An online complaint of sexual harassment endured by workers at art gallery fundraisers that has garnered a groundswell of support, the San Diego Union-Tribune recently reported. Submitted to Change.org as a signature drive, a former attendant at the San Diego Museum of Art alleged the organization routinely hosts booze-fueled fundraisers wherein guests feel free to grope female workers. Rather than protecting their employees, the complaint alleges, officials at the museum blamed staff and refused to consider adoption of policies that would stop them from being subjected to sexual harassment and abuse on-the-job. It seemed the concerns of women of color in particular were outright dismissed.
The complainant reported that they should not have to feel unsafe coming to work as, “We are not nightclub workers.”
Of course, it’s the position of our Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys that no worker should feel unsafe coming to work for fear of sexual harassment – whether that workplace is in a nightclub, restaurant, office, airplane, tomato field or art museum.
The petition, which garnered hundreds of signatures as of this writing, demands an apology, an independent investigation of executives and formal change of policy. Until that happens, the petition urges a public boycott.
The Union-Tribune reported the executive director had a written comment vowing the organization would hire an independent investigator to look into the claims. She insisted the safety of staffers is of supreme importance, and said protocols are in place at numerous levels to shield workers from sexual harassment.
The museum reportedly holds training four times a year for management to know how to identify and report sexual harassment. It should be underscored that no lawsuit formally alleging these things has been filed against the museum.
The complainant said discrimination did not stop with sexual harassment, but further carried over to hiring decisions. Women of color were rarely promoted or treated equally to their White counterparts, the petition said, despite the organization paying “a lot of lip service to progress.”
In figures released by the museum, it noted 75 percent of its leadership is White, as is 57 percent of its board. It employs about 170 people and raises/spends more than $10 million annually, according to tax records.
But as our employment discrimination lawyers can explain, numbers alone doesn’t necessarily prove or disprove discriminatory conduct (though they can be used as evidence of systematic discrimination). Courts will look at specific instances of passing over qualified, minority, female workers for positions in favor of White or male counterparts.
As for sexual harassment, it’s true there are some careers wherein workers have been made to feel that enduring some degree of sexual harassment or abuse is just “how it is.” The law views it much differently. No worker should be made to feel that sexual harassment is part of the job, or fear that they’ll face retaliation or be fired if they speak out about. If you find yourself in this situation, an experienced employment attorney can offer a free consultation to examine your claim and help you determine your legal options.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
San Diego Museum of Art accused of tolerating sexual harassment, racial inequity, April 24, 2021, By Jeff McDonald, The San Diego Union-Tribune