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Since when is 'strip club attendance' in the job description?

Most Florida residents work in fairly boring office environments. Conversation is usually polite, inoffensive and non-political, and not much employee interaction happens outside work.

If this describes your job, you might appreciate it more when considering the alternative. In a recent lawsuit, two men who worked for the nation's largest auto retailer say they were subjected to illegal and immoral activities both at work and after hours. They have sued the company for a host of offenses including retaliation, wrongful termination and sexual harassment.

In their lawsuit, the two California men claim that AutoNation "fostered a sexually charged and drug and alcohol infused environment." This allegedly included employee trips to strip clubs and brothels at the insistence of management. While there, managers allegedly attempted to persuade employees to receive sexual acts.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that some members of management drank alcohol and did cocaine and other drugs at company functions or company-sponsored events.

The workplace environment included inappropriate sexual jokes and comments, according to the two plaintiffs. One says he was called derogatory names such as "faggot" and "homo" by his supervisors. The complaint notes that "AutoNation has a publicly known prejudice against gay people and, in fact, is subject to various suits regarding such already."

One of the men says he suffered retaliation at work after he told colleagues that he didn't want to participate in the aforementioned activities. In addition to being harassed and ridiculed, he claims he was ignored by colleagues, given unfairly negative performance reviews and suffered adverse employment actions affecting promotional opportunities and pay.

The other plaintiff alleges that he suffered harassment for standing up for his co-worker. Eventually, both men were fired.

These allegations paint a picture of significant workplace dysfunction. Management and employees have been accused of many actions that are illegal in addition to being immoral. In cases like this, employment lawsuits may serve several important functions. In addition to compensating victims, they may also be the first step toward reforming a workplace culture that is severely out of order.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Strip Clubs Were Part of the Job," Tish Kraft, Dec. 13, 2011

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