Did Joan Rivers Sexually Harass an Employee

15 Mar

I am not sure if this was a publicity stunt or idle Hollywood gossip.  Still, news of Joan Rivers “harassment” of a female employee can provide lessons for an employer.

Apparently, Joan Rivers and someone named Melissa have a reality show called “Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best.”  While the show was being filmed, Joan was captured trying on jewelry on the young woman.  The woman provides the following description of the incident :

“Putting all the jewelry on me and pulling my sweater back and touching my breasts,”

Rivers may think that the young lady’s allegations are ridiculous, but pulling the woman’s blouse open and saying, “Peek-a-boo, look at you today,” then complimenting the woman’s breasts will land most corporations in court.  With activity caught on camera, it would be difficult for Rivers to dispute her employee’s claims.

When an employer learns of allegations of harassment, the appropriate thing is to take prompt remedial action to ensure that the harassment does not repeat itself.  In this case, the company took the appropriate action by conducting mandatory harassment training for all employees.

Ms. Rivers’ response, however, could land a company in hot water because she made it no secret that she was not happy with having to attend the training. Evidence that a CEO thought harassment training was a waste of time would not be well received by a jury.

Fortunately, for Ms. Rivers and her company, the employee decided not to move forward with the complaint.  I certainly hope that Ms. Rivers’ legal team advises her not to fire this employee because then her company would be forced to defend a retaliation suit.

For questions regarding sexual harassment and/or retaliation, do not hesitate to call me, Rich Bradford at (813) 413-2402.

As a side note, I made note of prompt remedial action above.  While this is an important defense in a harassment case, this defense may not be available in a case where a superior harasses a subordinate.


Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “Did Joan Rivers Sexually Harass an Employee

  1. E J Williams Jr

    March 18, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    She should not have touched the woman……………

  2. Zipporah Lubin-Sandler

    March 19, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Seriously? Joan Rivers is a comedian, and frankly she does this kind of stuff in her act, so why was this woman so surprised. That’s part of her schtick. Oh and Melissa is Joan’s daughter.

  3. Bradford & Bradford, Attorneys at Law

    March 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Thank you for the comments. Again, management can use this situation, whether real or staged, as an example of how to deal with allegations of harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately, in a lot of these cases (anecdotal not statistical) managers would make it look like the complaining party is the troublemaker. In this example, management decided to ensure that all employees participated in harassment training. This is one of several tools available to management to deal with harassment in the workplace.


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