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Harassment Settlement Sets Record

Graham Earnshaw

NEW YORK, August 3, Reuter – A manufacturer of women’s cosmetics agreed Thursday to pay a total of $1.2 million to 15 female employees who said they were humiliated, hounded and sexually harassed by the company’s chief executive.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said the agreement by Farmingdale, N.Y.-based Del Laboratories was the largest settlement of a sexual harassment suit ever obtained by the commission. Del makes Sally Hansen nail products.

Seven of the women appeared at an EEOC news conference to denounce Del’s CEO, Dan Wassong.

“He speaks to women as if they were nothing more than an ant crawling over the floor,” former executive assistant Lisa Spohr said. “He made you feel dirty and cheap.”

The complaint alleged that Wassong grabbed one woman’s breast, touched two women on their buttocks and frequently addressed female employees with his fly open.

Another former employee, Robin Cohen, said she was fired after nine days because she complained to the company’s personnel director.

A company lawyer, Mark Dichder, said the charges were baseless. The settlement states there was no finding of wrongdoing.

Asked whether Wassong would keep his job, Dichder said: “That is up to the board of directors.” Wassong, 64, who last year earned $1.1 million, declined comment.

The 15 women were either secretaries or executive assistants to Wassong. The EEOC said 12 other women had made similar charges against him.

EEOC Chairman Gilbert Casellas said the case was important because of the size of the settlement, the seniority of the person accused and the large number of people who came forward. REUTER

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