Residents in California and elsewhere are well aware that they are afforded rights in the work environment. Unfortunately, these rights are not always protected and are sometimes violated by an employer or fellow co-worker. Victims of sexual harassment are protected by the resources and remedies available through the legal process.
Federal and California laws protect workers from sexual harassment in the workplace. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, or sexual conduct which interferes with the victim's job performance or creates a hostile or offensive work environment.
As most readers of this blog know, California has strict laws against sexual harassment in the workplace. One industry, however, seems to overlook these prohibitions on a regular basis. As 2016 came to a close, a number of men and women went public with tales of sexual harassment in what is broadly known as the hospitality industry, i.e., hotels, restaurants and bars.
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.
Another prominent television personality has come forward with allegations of sexual harassment by her superior. This time, the victim is Karla Amezola, a news anchor for Estrella TV; the defendants are Lieberman Broadcasting, Inc., the owner of Estrella, and Andrés Angulo. The lawsuit was filed in June 2016 in Los Angeles Superior Court, but the case is just now drawing significant attention after another anchor from Estrella, Adriana Ruggiero, brought a lawsuit in which she alleged similar acts of sexual harassment.
Gay men and women are often the target of workplace harassment and discrimination, but, occasionally, the shoe ends up on the other foot. A Los Angeles Superior Court jury recently awarded a total of $1.7 million in actual and punitive damages to nurses who claimed they had been subjected to sexual harassment and workplace discrimination by a homosexual male supervisor in the mental health unit at Community Hospital of Long Beach.
If you or a loved is in a situation involving sexual harassment at work you may wonder what is legally considered sexual harassment and what legal remedies may be available in sexual harassment situations. According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, sexual harassment is unwelcomed sexual advances or sexual conduct that unreasonably interferes with the victim's ability to perform their job or creates a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment.
A California agricultural processor has been ordered to pay $1,470,000 in damages as the result of a lawsuit brought by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit once again calls attention to management-sanctioned sexual harassment by supervisory employees.
Anyone who has worked in a hostile environment understands the severe strain and distress that hostility can place on a worker. Even if a worker is trying as hard as they can to function in such an environment, the overall atmosphere can eventually force them to realize they can't take it anymore. Those who report things like sexual harassment can face additional hostility, though, from employers and human resource officers who don't want any problems or negative publicity. A skilled wrongful termination attorney can protect harassed employees' rights in difficult situations like these.
Most workers in California probably have a vague idea of what constitutes sexual harassment. Fortunately, most workers have probably not encountered such workplace harassment, but for those who have, the victimization can be damaging and long-lasting. Still, California has key laws in place meant to protect employees from certain types of disruptive and often highly demeaning behavior.