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“Fat Andy” recovers fat judgment – a cautionary tale to employers

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A food server at a restaurant at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino filed a lawsuit against his employer seeking a judgment for intentional infliction of emotional distress because he had been taunted for his weight. A sign calling him “Fat Andy” had been posted at his station and, despite requests to remove it, the sign was not removed. Ultimately, the employee recovered a judgment against the restaurant for $500,000.

Your position as an employer is placing you in the cross hairs of litigation for any number of reasons. In addition to his claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, Andy may have had a claim for a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If Andy were gay or transgender, he may have had claims for discriminatory behavior. This is also true if Andy felt that the taunting was related to his age, ethnicity, national origin or any other protected class.

Employers must be vigilant to prevent hostile work environments! Even if you believe that teasing is good-nature or that the recipient of the teasing seems to be in on the joke, you may still be held liable and required to pay a substantial amount of money for such teasing.

Of particular concern, this action took place here in Las Vegas. This should serve as a warning that courts and juries are prepared to hold employers liable and make them pay the price for their conduct.

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