Archive for the ‘ Sexual Harassment in San Francisco ’ Category

Are Sexual Harassment Lawsuits In California Public Record?

Posted on: November 16, 2018 by in Sexual Harassment in San Francisco
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As we all know, sexual harassment in the 21st-century workplace happens far too frequently. And as many suspect, false accusations of sexual harassment also happen far too frequently.

Sexual harassment at the workplace takes a number of forms. Unwelcome advances, sexual bribery, questionable jokes, offensive pictures or emails, and discussions of sexual topics may all constitute sexual harassment. Can a sexual harassment law firm in San Francisco help?

IS THERE ANY PROTECTION FOR THOSE WHO ARE FALSELY ACCUSED?

A variety of both state and federal laws protect those who bring sexual harassment accusations, but is there any protection for those who are falsely accused? You may be surprised to learn that there are no laws to protect those who have been accused of sexual harassment.

Claims For Sexual Harrasment

The justice system still holds to the principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but employers are not bound by that principle, and for some employers, employees under investigation for sexual harassment are guilty until proven innocent.

At some corporations and businesses, merely being accused of sexual harassment can lead to termination. If this happens to you in the state of California, you must discuss your situation and your options with an experienced San Francisco employment rights attorney.

FALSELY ACCUSED? WRONGLY TERMINATED? WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?

Although a falsely accused and wrongly terminated employee may take legal action against the accuser for defamation, if the accusing party is not affluent, such action may be futile.

A falsely accused and terminated employee’s next option is determining if the employer has violated that employee’s rights. An employment rights attorney can review your case and determine if what has happened to you constitutes legally actionable wrongful termination.

In California, most employer-employee relationships are “at-will” relationships. Either party may end the relationship with or without cause or notice unless an employment contract sets other conditions or terms. However, employers may only fire employees for reasons that are legal.

WHAT CAN CONSTITUTE WRONGFUL TERMINATION?

You cannot be legally fired for filing a worker’s comp claim, a discrimination claim, or a sexual harassment claim. If you’re accused of harassment – or of something like theft – you can’t be fired simply because you have been accused of wrongdoing if there is no evidence against you.

Public Record Of Harrasment

If you’ve been wrong – meaning illegally – terminated from your employment in the state of California, and you are able to prove it with an employment lawyer’s assistance, you could be awarded financial compensation and even reinstated at your job.

WHAT DAMAGES ARE AVAILABLE TO WRONGFUL TERMINATION VICTIMS?

Three kinds of damages (compensation awards) are available in California to an employee who prevails with a wrongful termination claim:

1. Economic damages are what you would have earned if you had not been fired illegally.
2. Non-economic damages compensate you for pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
3. Punitive damages are intended to deter future wrongful terminations by the employer.

Wrongful termination is unjust and illegal. It’s a serious violation of your rights. If you don’t find other work quickly, you may be unable to pay bills and fulfill your responsibilities – all because your employer believed a false accusation and acted illegally.

WHAT WILL YOUR ATTORNEY NEED?

If you choose to pursue legal action after a wrongful termination, your lawyer will need evidence: letters, emails, the sworn statements of witnesses – anything that might help to prove your wrongful termination claim.

An employment rights attorney could also subpoena the employer’s relevant personnel files and internal documents. If you signed an employment contract, an employment lawyer can determine if your termination violated the contract’s conditions and terms.

WHAT’S BEST FOR EMPLOYERS?

For employers, it is best to establish and pursue a policy of confidentiality regarding internal investigations into sexual harassment complaints. As an employer, if someone is guilty, you want to hold that person accountable and avoid a lawsuit – from either the accuser or the accused.

Skilled Attorney

When an employer conducts this kind of internal investigation, it should be conducted – or at least overseen – by an employment attorney to ensure that no one’s rights are violated and that all aspects of the investigation are compliant with the law.

An internal investigation, conducted confidentially, should establish whether or not sexual harassment, in fact, took place. The attorney conducting or overseeing the investigation can then determine if the employer has any liability for the sexual harassment – if it happened.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CONDUCTING AN INTERNAL INVESTIGATION?

For employers, internal investigations are often an effective way to:

1. resolve problems such as claims of sexual harassment
2. determine how policies and procedures may need to be reconsidered
3. avoid lawsuits

But employers who are conducting internal investigations must be cautious. It is genuinely imperative to put an employment attorney in charge. Without an attorney’s oversight, not only the legality but also the efficacy of your investigation and its findings may be challenged.

IF YOU’RE AN EMPLOYER, HOW CAN A LAWYER HELP?

