The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Cain Accuser: ‘Other Workplace Issues Had Been Making Her Unhappy’

Posted on | November 2, 2011 | 41 Comments

The New York Times:

The National Restaurant Association gave $35,000 — a year’s salary — in severance pay to a female staff member in the late 1990s after an encounter with Herman Cain, its chief executive at the time, made her uncomfortable working there, three people with direct knowledge of the payment said on Tuesday.
The woman was one of two whose accusations of sexual harassment by Mr. Cain, now a Republican candidate for president, led to paid severance agreements during his 1996-99 tenure at the association. . . .
Four people with contemporaneous knowledge of the encounter said it had taken place in the context of a work outing during which there had been heavy drinking — a hallmark, they said, of outings with an organization that represents the hospitality industry. . . .
Two of them said that other factors had been involved in her severance, and that other workplace issues had been making her unhappy at the association as well. But they said the encounter with Mr. Cain had added an emotional charge and contributed to the size of her payment. One former colleague familiar with the details said such a severance was not common, especially for an employee with the woman’s relatively short tenure and her pay grade.

The question of motive is now before us, you see: A woman is hired at a modest salary, becomes “unhappy” due to “workplace issues,” attends a work-related event where “heavy drinking” took place, had an “encounter” with the CEO that “made her uncomfortable working there” and — presto! — gets paid a full year’s salary to go away.

At this point, of course, we know nothing else about this woman and have no details of the “encounter.” We cannot judge the credibility of an anonymous accused based on the accounts of anonymous “people with contemporaneous knowledge.” However, we can consult Cornell University Law Professor William Jacobson:

Some people are acting like a $35,000 severance payment is a big deal.  Trust me, it’s not.  It’s less than the cost of defense of a case, and it avoids distractions and publicity which even a weak or false claim can bring.  Some large companies will fight these claims even if the cost of defense exceeds a possible settlement, because the company wants to send a message to the workforce that you can’t just make a claim and get a check.  But most smaller companies, and certainly a trade organization which needs good publicity, will settle quickly and quietly.  I read nothing incriminating into a $35,000 severance agreement with an employee who also had other gripes with the company in addition to the as-yet unspecified issue with Herman Cain.

A quick aside: Where did Americans get the idea that you can sue your employers because you don’t like your job or because your boss said or did something that made you “uncomfortable”? Do we have a right to happiness at work? If I hire somebody to work for me, does this decision imply a guarantee that my employee should at all times be pleased with my behavior?

I do not mean to belittle Cain’s anonymous accuser or to peremptorily dismiss the possibility that Cain engaged in genuinely offensive behavior toward this accuser, or toward the other accuser, or toward anyone else. We do not yet have enough facts to make that judgment — “Let Her Speak” — and given the “he-said, she-said” nature of such cases, it is unlikely that we will ever have any absolute certainty about it. But the fact that a short-term, low-level employee can get a full year’s salary in “go-away money” as the result of such things is profoundly troubling to me.

Throughout my career, when I became fed-up with a job, I would quit. If I didn’t quit, obviously my continued employment was more important to me than whatever unhappiness or discomfort I felt. However, I would have never dreamed of asserting a right to unearned compensation as a result of my disgruntlement at work.

Suggested reading: “Get Out or Get in Line,” by Elbert Hubbard.


41 Responses to “Cain Accuser: ‘Other Workplace Issues Had Been Making Her Unhappy’”

  1. Dianna Deeley
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

    Proof-reading alert!

    A word got left out, or otherwise misplaced: ” I obviously my continued employment was more important to me than whatever unhappiness or discomfort I felt.”

    Thought? Considered? Valued (though that requires a rewrite of the sentence (but it might be a stronger sentence thereby))?

  2. Edward
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

    Unhappiness at work??

    Mr. McCain you need to keep us commenters happy here!  Or we’ll sue.  Or something like that.

    Gin works really well btw.

