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Sexual harassment

Bum Steer busted

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On Lyndsay Stover's first day of work as a bartender at the Bum Steer Bar, Cafe and Casino in Florence, tavern owner Jay Wilson told her that she should wear more revealing clothing. "Tits equal tips," he said.

On April 23, 2012, Stover, who was a University of Montana graduate student at the time, filed a complaint with the Human Rights Bureau alleging that Wilson and the Bum Steer sexually harassed her and, in doing so, unlawfully discriminated based on sex.

Last month, the HRB issued a scathing 70-page report summarizing findings from its investigation into Stover's complaint. After interviewing 24 people, including employees and bar owners, the agency found multiple incidents of "verbal and physical harassment" against Stover. To compensate for the unlawful discrimination and the emotional distress Stover experienced during her five months of work at the bar, the HRB ordered the Bum Steer to pay Stover $100,000. The tavern must also pay Stover an additional $19,000 for lost wages and the costs of future psychiatric therapy sessions.

"It was an awful experience for her," says Elizabeth Clark, Stover's Missoula attorney.

Stover told a HRB hearings examiner that the harassment intensified after her first day. At one point in 2012, according to HRB findings, "Jay Wilson followed Stover into the ice storage area, spun her around, reached inside her shirt, exposed her breast and placed his mouth on it. Stover pushed him away and told him she did not like what he was doing. Jay Wilson said 'Oh yes you do.'"

Stover told the HRB hearings examiner that Wilson's behavior left her constantly uneasy and upset. "I would tell him, 'I don't like this. I don't know why you are doing this,'" Stover said.

Wilson declined to comment on Stover's claims or the HRB's findings.

On behalf of Stover, Clark says that, because they believe Wilson has subjected other women to similar harassment, she and her client are especially pleased by the agency's decision. "She was not the only one that experienced this," Clark says.

In addition to the financial award, the HRB is mandating the Bum Steer adopt new sexual harassment policies that will be overseen by an independent investigator. Wilson must also undergo 16 hours of sexual discrimination law training within the next six months.

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