Former St. Hope Foundation Employee wins 522k in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Houston ­– Audrey Spanko, a University of Texas graduate, started working her first position full time with the St. Hope Foundation in 2012. Spanko expressed excitement for her social worker position, and acknowledged that her job at the St. Hope Foundation was exactly what she wanted. Approximately 11 months after her employment commenced, Spanko departed from her job alleging that she endured unwanted sexual harassment by an unnamed co-worker.

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Spanko says the co-worker would often “grab her from behind.” There were times the co-worker attempted “kiss her against her will.” At an office party, the co-worker allegedly “nibbled on her ear.” According to the sexual harassment lawsuit, Spanko consistently reported the sexual harassment to the St. Hope Foundation group of health care clinics’ chain of command, and evidence indicates they ignored Spanko’s complaints for an extended period of time.

During a client appreciation party at an off-site location, Spanko claims her co-worker “put his arm around her” and “made lewd comments” towards her. As the night progressed. The situation escalated when the co-worker allegedly “barricaded a hotel room door” with the intention to keep Spanko from escaping his presence. Spanko’s defense tactic, “kneeing him in the groin,” provided a way for her to get away from the ludicrous co-worker. This insane incident triggered the company’s motive to finally open an investigation.

St. Hope Foundation Responds to the Sexual Harassment Complaint

The company’s board president, Denyse Thierry, who has been employed with St. Hope Foundation for more than 10 years scrutinized the sexual harassment complaints. After discussing the matter with the St. Hope Foundation executives, they ruled to terminate the co-worker. Thierry, on the other hand, “thought we could work it out.” The co-worker was place on probation instead.

From a business perspective, it can be very difficult to eliminate an employee who might be a great asset to the workplace. If their behavior surrounding the business appears to be unpleasant, some individuals like Thierry might believe there is a way to remedy the situation in order to keep the company running smoothly as oppose to analyzing the larger picture. The sexual harassment in the workplace is a problem that spiraled out of control.

An individual who intentionally engages in workplace misconduct makes it hard for a business to fix a work related issue. Eventually, the co-worker was terminated for another reason that does not connect to this sexual harassment case.

Life Changed for Spanko after St. Hope Foundation

The unemployment benefits that Spanko applied for were denied. Spanko reveals that she had to survive off of her savings while she was unemployed. Since unemployment denied her application, Spanko turned to food stamps to get through the months.

A sexual harassment lawsuit was filed in Harris County District Court on behalf of Spanko. In addition to workplace sexual harassment, Spanko accused the St. Hope Foundation of workplace retaliation. Spanko explained that her job put her on an unpaid leave. Eventually, Spanko quit her position to prevent the continuous sexual harassment from occurring. She said St. Hope Foundation “challenged her unemployment benefits.”

After a two-week trial, the jury ruled in favor of Audrey Spanko with a 522k award after they discovered the numerous reports she made regarding sexual harassment had been “ignored for months.” Spanko’s sexual harassment lawyer did a comparative analysis on her client’s case and other sexual harassment complaints that were ignored by the board of directors, and she realized that “they just don’t know how to handle it.” The sexual harassment complaints have been identified as an issue “they sweep under the rug.”

At last, Thierry admits that the male co-worker was wrong. Then she argued that a fair investigation had been completed, and the St. Hope Foundation “tried to save her,” but the jury searched proudly, and determined that the St. Hope Foundation’s efforts were inadequate for a serious complaint.

If you have ever experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, reported it, and your executive leaders overlooked your sexual harassment complaints in New York, New Jersey, or Philadelphia, contact our New York Jersey, and Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC. For more information on sexual harassment in the workplace, read our employment law blog.


New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia Employment Attorneys

If you feel you have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment in New York, New Jersey or Philadelphia or if your employment rights have been violated, then you should immediately contact the NYC, NJ, PA sexual harassment lawyers at the employment law firm of DEREK T. SMITH LAW GROUP, PLLC. No one deserves a hostile work environment.

Call today to schedule a FREE sexual harassment legal advice Consultation in NY, NJ & PA with one of our top rated sexual harassment attorneys here at the Derek T. Smith Law Group you can reach us online or by calling 877-4NYLAWS. Our NYC employment law attorneys handle a variety of cases involving sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and other employment-related claims. We serve clients throughout New York, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. We also have offices in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. to serve you.

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