Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers owner Paul Allen is getting a little wealthier. Earlier this month a previous employee was ordered to pay $45,000 to Vulcan, Inc, which Allen co-founded. For almost 30 years, the company has managed investments and projects of Allen’s. Allegedly, the hostile work environment included mistreatment, sexual harassment, and illegal activity.
The Hostile Work Environment
Through Vulcan, Inc, Allen hires bodyguards to protect himself, his sister Jody, and their respective children. The bodyguards follow the family while traveling or attending events. Most of these employees are military vets including two Navy S.E.A.L.S. Fifteen former employees brought harassment lawsuits against the company. Allegedly, Jody Allen forced the male employees to model while she flirted. If they did not comply, she punished them. Another allegation was illegally taking animal bones from Africa. One bodyguard noted he would rather be shot than continue working in this environment.
When Turner was hired as the head bodyguard, she signed an arbitration agreement. She believed if she did not sign the paper, she would loose her job. Many companies now write contracts with arbitration agreements to save money. The agreement requires that if a lawsuit arises, it must go through a private judge. Many people think this sides with the company and is unfair toward plaintiffs. Only one of the four other former bodyguards who sued Vulcan, Inc was forced to go through private arbitration like Turner. He ended up being awarded $153,100 for unpaid hours. Most of the award went to pay attorney fees.
A Turn of Events
Tracy Turner, one of Paul Allen’s personal bodyguards, states she faced a hostile work environment. Along with her, 14 other bodyguards left due to similar circumstances. According to KOMO News, Turner is the only bodyguard who is required to pay Vulcan. This is, in part, due to an unfortunate turn of events. While still in private arbitration, Turner’s lawyer abruptly quit. She was not given time to find a new lawyer and had to drop the case. Vulcan, though, continued going to arbitration without her present. Initially, Turner was ordered to pay $119,000, but a judge reduced it. This is due to a law that does not allow judgments that punish workers for loosing employee abuse lawsuits.
This month, the King Count Supreme Court agreed with the results of the arbitration. Turner does still have the opportunity to appeal if she decides. If not, the cases against Vulcan, Inc. and its owners will finally be at rest. Turner will want to hire a reliable and competent defense attorney in Seattle if she does continue forward.