Employment attorneys can provide employers with the prudent and sensible legal advice that can keep a workplace problem from becoming a courtroom problem.

Job Internal Investigations

Handled improperly, employment disputes can be calamitous for employers. But dealt with properly, the dispute may become an opportunity for reassessing an employer’s practices and policies as well as an opportunity to deal with often-unspoken, underlying concerns.

There may be no perfect solution for employees or employers who are accused of sexual harassment – or for its real victims. However, if you’re an employer who is concerned about the best way to handle these matters, you should have an employment attorney’s insights and advice.

In today’s business environment, employers must have sound and reliable legal advice. A good employment lawyer can offer employers advice on employee contracts and discipline, personnel policies and practices, internal investigations, and the entire range of employment law issues.

IF YOU’RE AN EMPLOYEE, HOW CAN AN ATTORNEY HELP?

If you’re an employee who has been wrongly accused of sexual harassment, and if you’ve been fired, or if you’re concerned about confidentiality and how your employer is handling an internal investigation, speak at once to an experienced San Francisco employment rights attorney.

Nothing is a higher priority than your rights, your job, and your future. If you have been wrongly accused of sexual harassment – or if you are a victim of wrongful termination – a good employment lawyer’s help is your right.

11 Tips For Victims Of Sexual Harassment

Posted on: March 18, 2018 by in Sexual Harassment in San Francisco
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If you’re a victim of workplace sexual harassment in California, it’s against the law, and it has to stop now. Here are eleven tips from our Oakland sexual harassment lawyers about what needs to be considered to stop workplace sexual harassment.

TIP #1: TELL THE PERPETRATOR TO STOP

To prevail with a legal claim for sexual harassment, a victim/plaintiff will have to prove that the harassment was unwanted behavior.

Tips For Harrasment

Be certain that the perpetrator knows the behavior is unwanted. Directly tell the perpetrator to stop.

In order to be sure that the harasser knows that his or her conduct is unwanted, a victim must plainly tell the harasser to stop.

If this doesn’t work, write a letter to the perpetrator that tells him or her to stop the sexual harassment and that the behavior is unwanted.

Make and keep several copies of that letter. You may need it later if the matter becomes a lawsuit.

TIP #2: FULLY DOCUMENT INSTANCES OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Keep a written and detailed account of every incident of harassment. Save letters, memos, emails, and any other documents that might be pertinent.

Documenting harassment includes documenting more than just the actual harassment itself. Keep and copy any documents related to performance reviews, demotions, title changes, or benefits.

TIP #3: REPORT SEXUAL HARASSMENT RIGHT AWAY

Particularly in California, it is imperative to make – and to document – a workplace sexual harassment complaint at once.

Speak to your supervisor or manager or to that person’s supervisor or manager – or speak with your human resources department or officer immediately.

Most employers have a standard process – “proper channels” – for reporting harassment. Follow that process.

Going through the procedure might stop the harassment. If it doesn’t, you’ll prove that you made every reasonable effort to resolve the matter internally before you took legal action.

TIP #4: FOLLOW UP ON YOUR INITIAL COMPLAINT

When an employer learns that workplace sexual harassment is happening, the employer must take measures to ensure that the harassment will be eliminated.

After you make a sexual harassment complaint to your employer, it’s imperative to find out what steps are being taken to eliminate the harassment.

TIP #5: GET COUNSELING IF YOU NEED IT

Sexual harassment may trigger anxiety, depression, traumatic stress, sleeplessness, and reduced work performance.

File A Complain

Sexual harassment victims should not try to cope with such issues on their own.

Seek professional counseling if you need help with the emotional distress that sexual harassment can generate.

TIP #6: KNOW THE LEGAL DEFINITION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Know your rights. Employees in California have comprehensive legal protection against workplace discrimination, workplace sexual harassment, and employer retaliation.

However, not all inappropriate behavior in the workplace constitutes illegal discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Illegal sexual harassment includes:

1. “quid pro quo” harassment – basing a term of employment upon the acceptance of an unwanted sexual advance

2. hostile work environment sexual harassment that offends, intimidates, or humiliates someone because of his or her gender

TIP #7: UNDERSTAND WHAT EMPLOYER RETALIATION IS

It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against a sexual harassment or discrimination victim for:

1. File a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
2. opposing discriminatory workplace practices
3. participating in a sexual harassment investigation
4. taking legal action to stop workplace sexual harassment

If a sexual harassment victim does not understand what constitutes employer retaliation, that victim may miss the opportunity to file a claim against the employer for retaliation.

