Sexual harassment often leads to complaints to management by the offended worker and then, unfortunately, to termination of the employee. Younger workers are especially vulnerable to such wrongful termination because they are not aware of their legal rights and may be reluctant to speak out. A recent decision by a federal court in California shows, however, that such unlawful termination after a justified complaint of sexual harassment can lead to an award of damages in favor of the employee.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a charge in federal court alleging that the manager of a chain restaurant sexually harassed a female employee. The complaint alleged that the woman rejected the manager's advances and then complained to another manager. Within days, the woman was fired. The federal judge upheld the claim and ordered the restaurant chain to pay $27,700 to settle the claim. The court found that the restaurant's conduct, "through its manager's actions and inaction, was wrongful and flagrantly violated federal law."
An attorney for the EEOC in its Los Angeles District Office said that, "No employee should feel that they have to consent to unwanted sexual advances in order to maintain their employment." Another EEOC official said that, "Employers should have appropriate anti-harassment policies and reporting procedures in place to protect their workers from unwelcome behavior and retaliation."
Younger, inexperienced workers often find themselves in work situations where they are the object of unwanted sexual advances by co-workers or managers. Anyone in such a situation may wish to consult a lawyer who specializes in employment harassment cases. Such a consultation can provide a useful evaluation of the facts and law of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for lost income, medical expenses and mental distress.
Source: The National Law Review, "Mexicali Chicken & Salads Ordered To Pay $27,700 to Resolve Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed By EEOC," Jan. 2, 2017