Sexual Harassment Suit Against Cox/Houston Moved To Federal Court
November 3, 2014 at 3:55 AM (PT)
COX MEDIA GROUP has won removal of a lawsuit by former COX RADIO/HOUSTON sales representative MICHAEL D. KOERNER over alleged sexual harassment by his General Sales Manager from HARRIS COUNTY 234th Judicial Court to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of TEXAS.
KOERNER's suit alleged that he was fired after "repeatedly refus(ing) the offensive sexual and/or romantic advances of the manager of his department; the manager who hired him and had authority and/or influence to effect his termination. This manager had created a hostile working environment for Mr. KOERNER by infusing it with inappropriate sexual conduct, his acquiescence to such offensive behavior made a term and condition of his employment. When he opposed this supervisor's harassment, she retaliated by interfering with his ability to perform his work duties, and ultimately, by effecting his termination. COX was fully aware of this woman's misconduct as regards to over-sexualizing the workplace and took no action to stop it."
The suit names then-GSM JAYMIE KOSINA as the alleged harasser and asserts that when he was hired, KOERNER took the job in part because he was assured that COX "prized family and prioritized personal lives accordingly," because KOERNER's wife was battling breast cancer at the time and he would need consideration in helping raise their two children. The suit alleges that KOSINA "became overly casual by confiding personal details of her life, including quoting (Regional VP) MARK KRIESCHEN's comments to her about the size of her breasts," allegedly rubbing her breasts and saying "it's such a burden to have size E cups and be so sexy"; the suit also alleges that KOSINA dressed in a "highly sexualized manner," suggested that special events were an opportunity for staffers to be "away from spouses and family," and that at the 2011 HOUSTON RODEO, KOSINA first was seen straddling a male client in the COX suite and then hugging KOERNER and kissing him on the mouth, which he made clear was unwanted and reminded KOSINA of his wife's situation. The suit alleges that KOSINA expressed jealousy when, in her absence, he went to another female manager for help on a work matter, and that at a COX training conference in ATLANTA, KOSINA kissed KOERNER in the mouth in a hotel hallway and he rejected the advance. And at a car dealer event in 2012, KOERNER alleges that KOSINA flashed her breasts at him.
KOERNER was fired on OCTOBER 1, 2012, and he claims in the suit that KOSINA used the occasion of his oral surgery to demand information he could not immediately supply and that was not urgent, followed by his termination. He filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and TEXAS Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division.