Hal Leonard Publishing settles sex suit

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 15, 2012 - 8:05 PM

Former employee took Winona division of Hal Leonard Publishing to court for failing to stop sexual harassment.

A global leader in the music print business is settling a former employee's sexual harassment claim alleging that female workers were subjected to unwanted touching, indecent exposure and tawdry comments at the company's facility in Winona, Minn.

Milwaukee-based Hal Leonard Publishing has agreed to distribute $150,000 among 10 employees as part of a class-action settlement, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Wednesday.

EEOC investigators determined that in 2006 and 2007 women were subjected to grabbing of breasts, exposure of genitalia by male co-workers and sex-based comments at the company's manufacturing and distribution center.

The harassment persisted despite many complaints to management, the agency said.

"An employer who has a sexual harassment policy on paper but fails to enforce it is placing itself at great risk," Julie Schmid, acting director of the EEOC's Minneapolis area office, said in a statement announcing the settlement.

"If employers would take seriously complaints from their employees and enforce their anti-harassment policies, we wouldn't have cases like this," Schmid added. "We are pleased that Hal Leonard worked cooperatively with us to resolve this charge without having to go through protracted litigation."

The woman who filed the complaint will receive a majority of the money. Schmid said the woman was forced to quit because of the harassment.

The rest of the money will go to other women who were abused and additional workers who saw or heard the harassment, Schmid said.

In addition to the payments, the settlement calls for Hal Leonard to apologize to the former employee who filed the original complaint and to conduct annual anti-discrimination training for three years.

Hal Leonard was founded in 1947 in Winona and now has its corporate headquarters in Milwaukee. Along with Winona, it has offices in New York, Nashville, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The company describes itself as "the world leader in the music print industry," producing sheet music, song books and other materials for all instruments. Its more than 200,000 titles include artists such as Rodgers and Hammerstein, U2, B.B. King, the Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Kelly Clarkson.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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