Articles Posted in sexual harassment

In light of increased awareness of sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace, investigations and policysexual harassment revisions are happening all over the country. One congresswoman is sounding the alarm in the Department of Veterans Affairs in particular after survey numbers showed reports of sexual harassment there were higher than average across departments in the federal government. Of female respondents, 26 percent said they had experienced sexual harassment, and 14 percent of male respondents between 2014 and 2016, according to a report from Stars and Stripes. In fact, VA respondents reported the highest rates of sexual harassment, with Department of Homeland Security coming in second. This compares to 21 percent of women and 9 percent of men across federal departments as a whole. The survey collected data on a variety of behaviors, ranging from teasing to stalking and sexual assault. Gender harassment led the survey in reported incidents, with unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion following behind.

Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH), ranking Democrat on the Veterans’s Affairs subcommittee on oversight and investigations, has called on the chairman of the subcommittee to hold a congressional oversight hearing on the matter. Her response came on the heels of findings being released by the Merit Systems Protection Board, an independent group that is housed within the executive branch whose mission is to protect the rights of government workers.  Continue reading

Not only is sexual harassment in the workplace illegal, but it also is costing a significant amount of money. Thesexual harassment influx of reports of sexual misconduct has led journalists and investigators to dig into the scope of these behaviors. What they have found is a trail of monetary payoffs and cover-ups over the years that have kept accusers silent and cost states and businesses a sizeable amount of money. California, despite having many protections, may be one of the biggest offenders.

The News Journal in Delaware recently revealed sexual misconduct payoffs over the past decade cost the state $663,000, plus the costs of litigation. Cases were filed alleging sexual harassment, misconduct, and discrimination across a variety of departments. Totals in other states varied pretty widely. Florida tallied $11 million in settlements, but that was over a 30-year period. Investigations in New York revealed at least $5 million in payouts from 2008-2010. Continue reading

Time’s Up, an organization that has made a mission of creating a safe work environment for women of all kinds, is changing the sexual harassmentlandscape for sexual harassment lawsuits in the country. Thanks to generous donations from celebrities and regular citizens alike, the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund has a pool flagged for subsidizing employee lawsuits. Recently the group backed 10 former and current McDonald’s employees who filed complaints against the company for sexual harassment, according to a Fortune article.

The 10 women worked for franchisees in seven states, and both the franchisee owners and parent company McDonald’s Corp. were named in the complaints, recently filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Accusations include groping, indecent exposure, inappropriate comments, and sexual propositions. In addition, women alleged when they reported the incidents, they faced ridicule and sometimes retaliation afterward. Continue reading

A recent survey from Association of Flight Attendants has revealed some disturbing statistics about sexual harassment in the field. sexual harassmentAccording to the survey, 68 percent of respondents said they have experienced sexual harassment during their career. Even when isolated to just the past year, 35 percent reported verbal harassment and 20 percent physical harassment. This is a significant jump over a nationwide poll, which shows 38 percent of respondents experienced workplace harassment in their careers, according to an SF Gate report. The survey that addressed all women, released by Stop Street Harassment, Raliance, and Center on Gender Equity and Health, showed 81 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment in general, whether inside or outside the workplace.

This could explain why the number is much higher for flight attendants than other workers. In other work environments, workers are often interacting with other employees. There is more oversight and potential consequence for sexual harassment. Employees see each other every day, so there is no anonymity. If the company acts with integrity, there are strict rules and prevention strategies already in place. Even with all of those factors, a shocking number of people still face harassment. But on an airplane, attendants are interacting with strangers every day. They are in tight quarters and sometimes serving drinks to guests. Not to mention, flight attendants have long been sexualized in media and advertising, adding fuel to the fire of people who think they are entitled to harass others. Continue reading

The story of sexual harassment in the workplace has been around since the beginning of workplaces. Yet, this past year has seen ansexual harassment explosion of accusations, resignations, and renewed policies thanks to the #MeToo Movement. People, particularly women, who once felt too vulnerable to speak up against sexual misconduct have been emboldened. These new voices have exposed a tragic pattern in workplaces across the country, and in doing so have revealed possibly the most vulnerable group of all workers: teenagers.

A Wall Street Journal report recently uncovered the concerns many parents face sending their teenagers into the workplace as the season for summer jobs is upon us. The fact that so many people are talking about sexual harassment in the workplace, which has led to stricter policies and more accountability, could lend some protection to teenagers who are starting their first jobs. However, our experienced employment attorneys know change takes time, and the problem is far from being solved.

