UPDATED 1/26/09

A part-time secretary who worked for three weeks before resigning is entitled to $15,000 in emotional distress damages and six months back pay, according to a recent CHRO Hearing Officer decision.  The case is particularly notable because the company was Claywell Electric, run by the now-jailed Kurt Claywell.

The employer in the case, CHRO ex rel. Doe v. Claywell Electric (available here), didn’t put up a fight on the discrimination charges as well, taking a "default" against it.

Nevertheless, the employee still had to prove that she suffered damages as a result of the alleged discrimination. Here, the hearing officer suggests that the employee may have been hired because she could be sexually harassed by Mr. Claywell:

It would not be an unwarranted stretch to conclude that the complainant was hired for the singular reason that she was deemed by Mr. Claywell to be a suitable target for sexual harassment.

And what constituted the discrimination? According to the hearing officer:

The most disturbing characteristic of Mr. Claywell’s] workplace actions (fully attributable to the respondent entity) is that they appear to have been designed to intimidate and humiliate. He would uniformly wait until the complainant was virtually defenseless before engaging in his groping, fondling and propositioning. The tactics included (previously recounted in part):
• pinning the complainant between his chair and his desk rendering her virtually immobile;
• confronting her while she was seated on the floor and confined to a space measuring perhaps no more than eighteen square feet and throwing books at her while so immobilized;
• dumping documents in her arms which were already full of documents to be copied and thus defenseless, and
• surprising and pinning the complainant in a closet as a prelude to an assault.

From a purely legal perspective, what is also interesting about the case is that the Hearing Officer allowed the employee to bring her claim under a pseudonym. (For background on the subject of pseudonyms, I’ve found a very interesting law review article here.)  Its entirely unclear from this particular decision why such a practice is being allowed here, but the Hearing Officer cites to Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 19a-581 et seq — which is a section dealing with "AIDS Testing and Medical Information" — to support the proposition that confidentiality is needed here.

UPDATE: Since my original post, I have been able to confirm through several sources that the Complainant was allowed to bring the claim under a pseudonym because the CHRO regulations (which are based on the above statute) allow for its use for sexual assault victims.  In this matter, Mr. Claywell had been formally charged and prosecuted for an assault.   Thus, although the decision from the hearing officer cited to the "AIDS Testing and Medical Information" statute, the decision in this matter was based on the Complainant’s status as a sexual assault victim only.