 California Department of Fair Employment and Housing

Furthermore, if you do not realize that retaliation is illegal, you may be intimidated from taking action to stop the sexual harassment.

Do not be intimidated. An employer cannot stop you from reporting and fighting sexual harassment.

TIP #8: BELIEVING AN EMPLOYER’S FIRST RESPONSE TO YOUR CLAIM

A human resources department functions to protect an employer. Thus, a manager or HR director might tell you that you do not have a viable sexual harassment claim.

Or a manager may tell a victim that the matter will be resolved and no attorney will be needed.

When the issue is sexual harassment, don’t rely on your employer’s answers or advice.

Even when they have good intentions, human resource directors and managers are not lawyers, and they may not grasp the finer points of sexual harassment laws.

You have the right to experienced, objective legal counsel.

Discuss your case with an experienced San Francisco sexual harassment attorney. Get sound legal guidance that you can trust.

TIP #9: FILE AN ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLAINT – AND MEET THE DEADLINE

In California, before an employer can be sued for sexual harassment, a sexual harassment victim must obtain a “Notice of Right to Sue” from the EEOC or the DFEH.

Under California law, you must file a sexual harassment claim with the DFEH within a year of the date that you experienced sexual harassment.

Under federal law, you must file a sexual harassment claim with the EEOC within three hundred days of the date that you experienced sexual harassment.

If your employer in California is a small business, file your claim with the DFEH. The EEOC only regulates employers with fifteen or more employees.

Experienced Sexual Harrasment Lawyer

The DFEH governs California businesses with five or more employees, but when a claim is for sexual harassment, California sexual harassment law extends to every employer in the state.

Harassment victims should have an experienced San Francisco sexual harassment attorney help file a claim with the DFEH or EEOC. Harassment lawyers routinely handle these filings and know what these agencies are looking for.

TIP #10: DETERMINE IF YOU ARE LIMITED BY AN ARBITRATION AGREEMENT

If you agreed to an employment contract that includes an arbitration clause, you may not be able to pursue a lawsuit. You may be forced to accept an arbitrated settlement.

An arbitration hearing is a legal-style procedure where both sides present their cases to a neutral arbitrator who usually makes a final ruling.

An arbitration clause in an employment contract usually obligates both sides to accept the arbitrator’s decision as final.

If you signed an employment contract, have your attorney review it and explain how it may restrict your ability to take legal action against your employer for sexual harassment.

TIP #11: HAVE A LAWYER’S ADVICE FROM THE VERY BEGINNING

Sexual harassment victims frequently wait too long to speak with an attorney. They may not be sure if they need an attorney, or they may not be precisely sure what constitutes sexual harassment.

Talk to an attorney first. Learn where you stand legally. That way, you can deal with your sexual harassment situation from a position of knowledge and confidence.

A sexual harassment lawyer can begin quietly working for a settlement from your employer while the other stages in the legal process transpire.

Work Bad Experiences

Your attorney will help you file with the DFEH or EEOC to make sure that your paperwork is comprehensive and accurate.

After obtaining the right to sue, your attorney can then proceed to file a lawsuit and continue private negotiations until a settlement – or a verdict – is reached.

California does not tolerate workplace sexual harassment. If you are a sexual harassment victim, the law is on your side. Contact an attorney, stand up for your rights, and stop the harassment – now.

Reporting Workplace Harassment In The Post – #MeToo Era

Posted on: December 23, 2017 by in Sexual Harassment in San Francisco
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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? Can a San Francisco workplace harassment lawyer help?

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.

WHAT SHOULD EMPLOYERS UNDERSTAND ABOUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

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 in any workplace, and that is the first thing that employers must admit and understand.

Sexual Harrasment

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.

HOW CAN AN EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS ATTORNEY HELP?

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.

Workplace Sexual Harrasment

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.

WHAT CAN EMPLOYERS DO?

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.

Eliminate Harrasment

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.

WHEN AND HOW SHOULD INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS BE CONDUCTED?

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 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.

Internal Investigations

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.

WHAT SHOULD EVERY EMPLOYEE KNOW ABOUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

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 in San Francisco
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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 lawyers know that this 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.

Sexual Harassment Report

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.

WHAT MAY BE THE REAL PURPOSE OF A CORPORATE COMPLAINT HOTLINE?

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.

Hostile Work Enviroment

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.

DO PEOPLE EVEN USE CORPORATE COMPLAINT HOTLINES?

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.”

Employees Who Experienced or Witnessed Sexual Harassment

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.

WHAT SHOULD EMPLOYERS DO?

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.”

Sexual Harassment Claim

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.