Saturday, April 13, 2013

Harassment in the Workplace (Kerry Ellison Lawsuit)

In 1984 Kerry Ellison first met Sterling Gray while she was training as an agent at the IRS in San Mateo, California. It was not until 1986 that Sterling Gray asked Kerry Ellison to go to lunch with him as it was customary for the employees to go to lunch together.  She accepted the lunch invitation, but Sterling Gray’s suggested they stop by his apartment briefly where he gave Kerry a tour around his place. Afterward, she felt very uncomfortable with Gray and decided that she would not accompany him to lunch again. Sterling continued to ask her to go with him to lunch, but Kerry always refused. The more she refused the more he bothered her. He would show up at her desk, he would ask her out for drinks, and finally he wrote her a note that said that he had stayed up all night crying over her. She tried to avoid him, but he started following her and cornering her at the office. She became alarmed and immediately informed her supervisor, Bonnie Miller. Bonnie Miller suggested that they needed to take the matter further because Sterling Gray was really harassing her at work. Ellison felt uncomfortable with that and suggested that she handle it by herself until further notice. Other co workers became aware of the situation, and they often tried to protect her, by walking her to her car and even by confronting Sterling Gray. Kerry Ellison left to train in Missouri, but Gray still continued to write her and harass her. His letters became more suggestive and more disturbing. Kerry informed her supervisor again, this time letting her no that she wanted to be transferred because she could no longer work in the same office as Sterling Gray. Bonnie then informed her supervisor, Joe Benton. They spoke with Sterling Gray and told him to leave her alone....that he must cease all contact. He was eventually transferred, and Kerry returned to her San Mateo office. This was not agreeable to Sterling Gray. In 1987, He filed a grievance and demanded to be sent back to San Mateo. His request was granted as long as he agreed to have no communication with Kerry. Kerry Gray was upset when she learned that he would be returning. She finally decided to file a harassment charge, she also requested a transfer until the matter was resolved. She hired a lawyer and sued.

Sterling Gray was married with a child at the time

This was considered a landmark case that redefined the definition of $exual harasment laws