‘Merc News’ Settles Harassment Suit

By: E&P Staff

The San Jose Mercury News has settled a sexual harassment complaint by a former mail room employee for $150,000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced in a press release.

The federal agency reported that the employee, Mark Newton, a 13-year Mercury News worker, had been ?subjected to about eight months of repeated harassment by a male supervisor — including unwelcome sexual comments and inappropriate touching.

?Although Newton complained to his immediate supervisor, the company failed to investigate or take corrective action in a timely manner,? the EEOC statement added.

According to the terms of the agreement settling the case, the Mercury News is required to reissue its sexual harassment policy and provide training to its mail room employees to prevent future discrimination. The newspaper denied any wrong doing, but agreed to settle the allegations after pre-suit negotiations with the EEOC, the agency said.

Mercury News officials could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. A story about the settlement on the paper?s Web site included no comment from the newspaper.

“I am probably the last person you would expect to find seeking help from the EEOC – a middle-aged white male, married with children,? Newton, a console technician, said in a statement released via the EEOC. ?The harassment I faced at work is something no one should have to go through – male or female. It was very destructive. I am very glad the Commission has helped resolve this matter, and that I can now move on with my life.”

EEOC Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, “This is a fair and reasonable settlement and we commend the Mercury News and its counsel for helping to resolve this case and avoiding lengthy and costly litigation. We also recognize the courage it takes for victims of harassment and discrimination, like Mr. Newton, to step forward and stand up for their rights.”

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