Archive for the ‘ Sexual Harassment ’ Category

Reporting Workplace Harassment In The Post – #MeToo Era

Posted on: December 23, 2017 by in Sexual Harassment
No Comments

The current wave of sexual harassment claims and charges proves that sexual harassment cuts across all business sectors and every part of the economy. Do you face sexual harassment at your own job? Even if you don’t, is sexual harassment condoned by your employer?

Precisely what constitutes sexual harassment? Do victims have genuinely effective legal options? If you are an employer in California or if you work anywhere in this state, you need to know.

Sexual harassment is generally defined as sexually implicit or explicit speech or behavior that is unwelcome and that offends, intimidates, or humiliates someone because of his or her gender.

Sexual harassment includes a variety of behaviors ranging from an offensive email or joke to criminal sexual assault.


Especially today – in 2017 – employers who insist that no sexual harassment ever occurs at their workplaces may be setting themselves up for serious legal trouble.

Most employers who are accused of sexual harassment believed it would never happen to them, either.

Every California employer today needs to be proactive in fighting sexual harassment.

It can happen at any workplace, and that is the first thing that employers must admit and understand.

Although most mid-sized and large employers in California have established their own channels and procedures for handling sexual harassment complaints, the acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Victoria Lipnic, says that “only about thirty percent of women who experience harassment ever complain internally.”

How a business deals with a sexual harassment complaint can have a tremendous impact on the operation – now and for years to come.

And the Weinstein Company, of course, is not the only business that has overlooked for years the actions of its founder, executives, or top performers.

In 2016, the EEOC received nearly 27,000 sexual harassment complaints.


Thousands of other sexual harassment victims take their cases directly to an attorney who can file a sexual harassment lawsuit on a victim’s behalf.

In California, if you are a target of sexual harassment at your own workplace, you should discuss the circumstances at once with an experienced San Francisco employment rights lawyer.

Hinging on the details and particulars of a sexual harassment complaint – including whether the claim goes to trial or is settled out-of-court – the actual costs for a company that is found liable for sexual harassment can range from $100,000 to $1,000,000 or more.

And that doesn’t include the “public” costs like the loss of a company’s good reputation and its ability to attract top investors, customers, and employees.

In so many of the recent news stories about figures like Harvey Weinstein, we are told that harassment persisted for years and that “everyone knew.”

For employers large and small, overlooking rumors, whispers, and the things that “everyone knows” can have severe consequences.

Ignoring sexual harassment has the effect of condoning and legitimizing it, and it exacerbates the harassment victim’s injury and humiliation.


So, in times like these, what can a company do to eliminate workplace sexual harassment and protect itself against sexual harassment accusations?

First, create and implement a strong anti-sexual harassment policy. If you do not have a written policy, a skilled employment rights attorney can help. Publish and distribute the text to all employees.

If your company’s sexual harassment policy has not been revisited recently, this is the time.

The written policy should include specific examples of prohibited conduct, and it should clearly spell out the consequences for employees who violate the policy.

Additionally, and this is essential, the policy must provide employees with more than one way to report sexual harassment.

Why are multiple reporting options imperative? It’s simple.

If there is only one way for an employee to report sexual harassment, what happens if the person designated to receive those reports is the same person committing the harassment?

Without multiple reporting options, trying to report sexual harassment through internal channels could conceivably be futile.


Employers should never hesitate to investigate even a rumor of sexual harassment.

There is no need to wait until a formal complaint is received.

A San Francisco employment rights lawyer can give a California employer guidance and advice about conducting internal investigations.

By taking complaints and even rumors seriously, employers reassure their employees and demonstrate their commitment to a harassment-free workplace.

Employers should act against sexual harassment when the evidence warrants taking action, and they should affirm that no one is excused from the rules.

Educate your employees. Earlier in 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 396, which will require California employers with fifty or more employees to provide two hours of sexual harassment training for supervisors every two years.

The law takes effect on January 1, 2018. Training on sexual harassment is important, but it is not enough.

Especially today, California employers must “get ahead of the curve” and actively encourage the reporting of sexual harassment.

Employers also need to demonstrate beyond a doubt that harassment complaints will be taken seriously and dealt with swiftly.

No employee in California should ever have to doubt his or her employer’s commitment to basic employment rights.


Employees in our state enjoy comprehensive statutory protection against sexual harassment, hiring and employment discrimination, and employer retaliation.

If you are a victim of workplace sexual harassment in California, and if your employer will not act on your behalf to end the harassment, you should discuss the situation at once with an employment rights attorney in San Francisco.

An employee who prevails with a sexual harassment lawsuit in California is legally entitled to complete reimbursement for lost wages, and harassment victims may also be entitled to compensation for emotional distress and legal fees.

If you are a victim of sexual harassment, the law in California is on your side.

An employment rights lawyer can offer you insightful advice, and if necessary, will act on your behalf and fight for the justice – and for the compensation – that a sexual harassment victim needs and deserves.

