Articles Posted in sexual harassment

A state-mandated project to track sexual harassment and gender discrimination in California government is slated to start in January 2020 – finally. Our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers know that not only will that make it a year late, but also long overdue. sexual harassment lawyer

The $1.5 million project was supposed to have already been underway this year, making 2019 the first year officials would have data on what we know to be a pervasive problem.

Under the previous state administration, the project was outlined as a meaningful first step toward addressing allegations of government-employee harassment and discrimination based on gender. The initiative was spurred in the midst of the #MeToo movement – at a time when more than 140 women working for the state government signed an open letter detailing their experiences with workplace sexual harassment.

Those included:

  • A California State Corrections Officer who, along with numerous other female corrections officers, were ignored when reporting constant indecent exposure and sexual harassment at work. When the CO wrote up an inmate for indecent exposure one week, nothing was done and she was brutally attacked by that same inmate while working without her partner one day. Officers later found numerous drawings of the C.O. in sexually explicit and violent poses in the inmate’ cell.
  • A state Highway Patrol field officer sexually harassed for months by another officer while supervisors did nothing to respond.
  • A state pollution control employee raped by a supervisor.

They are among 10 sexual harassment plaintiffs to whom The Sacramento Bee reported the state had paid some $25 million over the course of three years just to settle claims. Continue reading

Last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission secured the first budget increase nearly a decade, with $16 million allocated by Congress to allow the agency more resources to focus on claims of workplace sexual harassment. California sexual harassment attorneys in Orange County recognize this is at least partially the reason the agency is now reporting an uptick in sexual harassment claims in the last year. sexual harassment lawyer

Preliminary statistics as of October 2019 indicate claims of job-related sexual harassment and gender discrimination rose sharply last fiscal year, which ended in September.

There is more to it, though. The #MeToo movement that has swept the country in recent years amid revelations of numerous, high-profile executives, politicians, celebrities and media members were repeatedly accused of patterns of sexual harassment and abuse. The fact that several corporations were found to be complicit in concealing such occurrences revealed the obstacles accusers faced for many years. So it’s not that we’re seeing an increase in people being sexually harassed at work, but rather improved awareness, earlier reporting and more thorough investigations.

By the Numbers: EEOC Reports Uptick in Sexual Harassment Claims

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A bill that would have expanded California sexual harassment training for janitorial companies and their uniquely vulnerable workers was vetoed by the governor, who urged sponsoring lawmakers to give the state and employers more time to fully implement the 2016 janitorial worker sexual harassment legislation, which is still getting off the ground.Los Angeles sexual harassment

Approval of AB 2079 would have meant that required janitorial firms provide sexual harassment training for supervisors and employees that would extend far beyond watching a boiler-plate video and signing a form. They’d hear from actual survivors of sexual abuse and sexual harassment in the California janitorial industry. They would also be given encouragement and more information on their legal options to hold abusers and workplaces accountable.

Although some of the most highly-publicized accounts of sexual assault and sexual harassment spurred the #metoo and #TimesUp began have been told by employers in elite industries (proving sexual harassment and abuse are pervasive everywhere), Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys and other worker advocates know janitorial workers, agricultural employees, home health care and hospitality workers are at high risk. The primary risk factor is power disparity between victim and abuser. Women, those earning low wages, people of color, immigrants – all of these individuals start off at higher risk. Immigrants especially can face language and cultural barriers that can lead to fear of deportation, cultural barriers and a misunderstanding of their rights and what will happen if these offenses are reported. Now factor in the isolation, overnight shifts and lack of regulatory oversight that are so integral to the industry, and it’s not hard to see why these employees are at such high risk for abuse. Continue reading

Workers who’ve suffered California sexual harassment will now have a number of new state-level protections in place as of next year, including:

  • An end to employer-imposed secrecy and non-disclosure agreements that silence victims and protect abusers (victims may still choose to keep their own identify protected);
  • An attempt to end the so-called “one free grope” standard confirmed by the 9th Circuit federal court 18 years ago (stemming from the “severe or pervasive” legal standard set forth in California’s sexual harassment statute);
  • Mandated sexual harassment training increased to twice annually for all California employees.Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney

Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys have been watching these efforts move down the legislative pipeline (along with a few others, including the highly-controversial AB 3080, which would have banned mandatory arbitration agreements as a condition of employment, which failed when voted by Gov. Jerry Brown). The good news the passage of these new measures at least provide a solid foundation for harassed, abused and exploited workers to have adequate means of protection and reprisal.

