As employees in California are likely aware, there are certain behaviors that are acceptable in a work environment while others are extremely inappropriate. Some of these inappropriate behaviors are even considered illegal under employment law. One of these illegal workplace behaviors is sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can occur in many varying forms. It can be inappropriate attention of a sexual nature that makes one feel uncomfortable or like they're working in a hostile environment and it can go as far as forced participation in sexual activities. A lawsuit that was recently filed in California claims that a Yahoo executive forced one of her female employees to engage in sexual activities with her in order to maintain her employment and be successful within the organization.
According to the lower level female employee's complaint, the female senior director coerced her into have digital and oral sex more than once. In return for the sexual behaviors, the senior director told the woman she would have a "bright future" at the Yahoo company.
The complaint also states that the lower level employee's performance reviews were purposefully downgraded for two of the four quarters in 2013. When the woman complained about the senior director's behavior the human resources, they allegedly refused to conduct an investigation. Instead, the woman was put on unpaid leave and her employment was ultimately terminated.
The woman has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit naming her senior director and Yahoo as defendants. Under employment law, workplace harassment is illegal in itself. It is also illegal when an individual is fired for complaining about that harassment.
Cases involving sexual harassment can be difficult to discuss. The victim may feel embarrassed or even like they did something wrong. However, it is important to bring these issues to light so that those participating in the harassment and the companies for which they work are held accountable. There are experienced lawyers in California that will handle these sensitive issues with empathy and make the victim feel comfortable as they work through the case and obtain the appropriate compensation.
Source: NY Daily News, "Female Yahoo executive sued for sexual harassment, wrongful termination by woman who worked under her," July 12, 2014