Though he and his businesses have packed their bags and left California, they cannot escape the recent settlement of a lawsuit here. Though Lee William “Bill” McNutt and his investment firm and direct mail company have departed the state, they will still have to pay $1.8 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit.
McNutt was accused by the female employee of repeatedly harassing her on business trips in 2017. She was at that time the vice president for operations and communications for the companies. McNutt was accused of touching her under her clothing without her consent.
In one alleged incident, he exposed himself to her in a hotel room while they were attending a company conference in southern California, and then touched her without consent.
Her employment law attorney sent McNutt a complaint outlining his California employment law violations, stating that she should be placed on paid leave. She was fired, however, in June 2018.
A spokesman for McNutt called the harassment lawsuit “baseless.” Of course, many readers will find the use of that term odd for someone who has just agreed to pay $1.8 million to settle a suit. The spokesperson tried to explain the contradiction from McNutt and the companies’ (Silicon Valley Growth Syndicate and International Direct Mail Consultants, Inc.) co-owners: “in light of the current gender discrimination environment, they ultimately opted to spare their family and friends from the ongoing stress that defending the suit brought and agreed to this settlement.”
More than money
The settlement includes more than the substantial financial compensation, including an agreement that McNutt can no longer hire students from Southern Methodist University, the school where the woman had been a student.
McNutt also went to school there. He was banned from the SMU campus in 2009 in response to complaints about him by female students.
The California lawsuit settlement also bars McNutt from videotaping or photographing women and girls unrelated to him.
Please remember what the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that sexual harassment can include “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”