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German Insurance Party II: Sales Staff Snorted Salt Not Drugs

By Robin Enos on May 31, 2011 6:47 AM

Is there another company insurance salesman would rather work for than Munich Re? So when exactly would Munich Re's Ergo unit have crossed the line into an insurance company hostile environment, with these "motivational opportunities"?

New photos have surfaced, showing Ergo insurance salesmen snorting white powder at a party in September 2010, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Ergo is the same subsidiary of reinsurance giant Munich Re we wrote about last week, regarding an orgy thrown for top insurance salesmen in 2007.

The new photos, published last week in the German tabloid Bild, show agents snorting white powder from a table top at a motivation party held on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca.

According to Munich Re, it's not what you think.

"The pictures ... show a drinking game with salt, Tequila and lemon juice... . The activities of the persons shown in the pictures published by Bild do not deal with cocaine consumption," Munich Re said in a statement reported in the Chicago Tribune.

So would the sex orgy alone, if it happened in the U.S., have qualified as "hostile environment" harassment?

Remember res ipsa loquitur from law school? To ask it another way, is a snake built close to the ground?

Hostile environment harassment occurs when employees are regularly subjected to sexual comments, offensive sexual materials, unwelcome physical contact, or derogatory and insulting comments based on an individual's sex, race, religion, national origin, age, or disability.

Generally, an isolated incident is not considered hostile environment harassment unless extremely outrageous.

Although U.S. courts look to see whether the conduct is both serious and frequent, the very fact employees must have known about a single similar party would be evidence in a U.S. court of a hostile environment.

So Ergo would be in a lot of trouble in the U.S. The sex orgy by itself seems clearly to qualify as "extremely outrageous" by U.S. standards. And the white powder party, whether salt or cocaine, looks like a developing pattern.

Ergo announced earlier this week it has cancelled a planned trip to Monaco for top executives, reports DealBreaker.com. Apparently Munich Re decided sales meetings were beginning to look too much like an insurance company hostile environment.

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