Articles Posted in sexual harassment

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

When one police officer had the courage to speak out against alleged acts of sexual harassment in her sexual harassmentprecinct, she claims she was the one who was investigated, according to a BuzzFeed News report. Her story is one that would almost be too wild to be true if we hadn’t witnessed this type of behavior in so many other institutions, businesses, and places of work. The officer said she was new to the New York Police Department when she started getting a lot of friendly attention from one of the higher ranking officers. Friendliness allegedly escalated to unwanted touching and then propositions. For five years, she claimed she endured the behavior, telling anyone in her chain of command she felt safe enough talking to, hoping for change that never came. She said she felt trapped, knowing how aggressively police officers reacted when outsiders are brought in to investigate one of their own. Eventually she cracked and sought help form the department’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, at which point she alleged a very creative form of retaliation began.

The officer said shortly after filing her complaint, she was under investigation for alleged alcohol abuse and ordered to complete a treatment program. She took this accusation to be a direct threat, considering she described her own alcohol use as minimal with only a few drinks a year and a clean record with no complaints. Fighting the accusations only seemed to get her in more trouble though, as she said she was suspended when she refused to complete the program and lost a month of pay. Meanwhile, the officer she accused of harassment was docked 10 vacation days for years of alleged abuse toward her. Continue reading

California Senate and Assembly members will soon have a new set of rules in place by which they willsexual harassment investigate sexual harassment complaints, according to Capital Public Radio. The policy was unanimously approved by the Joint Legislative Rules Committee and was based on guidelines created by Los Angeles County. It effectively replaces the two separate policies each house was operating under previously. New standards include creation of an investigative unit, whose members would collect evidence and interview witnesses in connection to all complaints, and an external panel, whose experts would make decisions based on the evidence and recommend potential consequences. The rules have seen some revisions in recent weeks, including adding the ability to report inappropriate behavior by third parties and lobbyists who regularly interact with government workers. This would be in addition to legislative employees and lawmakers already protected by and accountable to the policy. Furthermore, a majority of the outside panel experts will be appointed by chief justice of the California Supreme Court. The panel will act separately from legislative counsel, allowing for neutral recommendations.

Before we can truly trust lawmakers to hold others accountable, they must show themselves to be trustworthy enough to hold themselves accountable. This is as true as ever in the wake of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. The past year has been eye opening in regards to the amount of sexual harassment that is taking place in work places across the country, including government offices. Roughly 150 women working for the state signed an open letter in October 2017 describing a culture of harassment and abuse in California politics. Three lawmakers in the state have stepped down due to accusations since then. Even more shocking are how many reports are being swept under the rug. That’s why we are seeing new policies cropping up all over the place.  Continue reading

As any good sexual harassment attorney knows, one of the biggest deterrents to victims coming forward withsexual harassment their stories is fear of retaliation and the effects it can have on their careers and well-beings. This issue is compounded infinitely for immigrant families, who not only fear risking their careers, but their entire way of life, their homes, the potential of deportation, and possible separation from their families. Even those who are in the process of becoming a legal citizen are fearful causing waves could put their citizenship in jeopardy. Sexual harassment, discrimination, and assault in the workplace is scary enough, but these personal ramifications add an exclamation point to the end of an already very frightening sentence.

The fear of deportation, even for those who are following all the rules and are actively seeking citizenship, has increased significantly recently with the current administration making a very public example of non-Americans. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in recent months invoked a “no tolerance” policy when it comes to people crossing the border from Mexico, offering little room to differentiate between asylum seekers and those committing violent crimes or trafficking drugs. This has created an environment where those already in the country tend to lay low, keep quiet, and hold their breaths to see what happens next.

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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