New York Contractor to Pay $1.5 Million in Harassment Settlement

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Robison Wells

In a suit that is making waves across both the New York construction landscape, but also across the country, a New York construction contractor, Trade Off LLC, has to pay 18 women $1.5 million in a settlement of a case that the New York Attorney General called "severe" sexual harassment.

The lawsuit, which has been simmering for months, names 18 women as litigants against the construction contractor who allegedly had staff and management solicit sexual favors in a "severe" quid pro quo to even receive paychecks or work overtime hours. This behavior was even more prevalent against women of color.

The attorney general’s office also said in a statement that the company managers “failed to take adequate action in response to complaints, and in fact, repeatedly protected harassers from punishment.”

According to a deep dive article by the online magazine Construction Dive, HR departments at construction firms must "train managers to listen for harassment complaints, acknowledge them, and escalate through the proper channels." By doing this and following proper channels, human resources can deflect the chance of future lawsuits for repeated bad behavior. If they fail to follow procedure, the HR professionals themselves could also be defendents in the proceedings.

Elizabeth Bille, senior vice president of workplace culture at EVERFI, said that businesses should take the obvious step further and never allow the behavior to take place at all.

"You've got to have CEOs and chairs of the board, leadership [and] managers" addressing the issue meaningfully, Bille said, "not just once a year but all the time."

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