Henkels & McCoy Group Inc., two subsidiaries, and the company’s chairman and CEO will pay $890,000 to end a former vice president and general counsel’s claims that she was harassed for complaining about bias against her and other female employees.
Caroline Henrich filed a notice of acceptance of the defendants’ offer of judgment under Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on Tuesday with the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Under Rule 68, a party who receives and rejects such an offer is liable for the post-offer costs incurred by the party who made it unless a more favorable judgment is ultimately obtained.
Henkels & McCoy and the other defendants didn’t admit to any liability on Henrich’s claims by making the offer and they continue to “expressly deny any such liability,” according to the offer.
The development came nearly three months after Judge Michael M. Baylson decided that a trial was necessary in the case because a jury could find the hostile work environment Henrich allegedly faced was severe or pervasive enough to violate Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
A “girl power” comment made by the head of human resources “can hardly be characterized as a mere stray comment or off-color joke,” the judge said in an Aug. 26 ruling. The comment occurred in the context of discouraging Henrich from continuing to support a female employee who complained that she was passed over for promotion because of her sex and could be seen by a jury as “demeaning in a very gender-specific way,” Baylson said.
There was also evidence that the comment was followed by the suggestion that Henkels & McCoy would stop hiring women if they continued to cause problems and that CEO Roderick Henkel allegedly “demanded that Henrich sign a quasi-legal document stating” that she would no longer discuss the female employee’s complaint, the judge said.
Console Mattiacci Law LLC represented Henrich. Fox Rothschild LLP represented the defendants.
The case is Henrich v. Henkels & McCoy, Inc., E.D. Pa., No. 2:20-cv-06281, offer of judgment accepted 11/22/22.