Each measure goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Continue reading

A bill that would have outlawed California mandatory workplace arbitration agreements was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown, who signed a number of #metoo -inspired laws but soundly rejected this one. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego,  AB 3080 would have barred companies from mandating employees sign arbitration agreements – forgoing their right to judicial remedy in the event of a dispute – as a required condition of employment. Riverside sexual harassment lawyers at The Nassiri Law Group were skeptical of the bill’s chances, particularly given that Brown had vetoed a similar measure three years ago. California employer arbitration lawyer

Although supporters of the measure aren’t wrong in noting that forced workplace arbitration agreements effectively silence workers who are legitimately victimized while shielding harassers and abusers, the unfortunate reality is that both the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court have time and again ruled that employers can lawfully require employees to sign arbitration agreements in which they waive the right to take a claim for sexual harassment or other employee rights issue before a judge and jury.

The U.S. Supreme Court Bolstered Employer Protections Precluding AB 3080

One of the most recent of those cases weighed by the U.S. Supreme Court was Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, decided in May. The court was asked to interpret two federal laws – the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 and the Federal Arbitration Act in 1925. Specifically, the latter contains a provision stating that any contract (employment or otherwise) that contains a provision requiring arbitration instead of litigation to resolve disputes is to be considered valid and enforceable unless there are legal or equity grounds on which to deem the contract invalid. The NLRA meanwhile allows workers the right to self-organize, form, join or assist in organized labor and to engage in collective bargaining.

So the question was whether a no-group arbitration clause, in violating portions of the NLRA, provides for legal grounds to prohibit employer-imposed mandatory arbitration agreements.  Continue reading

Gender discrimination and sexual harassment attorneys in California know women who work in federal prisons housing male inmates tend to go into the job expecting they will be targeted for unwanted attention from the resident populace. This isn’t to say such behavior is tolerable, but it’s the reason these workers wear over-sized uniforms, slick their hair into tight buns, do almost everything possible to hide any trace of femininity. But worse than abuse they face from the inmates, they told The New York Times and detailed in gender discrimination lawsuit depositions, is the fact their male colleagues encourage this behavior – and even participate in it. On more than one occasion, this has resulted not only in a hostile workplace, but an extremely dangerous one. Further, they allege that when these incidents are reported, they face retaliation, including blackballing and termination, the male colleagues who harass them reportedly rise in their field.sexual harassment attorney

Our Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys are aware of cases wherein female prison workers have been groped, taunted daily, subjected to incessant inmate masturbation and threatened with rape. Anytime they reported this, the women say, their supervisors downplayed it, encouraged them to “let it go.” Once when a female worker refused, she said her supervisors required her to undergo an unwanted medical exam that required her to expose her breasts in front of a colleague. In another case, a case manager was reportedly raped by an inmate. When the 24-year employee reported it, she was criminally charged with raping her attacker. She was later acquitted by a jury, but her retirement savings was depleted for her defense fund and her daughter had to drop out of college because she couldn’t afford it.

This isn’t the first time abuses of female prison employees have come to light. In 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a stunning report, indicating sexual harassment and retaliation claims were not only unusually high within the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, but also that they were routinely mishandled. And this is not a small problem, given that more than 10,000 women work within the federal prison system. Women who have lodged complaints say they have been essentially blocked from any future in the corrections system – even when their claims prevail. This is evidenced by the fact that a Congressional oversight committee last year learned that prisons were continuing to grant high-level administrators huge bonuses, even though the complaints regarding sexual harassment were pervasive, the handling of them clearly unlawful. Continue reading

Educational institutions that receive federal funding – including colleges and universities – are bound by federal mandate (specifically, Title IX) to both report incidents of sexual violence and to track patterns of sexual assault, sexual misconduct and other behaviors that may result in a hostile working or educational environment for women – which impacts not only their physical safety and mental/ emotional health, but frequently their financial status and career prospects.sexual harassment attorney Los Angeles

Yet our L.A. sexual harassment attorneys have women on campus victimized time and again – students, adjunct professors, graduate assistants, tenured professors, deans. Universities not only fail to protect them, but in some cases further victimize them with poor policy and failure to follow the law, spurring more than a few California Title IX lawsuits in recent years.

