part of the corporate makeup.  Again, imagine this sort of insidious approach to not dealing with problems, to hiding them, taking root in the White House.  Double Shudder.



Katherine Kimpel

Kate Kimpel is the Senior Editor of Shattering the Ceiling and is also an accomplished civil rights lawyer. She represents women and people of color in discrimination cases (and other kinds of employment and civil rights matters).  When not lawyering, she likely is bragging about her hound dog Ulysses, inventing cocktails to serve at her next dinner party, or convincing her husband to watch reruns of a Joss Whedon television show (any of them will do). 

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