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Atrocious sexual harassment, labor violations at Redwood City Co.

Two employees, a man and a woman, have filed complaints against Redwood City-based high-tech equipment dealer Capital Asset Exchange and Trading, LLC. The two worked as capital equipment traders for CAET and claim that the company's management allowed a hypersexual, lurid workplace culture to develop which included routinely calling women "whores" and "bitches" and numerous incidents of company-sponsored strippers and even prostitutes.

In their suit for wrongful termination, sexual harassment, contract violations and numerous labor code violations, the two former traders make allegations of such a shocking nature that they have to make you wonder: Have we made any progress against sexual harassment?

The complaints provide a litany of examples of managers encouraging a hostile work environment by making vulgar gestures and comments, chattering about their sexual exploits and encounters with prostitutes, and calling women by a variety of offensive names. It seems that management at CAET used male-superior sexuality the basic language of their business.

For example, the complaint says, when an trader made a large sale, it was designated a "big dick," whereas smaller sales were called "pussy." In meetings, one defendant routinely asked women who disagreed with him whether "their pussies hurt" and, on one occasion told the female plaintiff during a sales meeting that if she disagreed with him he would "put his dick in her mouth." Another manager screamed at and humiliated the female plaintiff in front of others because she was working at a company where "women do not belong."

The male plaintiff says that, shortly after he started at CAET he was rewarded for being a top trader with a company trip to Las Vegas. While he was there, a company manager ordered him to procure a prostitute, which is illegal even in Las Vegas. After he refused, he and two horrified colleagues were later confronted by his boss, semi-nude in bed with two prostitutes. He was told that if he reported the incident his job would be in jeopardy.

Unbelievably, the rampant sexual misconduct wasn't all. Both plaintiffs also claim that the company violated California's labor code in a wide variety of ways. Both were required to work long hours with no overtime and, beyond that, were required to give their personal phone numbers so that clients could call them day or night. With international clients, that meant routine calls in the middle of the night. If they failed to respond to calls within 20 minutes, the male plaintiff said, the account -- and the commission -- would be reassigned.

Additionally, their commissions were characterized illegally as bonuses, which gave CAET "maximum flexibility to dock [their] pay for any type of minor infraction.

Ultimately, after many more instances of illegality too numerous to list here, the male trader's career was ended by wrongful termination, followed up by his boss making defamatory comments against him. The female trader was forced to quit. They are now seeking both compensation for their lost income and earning position and punitive damages against the company.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "The Worst Bosses in the World?" William Dotinga, Feb. 22, 2013

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Law Offices of Allan A. Sigel, P.C.

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