Articles Posted in sexual harrassment

In an effort to ensure enforcement of zero tolerance policies when it comes to sexual harassment in California state senate offices, lawmakers have announced steps will be taken to hire outside attorneys for any investigations that involve abuse of or by staff or legislators. As reported by The Los Angeles Times, this breaks a long-standing practice of internally investigating sexual harassment complaints. sexual harassment

It’s also reflective of the national tone with regard to sexual harassment incidents, after the fallout with Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein sparked the #MeToo movement across social media and in numerous rallies and marches. Recently, hundreds marched in Hollywood against sexual harassment, as people from all different professions have come forward to demand accountability for those who commit sexual harassment and the institutions that protect them.

The decision to revise the sexual harassment investigation policies within the California Senate was unveiled hours after there were allegations of inappropriate behavior against Tony Mendoza, a Democrat from Artesia. Two capital staffers have accused him of misconduct. One allegation was made by a 19-year-old intern, who alleged Mendoza invited her to his hotel room to drink alcohol, despite her being underage. Another allegation was made by a 19-year-old Senate fellow. Three former aides were reportedly fired after making complaints about the interactions with the young woman. Senate officials have denied there is any connection between those terminations and the sexual harassment complaints.  Continue reading

When Title VII passed in 1964, it banned gender discrimination at work. However, it wasn’t until 1975 that activists at Cornell University coined the phrase, “sexual harassment.” And still, it wasn’t until around the early 1990s, when law professor Anita Hill accused Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her when they worked together. That didn’t stop Thomas’ nomination from being confirmed, but that same year, the Civil Rights Act was amended to allow victims in those cases to seek both compensatory and punitive damages. The number of sexual harassment cases skyrocketed. tv

Twenty-six years later, allegations of sexual harassment brought down one of the most powerful men in cable news – Bill O’Reilly. Of course, it took years and numerous allegations from many women.

But even before then, in late 2016, Anita Hill spoke out to CBS News, in response to the infamous Access Hollywood Trump tape, Hill said women have been saying for decades that sexual harassment is real and it is a problem. The revelation didn’t stop Trump from being elected. However, the incident did spur a national discussion. Then there was Roger Ailes, the former Fox chairman who was ousted amid numerous allegations of sexual harassment from high-profile female anchors and staffers. When the latest allegation arose against Bill O’Reilly, advocates say it brought sexual harassment “to the tipping point of public attention.” Continue reading

Plaintiff in a newly-filed federal lawsuit alleges the nursing home for which she worked failed to protect her from sexual assault by a manager with a known history of sexual harassment. nurses

The Denver Post reports her former employer in Colorado hired her  boss/ attacker in 2014, after he had just been fired from his last job at a Minnesota hospital amid allegations of sexual harassment. Despite knowing this history, plaintiff said when she reported the two instances of sexual assault, administrators responded by falsely accusing her of stealing narcotic medications and terminating her.

She is now seeking compensation for lost wages, punitive and compensatory damages and attorney’s fees. Defendant in the case is a company that owns more than two dozen nursing homes in three states. Although the company purports to value cultivating and maintaining a safe space for residents and staffers, that was not what plaintiff experienced.  Continue reading

Fox News announced it settled with former Anchor Gretchen Carlson – and a “handful” of other women – each of whom had filed lawsuits alleging former CEO Roger Ailes had sexually harassed them. Carlson alone received a $20 million payout.tvstudio

The station’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch and his sons, was the one that paid the settlement. Employment law experts know that the size of Carlson’s compensation is among the largest-known settlements issued for a single plaintiff in a sexual harassment lawsuit. We say “known” because many of these settlement agreements are confidential. In fact, at least two other women who were part of the sexual harassment investigation settled too, wishing to remain anonymous. Still, Ailes himself received a $40 million payout when he exited the company. He will not have to pay any of the $20 million settlement to Carlson or the other women, despite the fact that the lawsuits were originally against him personally.

Also rather unusual: 21st Century Fox issued an apology – a public one at that – to Carlson. She had filed the lawsuit over the summer, alleging Ailes removed her from the popular show and slashed her pay when she refused to have a sexual relationship with him. The apology statement conceded that Carlson was not treated with the respect and dignity she was owed.  Continue reading

Amid allegations of sexual harassment, Fox News is reportedly ousting 76-year-old CEO Roger Ailes.womanportrait

An internal investigation was launched after former Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes. That expanded into a wide-ranging inquiry over Ailes’ often controversial management style. Other allegations of sexual harassment have been made as well.

