On June 29, 2015, a jury in the Southern District Court of New York awarded Hanna Bouveng, a Swedish intern at New York Global Group (NYGG), $18 million in damages for sexual harassment and defamation. Bouveng sued NYGG’s Chief Executive Officer, Benjamin Wey, alleging sexual harassment, unlawful retaliation, and defamation.
On October 1, 2013, Bouveng started working for Wey as a marketing intern. Starting shortly after Bouveng’s hiring, and continuing throughout her employment, Wey sexually harassed Bouveng: he made comments about her appearance, purchased revealing clothing for her, and attempted to have sex with her. When she refused his advances, Wey threatened to fire her, revoke her visa and throw her out of her apartment.
In April 2014, Wey became disappointed with Bouveng’s resistance, demanding she show him “tangible love.” A few months later, Wey entered Bouveng’s apartment unannounced and, upon finding her boyfriend sleeping, fired her. A month after firing Bouveng, Wey published disturbing articles about her, defaming her by accusing her of being a “street walker,” a cocaine addict, and a “loose woman.” Because of Wey’s conduct, Bouveng moved back to her hometown in Sweden, starting a new life working at a small café. However, Wey tracked her down, traveled to Sweden, and sent text messages and emails to her family spreading the same lies written in his articles.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in hiring, compensation, and terms, conditions or privileges of employment on the basis of, among other things, sex. In this case, Wey’s insistence on sexual favors in exchange for continued employment is a form of sexual harassment known as “quid pro quo” sexual harassment. Out of spite, Wey used rejection as a basis for decisions affecting her employment and personal life. He is now paying the price for his illegal conduct.
If you believe your employer has discriminated against you please contact The Harman Firm, LLP. If you are interested in learning more about sexual harassment in the workplace, Please see The Harman Firm’s own, Ed Rivera, on PIX 11 News.