    Now the question I have, and I’m frankly irritated beyond belief at having to actually pose this question; who precisely was inebriated?  Mr. Cain?  Or this woman?  I’m not casting aspersions on anybody here atm.  But I’ve seen plenty of instances where someone has a few under the belt and who will take even the most innocent words as insults.

  3. CalMark
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

    This is so damnably ridiculous.  There is no “there” there.

    Even more absurd:  that some shrill, thin-skinned harridan extortionist of questionable personal integrity, can wield such influence in a presidential election.

  4. Joe
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

    I am pretty sure Stacy is judgment proof, unless you want a lien on the KIA (aka “Deerslayer”) or the fedora of freedom. 

  5. Joe
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

    I am not sure what state this happened in.  A $35K settlement is not huge but it is not insignificant either.  It seems ridiculous, but at this point the best thing would be let it come out and see what becomes of it.  This drip drip drip is worse than just dealing with it.

  6. Steve in TN
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

    There would have been no “there” there if Cain and his staff would have addressed this professionally.  Cain put the “there” there.

    Not ready for Prime Time, folks.

  7. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

    You say that as if she asked for the influence. Thus far, the evidence seems to indicate that she did not ask for it and most likely doesn’t want it.

    She has not been identified publicly. She has not spoken publicly or, so far as we know, even off the record. Every published article on the matter draws on sources which, even if anonymous, are pretty clearly labeled “not the alleged victim.”

    We also don’t know the specifics of the allegations, or whether or not they are true.

  8. OldGrizzlyMama
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

    I don’t think most Americans believe that suing your employer because you are unhappy in your job is a viable strategy.  There IS such a thing as sexual harrasment and it IS illegal and for a good reason. The details out so far on this one looks to be pretty thin and surprised that the company didn’t fight back a bit rather than caving and paying out thousands of dollars.  Hell – when I went through it I was mentally tortured in retaliation and the company resisted all attempts to get the guy under some control.  I had witnesses – a long history of the guy doing crazy stuff – everything.  I certainly didn’t get a years worth of salary, and I left the company voluntarily.  I have had reports that the man was still up to his old tricks even after I left.

  9. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

    Heavy drinking? I wonder if that possibly had any effect on perceptions of offensive speech and mannerisms? Or the memories of anyone involved including those of “contemporaneous knowledge”? I understand the drink makes people a bit goofy in the head. Or amplifies the goofy that was already there. Is there any truth to this rumor?

    Egads, this is a whole lotta nuthin’. Who could’ve possibly predicted that from the MFM and all of the talking heads?

  10. Adjoran
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

    On related fake scandal news, guess who Michelle Bachmann just hired as consultant for South Carolina?  Wes Donehue.

    Yes, THAT Wes Donehue!

    It’s gonna get REAAAAALLY nasty up in hear, y’all!

  11. CalMark
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

    Looks like I hit a nerve with my previous post.

    From everything I’ve read, this was an angry, unhappy woman who decided to up-stakes and (speaking of “up”) upped the ante by making accusations.

    $35K is not a lot.  Remember, this was in an era when legit sexual harassment suits (what used to be called “sexual assault” and “personal harassment,” before the feminists turned everything P.C.) were getting six- to seven-figure settlements.

    As for this woman’s influence, she has it.  Just by making the claim years  ago, she has influence today.  Especially if she chooses (and she will, she will) to come out, Anita Hill-style and “tell all.”  And if she’s just another unhappy harridan this is shameful.

    I don’t believe in this stuff.  Sorry.  Everyone knew about Bill Clinton, Teddy Kennedy, etc., all of whom had long histories of disgusting, even criminal, behavior.  If the Cain accusations were so damned serious and wicked, this would all have come out long before now. 

    Lots of Cain haters here.

  12. Brobertarn
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

    Just remove the “I” and begin the sentence with “Obviously”  and the sentence makes complete sense.

  13. Finrod Felagund
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

    Michele Bachmann is being a serious optimist if she thinks she’s still going to be in the race by the time South Carolina comes around.