Meanwhile, Ailes has moved to remove the lawsuit, Carlson v. Ailes, to arbitration.  Continue reading

Chipotle has been in the headlines a lot recently, mostly because of allegations of hundreds of cases of food poisoning in stores across the country, man of which were shuttered until the source of the contamination was identified and addressed.  While that problem appears to be solved and the company’s sales are beginning to recover, the company is back in the news again because a former employee is suing them over what the plaintiff has called a “sexually-charged atmosphere.”

chicken-burrito-1318465According to a recent news article from NBC 4 Southern California, plaintiff alleges that she and other female employers were subject to frequent sexual harassment at their workplace. One example alleged in her complaint is that her supervisors intentionally ordered a shirt they knew to be too tight.  She said she asked for a larger shirt, but her manager asked her if she needed a larger size because her breasts were too big.   She also alleged they used the store security cameras to watch women they believed were attractive.  Continue reading

These days, it is virtually impossible to turn on the television, open social media or even take public transportation without hearing about Donald Trump and his bid for the GOP presidential nomination.  Regardless of your feelings about him as a candidate, he is clearly an excellent marketer and seems thrilled every time he is mentioned in the press –  even if it is for a story depicting him in a negative light.

job-concept-1445172-4-mA recent article from the International Business Times reports Trump has been sued by hundreds of his own employers for alleged violations of the local and national labor laws.  The article suggests that the may be somewhat different from his “tough but fair” reputation on The Apprentice, where he was known for his catch phrase, “You’re fired.” Continue reading

California laws protect individuals from sexual orientation discrimination. In a recent case, a lawsuit has been filed against Pepperdine University and one of its basketball coaches, alleging harassment related to sexual orientation. According to reports, two players filed the suit against the school and the coach after they suffered harassment related to their lesbian relationship. One of the students suffered such severe harassment that she went into a deep depression and suicide attempt. The coach and academic coordinators allegedly became obsessed with the couple’s relationship and claimed that “lesbianism is not tolerated” on the team.

basketball-court-at-summer-1-1374666-mIn addition to the violation of privacy rights, the lawsuit also alleges that that school is in violation of the federal Education Amendments Act of 197 which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded programs and activities. The women were pulled aside and repeatedly questioned about their relationship, about their sleeping arrangements, sexual orientation, and sexual preferences. Both women repeatedly asked the coach to stop “prying” into their personal lives. In another discussion with the team the coach warned the players that they were prohibited from dating. The coach even blamed a team loss on a mid-season break-up between the players.

Other players on the team recognized that there was an intensive investigation going on. They were being questioned and asked about the relationship and warned the players to be careful. After months of living in fear and being harassed, one of the players went into a severe depression and attempted suicide. When she decided to return to the team, the coach refused to allow her back on the court without a doctor’s note from a gynecological exam. According to reports, the doctor’s notes provide evidence of good health, but have also prevented women from playing basketball at the university.

Sexual harassment scandals in politics are some of the most notoriously covered by the media. In a recent case, California House candidate Carl DeMaio has been accused of sexual harassment by a former staffer. Making matters worse, the former policy director claims the politician attempted bribery and made repeated advances for sexual contact. The Republican candidate is openly gay and is in a tight race against Scott Peters, but has gained national support and attention for his decision to drop social issues from the party platform. Despite his growing notoriety and place as a “rising star” in the Republican party, the candidate could suffer a huge blow to his campaign as a result of the sexual harassment allegations.

oldmanAccording to reports, DeMaio repeatedly sexually harassed his staffer by grabbing his crotch and “masturbating in front of him” while in his office. DeMaio vehemently denies the allegations. He describes the staffer as a disgruntled ex-employee who was fired for plagiarizing documents for the website. DeMaio has also accused the staffer of breaking into the campaign office and committing property damage – a case that also drew national headlines.

In this highly-publicized dispute, sexual harassment allegations could result in a significant settlement or jury verdict if the plaintiff is successful in litigation.

Unpaid internships have been increasingly under scrutiny for taking advantage of new college graduates and the unemployed. Though new regulations have been implemented to help protect young workers and to hold employers accountable, it appears that interns have more at stake that just not getting paid. Due to the legal arrangements between employers and unpaid interns, it was difficult for interns to take legal action in the event of discrimination or sexual harassment. Now California legislators have passed a law to extend protections against sexual harassment to unpaid interns. Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that was introduced by Berkeley Assembly Member, Nancy Skinner to offer legal protections to unpaid interns and volunteers against sexual harassment in the workplace.

sad-girl-1-1166626-mUnder the new law, the 1964 Civil Rights Act will be extended to include those members of the workforce who are unpaid to prevent sexual harassment in California. The law is a step in the right direction to protect workers whose rights are undermined and mired by complicated legal definitions. Our Orange County employment law attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of interns and workers throughout the state of California. We are committed to staying abreast of changes in state and federal law and are prepared to take on legal action on behalf of employees.

Advocates in favor of the new sexual harassment prevention law say that it extends a basic civil right to all workers, including those who are offering their services in lieu of education or in the name of volunteerism. The California bill was introduced shortly after a federal district court in New York ruled that the Civil Rights Act does not apply to interns because they are not technically employees. The original case involved a Syracuse University student who was groped, kissed and harassed at her media company internship. The student also suffered retaliation after she refused the sexual advances of her superior.