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Former Netflix Employee Wins Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against the Company

Barry Coleman was hired as HR director at Netflix in early 2016. The streaming giant offered Coleman the job after seeing his presentation on doing business in China, in 2015. Shortly after receiving the offer, Coleman learned that his son had been murdered. Distraught over the tragic loss of his son, Coleman suffered from severe depression. But Netflix maintained their offer of a $500,000 annual salary to be the director of employee services.

Coleman alleges that his recruiter, Barbie Graver, former VP of talent at Netflix, said that Netflix would accommodate his situation: “If you work at half your normal speed for the first six months, I’m okay with that.” However, Coleman says that this special treatment was quickly replaced with harassment. He claims to have been ostracized for not working the “Netflix Way,” and for being disengaged. But that wasn’t the worst of it.

Coleman claims that a male superior began making inappropriate advances in April 2016. He initially asked Coleman to join him for a rendezvous with another male business exec. Coleman politely declined the offer, but the invitations didn’t stop. As stated in the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court: “Being heterosexual, [Coleman] was uncomfortable with [the superior’s] advances and attempted to keep some distance so as not to offend his superior. However, the invitations to go out continued.”

Not “Netflix Enough”

Then came the gossiping. According to Coleman, the superior began talking about him with other employees, saying that Coleman wasn’t “Netflix enough,” and calling him arrogant. When he brought the issue to Graver’s attention, not only did she not initiate an investigation, she claimed to be “cool” with this type of behavior. A MA employment law attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been the victim of workplace sexual harassment.

The complaint went on to say that: “During [Coleman’s] employment, Ms. Graver discussed her handling of a prior sexual harassment claim at Netflix. She told [Coleman] that the accused employee had a history of making inappropriate comments and had been warned on numerous occasions. Ms. Graver also told [Coleman] that many Netflix executives would make inappropriate sexual comments and that [she] was ‘cool’ with it, but understood that others may not be. Ms. Graver, in communicating these and other examples of Netflix unwritten policy of tolerating harassment and discrimination, made it clear to [Coleman] that he should not be ‘over-sensitive’ even when he was being harassed by his superior.”

Apparently the situation only continued to get worse until Graver took a new job. According to Coleman, Graver’s replacement did not wish to accommodate his continued psychological needs from the death of his son. As such, his employment was terminated in May 2016. Netflix holds that Coleman’s termination was based on poor performance. The company claims that he was rarely in the office, and that he was often condescending to his subordinates.

Netflix Reaches Settlement with Coleman

Although Netflix strongly denies any wrongdoing, it recently reached a settlement with Coleman over his claims. The company requested that the case be put to arbitration. The judge agreed, and a settlement was reached relatively quickly. According to a statement from Netflix, “Coleman was employed at Netflix for less than five months and was terminated for performance issues. He raised his claims only after termination. The company investigated them and found them to be baseless. The company resolved the matter before arbitration for approximately the standard severance Coleman was entitled to for being terminated.”

Nevertheless, Coleman walked away with a settlement agreement. A Boston employment law attorney can help you recover damages if you have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Top Employment Law Firm

If you have been discriminated against or harassed at work, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of MA workers for more than 50 years. We will thoroughly review the details of your case to determine the best legal strategy for moving forward. Sexual harassment cases can be especially sensitive. Our knowledgeable, compassionate attorneys have extensive experience with these cases, and we will be by your side throughout the entire process. Don’t go through this difficult time alone. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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