Category: Sexual Harassment

You Stay Classy, San Diego

 

Throughout the end of 2013, the news was ablaze with the sexual indiscretions of San Diego mayor, Bob Filner. Now, almost three months into 2014, Mayor Filner is once more in the spotlight…by paying the cost.

The city of San Diego is paying out its second settlement for the former mayor’s indiscretions. Peggy Shannon, a 67 year old great-grandmother, filed a formal suit against the former mayor for sexual harassment last August, alleging that Filner had made pervasive comments toward her and even forcibly kissed her. He would seek her out at during her part-time shifts and consistently ask that she go out on dates with him. She grew more and more nervous and worried at Filner’s bold behavior, with some encounters ending in tears.

At one point, Filner’s serial sexual harassing tendencies led to the female staff confronting him about his behavior. They tried to put a stop to his inappropriate ways. Donna Frye, a former Filner supporter, took further action, by organizing a press conference during which she coined Filner as being a “serial sexual harasser.” The press conference got the ball rolling on a larger scale and by the following week, 18 women stepped forward against Filner.

Filner has since agreed to resign and never to take public office again. He has also been criminally charged with one count of false imprisonment and one count of sexual battery.

The First Steps to File a Lawsuit

You find yourself bullied and harassed at your work place. You’re called names based on your ethnicity, or your religious beliefs and practices are brought into question, or you experience unwanted touching and sexual advances. You report these incidents to your employer. You are fired. Now what?

Many people find themselves at a loss when their livelihood is taken from them and are frequently confused as to where to turn. In these instances, one must know that time is precious. If you wish to file suit or take action for termination/firing, bullying, or harassment, the first step is to ensure your time is preserved.

For claims based on federal law that safeguards against discrimination, an employee or former employee has 180 days from the time the unlawful action took place to file with the federal entity, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). On the state level and for claims violating state law based on discrimination, a person has up to 1 year to file a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). These time windows are called “statutes of limitations.” If your statute of limitation expires, then the claims do also.

Therefore, to ensure your precious time is in fact preserved, contact an attorney who can determine which entity needs to be involved. It’s beneficial to contact an attorney sooner rather than later as to preserve your claims.

Sexual Harassment NEED NOT be Motivated by Desire

In light of Kelley v. The Conco Companies, (“Kelley”) 196 Cal. App. 4th 191, 126 legislators enacted Senate Bill 292 amending the Fair Employment and Housing Act to explicitly state that sexual desire need not be a motivating factor in order for a plaintiff to prevail on a claim of harassment.

In Kelley a male plaintiff complained of harassment directed at him by another male coworker did not prevail on his claim for sexual harassment because he failed to prove that his harasser’s conduct was motivated by sexual desire. In response to this unfavorable verdict, legislators enacted and passed SB 292 which amended California Government Code § 12940 to now read, “Sexually harassing conduct need not be motivated by sexual desire.”

One inferred effect of this change is that it a same-sex harasser does not have to be a homosexual or bisexual to be liable for harassing a same-sex victim.

Sexual Harassment is in the Eye of the Beholder

Most people know it is not okay to sexually harass people at work.  What many people don’t realize is that sexual harassment is a lot more than just trying to coerce someone into sleeping with their boss, inappropriately touching a coworker, or making sexually explicit comments about a coworker.

The kind of kidding around you do with a buddy can be harassment when said at work.  Have you ever called a coworker a “pussy”?  What if a female coworker overheard you?  She might be bothered by you comparing someone to a female body part in an insulting way.   Maybe you have heard a coworker talk about how someone got “raped” when they did a bad job?  How do you think a coworker who had been sexually assaulted would feel about hearing someone say that?  It can be as simple as you and a girlfriend being mad at a coworker and saying “what a slut!” when she walked by.  The fact that a group is all women or all men does not make sex-related language okay at work.  Even if something does not bother you, it may offend or hurt a coworker.  Remember, it is not what you think is alright that matters, but what the people around you feel.  Be respectful to your coworkers and keep it clean in the workplace.

HoneyBaked Ham Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The Original HoneyBaked Ham Company has agreed to pay $370,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the EEOC.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, female HoneyBaked Ham employees were subjected to sexual harassment and were fired and otherwise retaliated against when they complained. The lawsuit alleged that when a female employee reported her harassment complaint up the chain of command, she was terminated.

HoneyBaked Ham has agreed to pay $370,000 and agreed to ensure that all of its employees are trained on sexual harassment and the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII. HoneyBaked Ham will also furnish the EEOC with reports on gender discrimination, including sexual harassment complaints.

Retaliation complaints have been on the rise. Over the last two years retaliation claims have been the most prevalent types of charges filed by the EEOC. In 2012, approximately 38% of the charges filed with the EEOC were retaliation charges.

EEOC Denver Field Office Director Nancy Sienko added, “We are pleased that HoneyBaked Ham will take the needed steps under this agreement to improve awareness of sexual harassment and to establish procedures that protect employees who complain.”

http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/6-26-13.cfm