Don’t Be the Next Lincoln Project. Do This Instead

Harmeet Dhillon

Present Situations

The Lincoln Project is falling apart frantically. Many states, including California, hold employers liable for their inaction when it comes to harassment at work. They cannot turn a blind eye to such illegal conduct. And when they do, they must compensate for their wrong doing.

Not only can they be liable for employee harassment, but they may be strictly liable when the harasser is an employee’s supervisor. That means employers cannot avoid liability by sticking their head in the sand when higher-ups are acting inappropriately. 

Collapse Of Lincoln projects

The Lincoln Project’s co-founders are probably about to experience that firsthand.   The group is collapsing in real time. Stories break, and leaders bolt. Co-founder Steve Schmidt is the latest to hop off the Lincoln Project bandwagon.

Why? His employees called him out publicly for allegedly allowing his fellow co-founder John Weaver to sexually harass countless employees. Weaver allegedly tried to solicit sexual favors in exchange for career advancement. 

The offers, referred to as “quid pro quos” in legal terms are themselves highly illegal. But it gets even worse. Schmidt did not just ignore these complaints; he retaliated against the employees who complained, instilling fear into others who wanted to complain. Yet another serious violation of the law. 

Investigation And Actions

Instead of firing Weaver, the Lincoln Project assisted him and made it worse by covering it up. The organization’s reputation was ruined overnight. 

The lesson in this is to train employees and follow best practices in handling allegations of harassment and other forms of discrimination. Hire outside counsel the moment a harassment allegation is made.

While lawyers are not inexpensive, but failing to address these allegations will cost you monetarily and in terms of your reputation, and it will cripple your business.

By hiring outside counsel after the first employee complained, the Lincoln Project would have saved—if not enhanced—their reputation. 

Beyond investigating and hiring counsel, employers must ensure each and every employee, especially the victims and witnesses, that there will be no retaliation for speaking up about the egregious behavior. 

Profit/Gain Of Lincoln’s Project

In the end, harassment and related claims are corporate and employee crises that must be managed. The Lincoln Project let the situation devolve inexcusably until a federal law enforcement investigation was opened. Only then did it decide to act by hiring an investigator.

That is too little, too late. Avoid this by hiring competent counsel who is also experienced in cris management, to manage the situation.

Our attorneys at the Dhillon Law Group are happy to speak with you about these issues to help protect employers against liability and reputational harm.

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Harmeet Dhillon is a nationally recognized lawyer, trusted boardroom advisor, and passionate advocate for individual, corporate and institutional clients across numerous industries and walks of life. Her focus is in commercial litigation, employment law, First Amendment rights, and election law matters.
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