  14. Christy Waters
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

    The fact that we don’t know the specifics of the allegations, or whether or not they are true, in addition to the fact that we don’t know the identity of the accuser, at a time when Herman Cain is surging in the polls, is the reason why the party that should be taking the heat for this story is Politico, not Herman Cain.

    That they would so recklessly publish a story based on such flimsy evidence, is media bias with a stench! And the MSM has the nerve to wonder why they don’t wield the influence that they did 20 years ago?

    On a positive note, Herman Cain’s fundraising numbers this week should give Politico a hard, well-deserved kick in the…

  15. Adjoran
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

    Trade Associations like NRA aren’t “companies,” they have no product.  They are usually only funded by their members’ dues and assessments.  They generally cannot afford to spend a lot of legal fees on making a point, and most of them purchase insurance to cover such things (I do not know about NRA specifically on that, but being self-insured for such things isn’t for associations with limited budgets).   If that’s the case, you either let the insurance company handle it and STFU, or you release the insurer and do what you want, but without coverage. 

    Nearly everyone lets the insurance company deal with it, and for them it is a calculator function.  Nuisance suit?  Okay, you get 50% of what it would cost us to beat you in court.  That is what this sounded like to me from the beginning.

  16. American Spring
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

    According to the accuser’s attorney this settlement was resolved in a matter of days via faxes.  We ask why?  Because the accuser HAD NO CASE, so a settlement was reached.  Done end of story. 

  17. Charles
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    Q: Where did Americans get the idea that you can sue your employers because you don’t like your job or because your boss said or did something that made you “uncomfortable”?

    A: During the mid to late 1990s one would have gotten that idea from the Paula Jones lawsuit. So you can blame Ann Coulter, I guess.

  18. Dianna Deeley
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    Ah, simplicity! Wonderful stuff!

  19. Witness to Alleged Cain Harassment Comes Forward, Can’t Give Details | The Lonely Conservative
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

    […] to release her from the confidentiality agreement. That doesn’t mean details aren’t trickling out. It turns out, she was a fairly new employee and she didn’t like her job. She was paid a […]

  20. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:41 pm


    If you know what evidence Politico has, well enough to know that it is flimsy, I hope you’ll share.

    To the best of my knowledge — which I admit may be incomplete due to an inability and disinclination to follow the story 24/7 — every last factual claim made by Politico has been confirmed by none other than Herman Cain.

  21. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

    I agree with Christy. Once Politico runs the article, the people involved in the story are given “influence,” whether they want it or not. Moreover, Politio’s action made it very likely that the accusers would be exposed as public figures and would have to defend their versions of the incidents, etc. 

    One of two likely possibilities:

    A). The original accusations were bogus, the desperate and/or opportunistic actions of a disgruntled employee – i.e., a shakedown. If this is true, though, the accusers are not morally entitled, so to speak, to retain their anonymity, lack of “influence,” etc. In that sense, they did “ask for it.”

    B). The original accusations were true. In that case, though, the accusers decided to accept severance and a confidentiality agreement and forego further legal proceedings, which was a no fault agreement of sorts. The settlement was the price of avoiding a legal battle and exposing themeselves publicly, etc. Okay, so what party’s action led to that anonymity being jeopardized?

  22. Joe
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

    That is nonsense.  Cain is damned if he says anything or nothing.  It would have been nice to have a fixed story that could be issued in a press release statement and then say “no comment” but unfortunately, it is what it is. 

  23. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

    The MSM outlets are gradually ceding their status as non-combatants.

  24. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

    I felt uncomfortable attending leftwing academic institutions. Wonder if I’m eligible for severance pay?

  25. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

    That doesn’t mean it was responsible, professional journalism.

    For sake of discussion, a hypothetical question: Would it be okay if someone reported on factually true things that happened during the childhoods of people associated with Politico? If not, why not?

  26. Dianna Deeley
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

    You’re kidding, right? Because someone exposing himself and telling a woman to “kiss it” looks a heck of a lot like actual sexual harassment.

