Steps to take after experiencing sex discrimination in the workplace
AccuWeather agreed to pay $290,000 after an investigation found the company discriminated against female employees by subjecting them to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs also found Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather did not exercise reasonable care to prevent and correct the discrimination and harassment.
Rhonda Seaton, AccuWeather’s marketing communication’s director, wrote in an email Monday that the company cooperated with the OFCCP investigation and is using the opportunity to “further enhance our strong programs to promote workplace inclusion and diversity.”
When AccuWeather President Joel Myers signed the agreement in June, four women already received payment. At least 35 other women were sent a letter and opted in to the settlement, according to the agreement.
The agreement required that AccuWeather — which is a top-15 employer in Centre County — make changes to the workplace environment, company policies and procedures and training. It also prohibited the company from retaliating against any employee for making a harassment claim.
The company must provide information on how to communicate concerns, document any forms of harassment or retaliation and provide mandatory in-person training on equal employment opportunity principles.
AccuWeather was also required to use a third party to receive and investigate alleged harassment, intimidation, threats, retaliation and coercion throughout 2018.
“This third party will have the ability — free from involvement by AccuWeather management — to process and investigate complaints and may not be supervised by any officer, partner, owner, director, manager, supervisor or employee of AccuWeather,” the agreement said. “AccuWeather will bear all costs associated with the selection and retention of the third party and the performance of its duties.”
Former employees who worked between Jan. 1, 2014 and Dec. 21, 2017 received a letter from AccuWeather notifying them about the settlement. The letter included a form for former employees to be considered for a payment of at least $7,250.
In the letter, AccuWeather denied the allegations.
Despite that, AccuWeather signed the agreement “in the interest of resolving the specific, alleged violations without engaging in further legal proceedings (and) to rapidly address the concerns of OFCCP.”
Seaton said the company instituted several initiatives to “ensure AccuWeather is the most welcoming, inclusive, empowering and the very best workplace it can be.”
An annual engagement survey, additional paid days off (including a diversity day), leadership training and establishing a third party Concern Line to handle anonymous complaints are among the changes.
“Our objective is to be the very best, inclusive, respectful and empowering workplace we can be and to set the standard for all companies,” Seaton wrote. “Each of the last few years, we have published internally that our No. 1 corporate goal is to emphasize that our team members are the heart of our success and this standard is more than a top priority — it is embedded within our culture at AccuWeather.”