If the sexual harassment is ongoing, take action – and make the call to an attorney – now. It’s your right.

How To Report Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

Posted on: September 17, 2017 by in Sexual Harassment
No Comments

If you are a target of sexual harassment at the workplace in the state of California, it’s illegal, and the person who can take action to put a stop to it is you.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is sexual behavior or advances that are unwelcome and that intimidate, offend, or humiliate a person because of his or her gender.

Sexual harassment might include anything from an offensive cartoon or calendar displayed on someone’s desk to outright groping or sexual assault.

If you’re a target of sexual harassment at your place of work, you deserve justice, and what’s provided here are some general tips about the best way to end the harassment and obtain justice.

Start by trying to record and document every incident of sexual harassment. You’ll need the time, date, and location of each incident. If witnesses were present, get their names and a way to contact them.

Make hard copies of any emails and other documents that support your harassment claim.

If you eventually have to take legal action, you’ll need that documentation along with the advice and services of a trustworthy San Francisco employment rights attorney.

Once you are documenting sexual harassment, the next step in stopping it is to follow your employer’s own internal protocols and report the harassment to a manager, supervisor, or HR department.

Sometimes you can put a stop to sexual harassment without taking legal action, and responsible employers who learn about sexual harassment will usually take decisive action to stop it.

However, at other workplaces, the company’s “internal channels” for dealing with sexual harassment complaints are not in fact there to protect you and your rights.


Instead, their actual function at some companies is to provide “legal cover” to employers. Many larger companies now have corporate complaint hotlines for employees to report – anonymously if they choose – illegal discrimination, sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, or other illegal activity.

If taken to court, the employer can boast that the corporate complaint hotline reflects the company’s proactive stance against discrimination and harassment. What happened at Fox News can serve as an example of the ineffectiveness of the hotlines.

As widely-publicized charges of sexual harassment targeted Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly over the last several years, Fox News declared to the New York Times that no Fox News employee had ever dialed the company’s complaint hotline “to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously.”

Additionally, the statement insisted that “21st Century Fox takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously.”

The New York Times has reported that five women have received payments totaling approximately $13 million from Fox News or from Mr. O’Reilly directly in return for agreements to take no further legal action and to speak no more in public about the charges.

Mr. O’Reilly himself has always denied all harassment allegations made against him, and he also spoke about the absence of complaints received by the Fox corporate hotline.


Ramona Paetzold, a professor at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School, says, “It is common to have hotlines, to encourage employees to use them, and to make the phone numbers obscure.”

Apparently, that happened at Fox News. The New York Times found that many Fox employees were unaware that a corporate complaint hotline had ever been set up.

But even in companies and circumstances where employees know fully about the corporate complaint hotline and have full accessibility to it, the idea of phoning in a sexual harassment report makes many people extremely nervous and uncomfortable.

In fact, far too many sexual harassment victims never report harassment. If they do, they probably will not use a corporate complaint hotline.

In a nationwide survey of 300,000 employees by CEB, only seven percent of employees who experienced or witnessed sexual harassment said that they reported it through a hotline.

Why so low a percentage? Brian Kropp, speaking for CEB, speculated: “Whenever the organization is involved in the reporting, as much as you might say it’s anonymous or confidential, nobody believes you.”

FEHA – the California Fair Employment and Housing Act of 1959 – offers absolute legal protection from sexual harassment to California employees working for companies that have five or more California employees.

Employers are responsible under California law to eradicate sexual harassment in the workplace by implementing suitable policies and ensuring appropriate training and supervision.

Overwhelming, most California employers know that workplace sexual harassment is both illegal and detrimental to business.


In the 21st century in California, no one should have to defend his or her basic and fundamental employment rights. Yet some employers in our state still violate their employees’ rights and still condone workplace sexual harassment.

California employers need to encourage the reporting of sexual harassment by their employees, and they need to let their employees know beyond any doubt that sexual harassment reports will be heard clearly, taken seriously, and acted on swiftly.

In the words of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “accountability systems must ensure that those who engage in harassment are held responsible in a meaningful, appropriate, and proportional manner, and that those whose job it is to prevent or respond to harassment, directly or indirectly, are rewarded for doing that job well, or penalized for failing to do so.”

If your employer will not take action to eliminate workplace sexual harassment, your efforts to record and document instances of sexual harassment will not be in vain.

After reviewing the details of your sexual harassment claim, if an employment rights lawyer advises you to take legal action against your employer, your attorney will need that documentation to prove your claim and to negotiate an appropriate settlement on your behalf.

Employees working in the state of California have thoroughgoing legal protections – perhaps more than employees in any other state – against workplace sexual harassment, workplace discrimination, and employer retaliation.

If you believe that your California employer is condoning sexual harassment or violating your employment rights in any way, speak with an experienced San Francisco employment rights attorney who can provide sound legal advice, and if necessary, fight for the justice – as well as the compensation – that you deserve.