  27. Adjoran
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

    Looks like she intends to take others down with her.  No other reason to bring on that smear artist.

  28. Steve in TN
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

    In the meantime 3rd and 4th and 5th accounts have appeared. The latest at Politico involving an Iowa radio host’s staff.

  29. Adjoran
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

    Better put some ice on that lip, Sugar.

  30. ThePaganTemple
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

    After this controversy has been put to bed, there will be more, one of them likely being digging into the truth of his record at Pillsbury. In fact, it’s already started.

  31. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

    Steve, I see one very weak story (Iowa radio host). What are the 4th and 5th?

    Also, why are you obsessed with Cain?

  32. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

    Word is out….all eyes are on Team Perry.

    Of course I think the guy at the NRA is a likely source…but the evidence against Perry is smoking hot.

    Time for Cain to dump everything (i.e. every single time he looked at a woman sideways) now while Team Perry is under fire.

  33. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 5:10 pm


    I guess it depends on what you mean by “okay.”
    Should it be illegal to report on factually true things that happened during the childhoods of people associated with Politico? I don’t think it should be.

    Would it be polite to report on factually true things that happened during the childhoods of people associated with Politico? Depends. If I report that Joe Schmoe, fictional Politico correspondent, won the spelling bee at 12 or became an Eagle Scout at 17, I doubt anyone would object. If I report that his mom caught him masturbating, on the other hand, he probably wouldn’t like it much and most people would consider the reportage rude.

    News isn’t always pretty.

    News is just whatever people find interesting.

    And presumably people find it interesting that [begin recitation of facts which are not in dispute] the employer of a two-time candidate for President of the United States paid off two women to hush up claims that he sexually harassed them, right before he launched his previous presidential campaign [end recitation of facts which are not in dispute], interesting.

  34. Steve in TN
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

    Why do you kick your dog?

    3rd is another woman at NRA, 4th is an account on KTOK…

  35. Steve in TN
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 5:16 pm
  36. AMartel
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

    Legalized extortion:  Here’s a donation to go away and lie no more.

  37. CalMark
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

    “Why do you kick your dog?”

    Wow.  There’s a response.  What intellect!  What argument skills!

    I’ve looked at your Twitter posts.  Chaos and incoherence. 

  38. Zilla of the Resistance
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

    So she didn’t like her job, and then got drunk, and THEN got ‘offended’. Smells like BS to me.
    In related news, the bitches are coming out of the woodwork now, a 3rd ANONYMOUS female says that Herman offended her back when the other anonymous bitches were suing, and she THOUGHT ABOUT complaining then but for some reason didn’t and decided to wait a dozen or so years before bringing it up to an AP reporter who COULD just be making shit up. Hoft has the ‘scoop’, but it should be noted that Gateway Pundit is pro-Perry (though not vicious like the rest of the Perryists):
    Also, the post was updated to say that Herman Cain suspects team Perry  of causing all of this hullabaloo.
    I stand by my original assessment that nothing that comes out of the journOlist Obama shilling rag Politico about any conservative is worth a tinker’s damn. I hope voters are smart enough to see this transparent ploy to take Herman Cain down as the big heaping stinking pile of crap that it is.

  39. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 6:10 pm

    Steve, the difference is I’ve seen you kicking the dog. Around here, that’s all you seem to do. Do you have anything else to contribute?  

  40. AngelaTC
    November 3rd, 2011 @ 12:10 am

    We’re not talking about Cain’s childhood. 

  41. AngelaTC
    November 3rd, 2011 @ 12:18 am

    I don’t get it. Guys seem to act like this crap never happens in the office, while I’ll bet every woman who’s worked outside the home knows that most offices have at least one pervert in the ranks.   And for some reason, like GrizzlyMama experienced, management almost always close ranks and protect their own, no matter how outrageous (and repeated) the behaviors.   

    I have no idea what Cain said or did to whom, but I think it’s best to wait for the story to play out before passing judgments.