If you’re dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace, put a stop to it, and contact an experienced San Francisco employment rights attorney. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act – FEHA – generally applies to all California employers with five or more employees. It protects employees in this state from on-the-job sexual harassment, and that protection is absolute. But what about independent contractors, who usually do not enjoy the same legal rights as employees? Are independent contractors protected from sexual harassment by the parties contracting them?
A California jury recently said yes. A male Oceanside police officer allegedly and repeatedly sexually harassed a female contract phlebotomist who provided blood-drawing services to the city’s police department. The phlebotomist sued the city of Oceanside for a violation of FEHA, and a jury awarded her over $1 million. The city claimed that as a contractor, the phlebotomist was not entitled to FEHA protection. The California Court of Appeal disagreed.
American Forensic Nurses (AFN) contracted to provide on-call phlebotomy services at public law enforcement and healthcare locations throughout San Diego County. In August 2008, AFN hired Kimberli Hirst, a certified and trained phlebotomist, to perform on-call blood draws for the Oceanside Police Department. Over several months, while Hirst performed these services, an Oceanside police officer allegedly made repeated graphic, sexually explicit comments to her. Hirst disclosed the harassment to her supervisor. The police department suspended and later terminated the officer. Hirst sued the city of Oceanside, alleging that the city knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to act, thus violating FEHA. The jury agreed. It awarded her $1.125 million, and the California Court of Appeal affirmed the jury award.
Employers are responsible for eliminating workplace sexual harassment through training, supervision, and appropriate policies. If you are a victim of work-related sexual harassment – whether you are an employee, a contractor, an intern, or a volunteer – you don’t have to take it. Instead, take your case at once to an experienced San Francisco workplace harassment attorney, and don’t wait another day to make the call. Everyone deserves protection from sexual harassment–and a workplace harassment attorney can help.