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It seems wherever there is a law to protect employees from harassment in the workplace, there is another law that harassers will try tosexual harassment exploit to silence their victims. State legislators are looking to tie up some of those loopholes to continue the momentum created by the #MeToo Movement. Their mission is to encourage employees to report wrongdoing without fear of repercussions and also give employers more freedom to side with and protect victims. 

AB-2770, introduced by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), would expand the information a former employer is allowed to disclose to a prospective employer to include sexual harassment allegations. Current law allows a prospective employer to ask a representative from the candidate’s previous place of employment if the company would re-hire that person if given the opportunity. The new bill would allow the former employer to cite, without malice, accusations of sexual harassment with credible evidence as the reason they would not hire back an employee. It also provides protection to employees from retaliatory defamation lawsuits in response to formal harassment accusations being filed. This would set a standard that would allow accusers and employers the freedom to discuss credible allegations more freely. Continue reading

We’ve heard all too many stories since the emergence of the #MeToo movement about women who wanted to come forward with theirwhistleblower attorneys accounts of workplace sexual misconduct, but their companies had created loopholes that made it nearly impossible or too risky to go public. One former Uber employee is kicking down some of those barriers and working alongside the California Assembly to make it happen.

The former Uber engineer drew national attention when she previously wrote a blog post about alleged sexual harassment and questionable practices within the company, according to Tech Crunch. Her courage to speak up led to the resignation of Uber’s then CEO last summer. Now the ex-employee is supporting a bill that will help women in situations like hers to be able to seek public legal action. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales Fletcher (D-San Diego) introduced AB-3080, a bill that addresses one of the major ways companies try to silence internal complaints: forced arbitration.

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The story of Harvey Weinstein and the mass accusations against him of sexual misconduct has been in the news for almost six months, and in that time it has set the sexual harassmenttone for the #metoo movement and a wave of new sexual harassment policies bursting forth around the country. And now there’s potential for more people to be able to speak up again the former Hollywood producer. Weinstein Co. recently filed bankruptcy, with plans for a sale in the wings, while the board also released any non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) put into place between employees and Harvey Weinstein.

A former assistant of Weinstein has been sharing more about the NDAs as part of efforts to help curb workplace misconduct in the future, according to a report from Deadline. She told a UK parliamentary committee that employees were pressured into signing NDAs. She alleges vague threats made to her and others if they chose to speak out against alleged sexual violation committed by Weinstein. Part of why she agreed to sign the NDA, she said, was the inclusion of clauses that would keep Weinstein accountable for his actions in the future. However, she said that portion of the agreement was largely ignored. The assistant first broke her NDA last fall shortly after stories about Weinstein sparked conversations about whether non-disclosure agreements should be enforced against workers who suffered sexual harassment or exploitation. Continue reading

While the #metoo movement is shining a spotlight on sexual harassment and the dark corners of Hollywood, sexual harassmentan increasing number of civil sexual assault cases are being filed, some against former supervisors, co-workers and the institutions that protected them when they owed a duty of care to the victim.

Here in California, one former agent is battling a civil lawsuit filed by a former client alleging sexual battery and sexual harassment. The agent has asked the Los Angeles Superior Court to stay the civil case until the statute of limitations expires on the criminal case, arguing that to proceed and participate in the civil case could result in self-incrimination leading to serious felony charges, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Defendant (through his attorney) vehemently denied the allegations. Of the request to stay, his attorney explained the civil complaint read like criminal charges and  discovery requests made additional claims of criminal behavior, causing concern that testimony during the lawsuit could bring about formal charges.

This underscores the fact that many civil lawsuits may coincide with criminal charges, and while these are two totally separate processes operating independently of another (and sometimes with very different outcomes), there are times when one may have an impact on the other. A good employment law attorney will do everything possible to keep your case moving when that is in your best interests.

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In a climate where claims of sexual harassment are continually coming to the surface and stories of police wrongdoing are constantly in the news, it is refreshing to seesexual harassment people honored who have fought to protect their rights and maintain their values.

The Asbury Park-Neptune Chapter of NAACP in New Jersey recently honored two female members of the local police officers who twice filed lawsuits as a result of sexual harassment and race discrimination they allege was taking place in their police department, according to App. Long before the New York Times‘ Harvey Weinsten expose or the popularity of #MeToo on social media, these two women were standing up when it would have been so much easier to buckle under the pressure.

Their story begins in 2013 when the two reported repeated sexual harassment and discrimination. One of the plaintiffs claim a lewd magnet was stuck to her car and in a separate instance a crass message was place on her car, a vehicle she used to visit the local high school. She also alleges that she was repeatedly not given the resources she needed to properly serve the high school, such as active shooter training and access to a tactical vehicle, both of which were given to a male resource officer for the school. Plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit instances of inappropriate conversations about pornography and personal sex lives, and crude gestures.

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