Harassment in The Workplace and Termination

According to a recent news report from the Los Angeles Times, 20 employees were terminated as part of the harassment investigation involving a ride sharing company.  The company has been facing a lot of bad press lately.  The chief executive resigned following what was interpreted as a sexist joke at a board meeting, and there have been various hostile work environment accusations that have led the company to undertake two separate harassment investigations.

employment discrimination LAFormer Attorney General Eric Holder, who is now a partner at a law firm that the company hired for this reason, was directing one of these investigations.  The other investigation has a much narrower focus and is being led by another large law firm.These firing are believed to be based on the findings of the second law firm.  As it turns out, there were around 215 complaints of harassment submitted to the company, and there was specific action taken with respect to 100 of these complaints.  Many of the complaints are still being investigated to see if the alleged conduct can be substantiated.  If it can be, action will be taken, and if not, the complaints will be dismissed.

As our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, employers have a responsibility to take reasonably necessary steps to provide a workplace that is free from hostility and harassment. This doesn’t mean that if you are harassed, you will always have a case, but there are many circumstances where you will. For example, if you were harassed by a supervisor or manager, your employer will likely be held liable.  This is under what is known as a theory of strict liability. The employer is simply liable because the law places a higher responsibility with respect to supervisory personnel.

With respect to the ride sharing case, the company has more than 12,000 employees, and the sexual harassment matters have started to cause them business problems, as competitors have not had a problem as far as the general public is concerned.  Essentially, the company is making a bigger deal about responding to complaints and getting to the source of the problems, and now there is what is referred to as bad optics in the business world.

While 20 employees may not seem like a lot considering there are 12,000 employees, from a risk management standpoint, investors and industry experts consider this an unprecedented number of terminations at a single time.  The company has taken this action before releasing the report by Holder and the other company to the public.  They are required to make such a public release, because they are a publicly traded company, and investors have a legal right to know.

One employee who made a claim of harassment said that, while working as a software engineer, a manager was making inappropriate sexual advances towards her.  She recorded copies of electronic correspondence and claims that there was no action taken.  She also said she was told it was his first offense, so they couldn’t take action, which, if true, is an improper response.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

Uber fires 20 workers after harassment investigation, June 6, 2017, By Tracey Lien, Los Angeles Times

More Blog Entries:

Uber Investigating Sexual Harassment Claims by Engineer, March 25, 2017, Orange County Sexual Harassment Lawyer Blog