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Assaulted employee complains of employer's 'drinking culture'

A large and well-known law firm has settled a lawsuit with a former employee who filed a somewhat scathing lawsuit against it.

Patton Boggs is the law firm in question, and a former employee at the firm says that a "drinking culture" was prevalent in the workplace. They held a regular event called "Third Thursdays," where employees at the firm would head out for a happy hour, in addition to other alcohol-centric events, according to the suit.

At one of these "Third Thursdays" events, the employee was assaulted and verbally harassed by another employee who worked in the IT department. Upon complaining to the HR department, the victimized employee says she experienced a hostile workplace and was "unjustly fired" in a retaliatory move.

See, it is cases like this that make employees fearful of reporting despicable or illegal workplace activity. You have a right as an employee to report such activity without being retaliated against -- and yet companies do it all the time.

The woman sued Patton Boggs and the two parties came to a settlement recently with few details coming out about the agreement.

Retaliation can happen in a number of ways, and none of these occurrences are acceptable. If you blow the whistle; if you take leave because of a medical condition; or if you discuss things in confidence with HR; your employer cannot use these events to take punitive action. Many try -- they may demote an employee, change their pay or simply make the work environment around them hostile and untenable -- but their efforts are illegal.

Source: Blog of Legal Times, "Former Patton Boggs Employee Ends Retaliation Lawsuit," Zoe Tillman, March 18, 2013

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