The process by which higher education institutions handle these claims has come under scrutiny as the Trump administration and the U.S. Education Department, headed by Betsy DeVos, has proposed a new set of official policy rules on sexual assault and harassment. As The New York Times reported, if the rules become law, the result will be:

  • Narrower definition of sexual harassment;
  • School accountability allowable only when alleged conduct occurs on campus and only when formal complaints are filed first through proper authorities;
  • Heightened standard for legal standard that defines whether schools acted appropriately (no longer “preponderance of the evidence in determining suspension or expulsion, but rather the evidentiary standard of the school’s choice);
  • Compelling an informal mediation resolution process.

Meanwhile, more of these claims are filed almost every day. Continue reading

In many ways, our Rancho Cucamonga employment attorneys understand we cannot address the rampant problem of sexual harassment in the workplace without also addressing retaliation. That’s because historically – and even often today – exposure of harassment, assault and other bad behavior almost always has consequences for victims and allies alike. We refer to these as “retaliation” because they are acts taken by the employer or management as “punishment” for bringing the wrongdoing to light. sexual harassment lawyer Rancho Cucamonga

This is part of what is alleged in a recent Rancho Cucamonga sexual harassment lawsuit, filed by numerous young female workers say they were targeted for gender-based harassment – and then retaliated against when they reported it. This is according to a California employment lawsuit filed by the Equal Opportunity Commission against Del Taco chain restaurant, as the Daily Bulletin reports.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the sexual harassment and retaliation claim asserts that the fast food chain broke federal law firstly when no fewer than three male workers (including at least two in supervisor positions, such as shift leader) targeted plaintiffs with sexual comments and physical touching that were both unwanted and inappropriate. These incidents occurred at a single restaurant dating back to at least 2014, and many of the female workers who suffered these episodes at work were minors at the time, according to the complaint. Continue reading

The future of California sexual harassment lawsuits hangs in the balance, as the public is closely monitoring word of Governor Jerry Brown’s decision whether to sign the controversial AB 3080. The bill would result in direct impact to workplace harassment and gender discrimination claims by impeding an employer’s ability to limit disclosure and discussion of such agreements with mandatory arbitration agreements signed as a condition of employment.

As our L.A. sexual harassment attorneys recognize, the bill if passed would amend a portion of California Labor Code (specifically adding a Section 432.4) outlawing forced arbitration agreements barring job-seekers (employees or independent contractors) from speaking out publicly or pursuing civil court remedy agL.A. sexual harassment attorneyainst employers who fail to protect them from sexual harassment or gender discrimination. (The bill doesn’t specifically use the term “arbitration agreements,” but those policies are what is targeted and would be affected.)

Some have argued that what’s in the bill is already largely covered within provisions already existing in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which is the state’s anti-retaliation law shielding employees from retaliation if they have a reasonable belief of victimization from unlawful employment practices. Others say the bill, if passed, will be widely open to judicial challenge. In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Perry v. Thomas (and again in 2011 with AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion) that the Federal Arbitration Act requires arbitration contracts generally be on equal footing with other types of contracts and that state law can’t interfere with federal policy.  Continue reading

Another man in a position of prominence in the entertainment industry has been accused of multiple counts of sexual harassment. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer ofsexual harassment CBS Corp., Les Moonves, has been accused by six women of multiple acts of sexual misconduct and retaliation after the women spoke out, according to an investigative report in The New Yorker. Other employees also came forward describing a culture within the network that allegedly regularly protected men who were accused of sexual misdeeds while paying off their accusers.

The women described a pattern of abuses beginning in the 1980s through the past decade, all with similar notes. Several alleged Moonves touched them inappropriately or forcibly kissed them during business meetings. A couple were threatened to play nice or it would mean their careers. All reported life becoming more difficult after they rejected the executive’s advances, with his hostile behavior affecting their careers either by them getting fired or their job trajectory being derailed.

The accusations are part of the ongoing wave of the #MeToo movement, which has been crashing on the shores of American businesses over the past year. This was seen most notably with the story of Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood producer accused of a long-running pattern of sexual misconduct toward women who worked with him in the movie industry. In addition to several criminal charges filed against Weinstein, he finds himself at the bottom of a growing pile of lawsuits related to his alleged behavior. Continue reading