Articles Posted in Sexual Harassment

Courts reviewing sexual harassment claims have the potential to award plaintiffs with significant monetary compensation; however, the legal claims have to establish certain causal links in order to be successful. Recently, a California court denied a plaintiff’s appeal in her employment discrimination case, concluding that there was no causal link between the sexual harassment that the individual faced and the consequences that she suffered while on the job. Thus, even though the plaintiff had conclusively established that she was a victim of sexual harassment, her case was ultimately unsuccessful.

According to the opinion, the plaintiff sued her employer for sexual harassment, retaliation, and failure to prevent harassment and retaliation. After her claim was denied by a lower court, the plaintiff appealed and hoped that a higher court would grant her a more favorable verdict.

The plaintiff was one of only three women serving as a lead public safety dispatcher for the city in which she resided. As a SWAT team member, the plaintiff was consistently subjected to sexually explicit jokes, nudity, and simulated sexual acts. What’s more, the plaintiff felt as if she could not refuse to participate in the sexually explicit culture, given it seemed necessary for her to advance as a member of the team.

Trials for employment discrimination cases can be emotionally charged environments, and respecting the decision-makers in any court setting can make or break a party’s case. In a recent sexual harassment suit coming out of a California court, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed several rulings from the lower court that he claimed prevented him from having a fair trial. The court of appeals disagreed, affirming the defendant’s original verdict.

The facts of the case indicate that the defendant was accused of sexually harassing one of his female employees, repeatedly making obscene comments and touching her in inappropriate ways. After several years of this behavior, the plaintiff brought the defendant to court, and just before the trial began, the defendant fired the attorneys that were working on his case.

Without an attorney, the defendant elected to represent himself at trial, deciding he did not need counsel in order to get his point across. During the trial itself, the defendant did not obey any of the court’s rules and regulations. He shouted at prospective jurors, made faces during the plaintiff’s testimony, yelled at the judge, threatened the defendant’s lawyer, and routinely interrupted witnesses while they were speaking.

Many employers, especially large corporations with a public image, may be more concerned about the optics of workplace discrimination and harassment claims than the cost of paying a complainant the requested amount of damages. Prior to 2019, California employers were permitted to require a sexual harassment or discrimination complainant to accept confidentiality and non-disparagement agreements as part of a settlement to resolve the employee’s claims. Many employers would offer generous settlements to aggrieved employees that were conditioned upon the employee agreeing to be silent in public about their claim.

In 2019, the California legislature passed a law (signed by Governor Newsom), commonly known as the “Silence No More Act.” this legislation forbade employers from requiring a confidentiality or non-disparagement clause as part of the settlement of an employee’s claim of harassment or discrimination based upon sex. The passage of this law prevented employers from essentially buying the silence of sexual harassment and discrimination victims, instead of allowing them to share their stories and warn others about potentially harmful and hostile work environments.

A recently published review of California employment law changes in 2021 discusses how the Silence No More Act provisions have been extended to protect other classes of people complaining of workplace discrimination or harassment. The new legislation states that an employer may not require silence from an employee/complainant who alleges any type of workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. The passage of this new law expands the rights of aggrieved California employees and prevents employers from refusing to pay settlement amounts after a former employee is caught discussing their experiences in public or with the media.

Three former executives for United Way Worldwide say the organization fired or bullied them in retaliation for addressing sexual harassment within one of the world’s largest nonprofits.

According to their claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the women say the organization’s leadership abruptly terminated or forced them to leave after they reported misconduct.

United Way Worldwide accused of “bullying” behavior

Three years after the #MeToo movement brought workplace sexual harassment into the spotlight, a new study shows a disturbing result – nearly three-quarters of the people reporting harassment say they were retaliated against for complaining.

The National Women’s Law Center report says seven out of 10 workers, who reported being sexually harassed at work, faced consequences, up to and including being fired. The study analyzed more than 3,000 requests for legal help from the Law Center’s Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund between January 2018 and April 2020.

Study findings show rampant harassment continues

The bigger a business is, the greater the potential for institutional corruption becomes. Large corporations often have to have large human resources and even accountability departments to ensure that no one person’s actions can impact the reputation and solvency of the company itself. Mandatory reporting and zero-tolerance policies are both examples of ways that companies limit liability. Mandatory arbitration for those who experience harassment is another.

Wells Fargo has made the news many times in recent years, often due to questionable corporate practices. However, they are currently in the news for doing something that could revolutionize the rights of workers in the banking and finance industry. Wells Fargo has decided to get rid of its mandatory arbitration clauses for the broader protection of their workers.

Forced arbitration is the standard in many professions

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