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Sep-21-2009 22:28printcomments

BOLI Commissioner Awards $127,713 in Sex Harassment Case

Ashland employer created hostile workplace, fired employee for asking that it stop.

Sexual harassment

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian has issued a final order in the sexual harassment case against From the Wilderness, Inc. (FTWI) and Michael Ruppert of Ashland.

In addition to awarding lost wages, Comm. Avakian ordered $125,000 in mental and emotional suffering damages paid to Lindsay Gerken for the workplace harassment and retaliation she suffered during her less than three months of employment at FTWI. The damage award reflects the egregious conduct of Ruppert as well as the reinvigoration of civil rights enforcement by Commissioner Avakian.

“BOLI conducts unbiased, third-party investigations of the complaints we receive,” said Commissioner Avakian. “But when the investigation finds substantial evidence of a law violation, we will vigorously pursue justice. In this case, BOLI’s investigation discovered compelling evidence that fully justifies this damage award.”

Gerken filed a complaint alleging sexual harassment by Ruppert during her employment with FTWI and for retaliation for terminating her after she refused his advances. Amid a continuing pattern of harassment that began shortly after Gerken’s hire, the most startling incident occurred when Ruppert came to Gerken’s office door wearing only his underwear and a smile. Explicitly invited to engage in a sexual relationship with Ruppert on a Friday, Gerken declined and was terminated the following week.

BOLI will not allow employers to ignore fundamental protections for workers rights,” Commissioner Avakian continued. “Sexual harassment of this magnitude is a brazen violation of the law and the damages ordered here will clearly show BOLI’s commitment to aggressively enforcing the law.”

At the time the harassment and retaliation occurred, Lindsay Gerken was 25 years old and just beginning her professional career. Michael Ruppert was in his mid-50s and a “celebrity” investigative journalist in the literary community surrounding “peak oil” and sustainability. He publishes From the Wilderness magazine and a blog on current events under the same title.

The Bureau of Labor and Industries defends the rights of workers and citizens to equal, nondiscriminatory treatment in workplaces, housing and public accommodations and encourages and enforces compliance with state laws relating to wages, hours, terms and conditions of employment. The bureau also partners with business and labor organizations to build a skilled workforce in Oregon and trains employers to understand and comply with civil rights and other labor and employment laws.

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CarlTeuber June 22, 2010 8:13 pm (Pacific time)

He is still able to operate a business because your sorry excuse for a state badly requires any economic investment possible. Regardless of if its from a paranoid, delusional, megalomaniac or not. But serious I kid; thanks for the back and forth banter guys. Great late night stoned gibberish.

Tom Pain April 4, 2010 10:35 pm (Pacific time)

lol! Good Show "approving" free speech too! Remember this much?: "the defense of free speech is not there to defend harmless speech". or read a bit Voltaire again... not to mention all the basic principles of democracy and freedom to gather and discuss openly..

Tom Paine April 4, 2010 10:27 pm (Pacific time)

Well this is convenient. If the FBI or any government agency wanted to discredit anyone this would be the way to do it. This page comes up and blammo: 3-4 "witnesses" show up immediately to "bear witness" and pretend they can sure up the allegations. I would _never_ make judgements on people for scenes I did NOT participate in, or make judgement on the veracity of allegations. How convenient that all is so easily available. How fast the jokers showed up to provide all the "details". You guys are a bunch of effing government shills me thinks. Me thinks not that thee protests too much, you're just too eager to agree and back up all the crap. I've never seen tarslingers prop up as fast as this in my life! Mr. Ruppert had a large following: _Nothing_ positive? I guess it's true it IS damn near impossible to defend against smear campaigns. I guess that is why the republicans never fail to use it.

Barry September 30, 2009 8:41 am (Pacific time)

I have been a acquainted with Mike Ruppert since 2002. He stayed with my wife and I for two weeks in 2006. I agree with Lisa that he has a sense of humor that others might not appreciate, but during the time he was with us he was a respectful guest (and kept his room neat as a pin, to boot).

LindaLou September 29, 2009 8:24 am (Pacific time)

There are 79 pages of lurid detail and evidence posted by Oregon on the net. Explicit 79-page 9/16/09 Final Order is at--- Index page for this decision at--- Oregon Labor Commissioner's press release states --- This decision contains astonishing evidence. It includes the full text of a long memo Ruppert wrote to Gerken, which he signed When the FTW office was vandalized and raw eggs thrown at Ruppert's house, he told the police it was Gerken. Later he claimed it was the CIA in an article on the FTW blog---

Uh hello September 25, 2009 10:40 pm (Pacific time)

I used to work for Mike. This guy was not only narcissistic but was actually DID harass his female employees. In fact, almost all of his staff actually quit - out of self dignity. One more thing... she wasn't the only one who got 'harassed' by him. The rest were just happy to take off and not be found again... as they were intimidated by his bravado and ego.

david September 24, 2009 9:11 pm (Pacific time)

Where can I read about the "compelling evidence" found by BOLI? Brad Avakian, isn't he running for office? It would be a good time for him to perform some political I'm interested in seeing the evidence.

Lisa September 22, 2009 4:19 pm (Pacific time)

I have known Mr. Ruppert personally for many years and I seriously doubt Ms Gerken's allegations. He has an off-color sense of humor at times that might offend the over-sensitive. But the idea of unsolicited sexual advances seem out of character, I can't imagine it. If anyone cares to read her official statement, she says that he made her feel uncomfortable with flirtatious remarks, but that she continued to work alone with him on late evenings, discussed pornography with him, and even asked him to rub in aloe vera gel when she had a sunburn. I take sexual harassment seriously, but this woman's story seems off to me.

scott September 22, 2009 1:18 pm (Pacific time)

Was there ever any proof of Ms. Gerken's allegations? The article makes no mention of that. Nor does the article offer the defendant an opportunity to rebut the claims (regradless of the verdict).

Dave September 22, 2009 9:36 am (Pacific time)

Why is this clown still allowed to operate a business in Oregon?

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