Category: Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment in Corporate America – Not Just TV Drama

The 1960s probably come to mind when you think of men making aggressive (perhaps appalling) advances towards female co-workers. But the reality is, that “Mad Men” stereotype is not too far from the corporate world today. Even the 2016 election cycle seemed to bring some of this issue to light – i.e. grab them by the what? The Roger Ailes controversy was one of the most widely publicized and closely followed news stories of the year. Over two dozen women came forward to speak out against Ailes’ inappropriate behavior, leading the big wig to resign from Fox News after a 20 year career. The world was shocked when women spoke of sexual harassment and assault from beloved comedian Bill Cosby.

But for many women, they don’t have to watch the news to see harassment culture in action. A report released in June 2016 by the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace revealed some alarming findings. Key findings included:

  • Workplace harassment remains a persistent problem
  • Workplace harassment often goes unreported (3 out of 4 victims never report the harassment)
  • There is a compelling business case for stopping and preventing harassment
  • It starts at the top
  • It’s on us (everyone)

The EEOC also notes that 45% of all complaints filed are based on sex. This is far more than any other type of harassment reported. They have also noted that 83% of all sexual harassment charges were filed by women.

Joann Lublin details the trials and tribulations of female executives in her book, Earning It: Hard Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World. She is also the management-news editor at the Wall Street Journal. Lublin interviewed several successful women for the book and shares their personal stories of sexual harassment and degradation. Many of the anecdotes take place in the 1980s and 1990s, but not all. The broad span of years in which the incidents take place is rather disheartening. Unfortunately, it’s evident from many sources that sexual harassment still prevails today as well.

Most recently, a lawsuit was filed against insurance company AIG by their former employee Marlee Valenti. The plaintiff began working for AIG in 2009, and was promoted within a year to Senior Underwriter. She won multiple awards for her performance. The issues began in 2012 when she was transferred to the Public Management Liability Commercial Lines Division. The division was well known within the company as the “Boy’s Club”, as only an estimated 10% of its employees were female. Valenti states that in the division, she and other female employees endured incredulous acts of sexual harassment, including male executives hiding under women’s desks in order to look up their skirts. Valenti also stated that she had been groped and licked by male co-workers, among other things. Though the behavior was grotesque, the plaintiff didn’t feel there was anyone she could make a complaint to. Her direct supervisor Michael Donnelly was, in her words, “a willing participant” in the problematic behavior. Eventually, Valenti states that Donnelly began showing “clear disdain” towards her. This escalated in September of 2013 when she received a formal written performance warning. Along with the write-up, Valenti’s biggest account was taken away from her and she claims that she was denied opportunities, as all of her supervisors began ignoring her. In December 2013, the problems came to a head when Valenti discovered her co-workers had been “speaking negatively” about her to others in the industry. She had enough. This prompted Valenti to submit a 150 page rebuttal to management, complete with “evidence” of the harassment she had endured. The following month, Valenti was fired. The company allegedly completed “a perfunctory investigation” but found no wrongdoing.

It is only a small percentage of stories such as these that gain notoriety. The only way that workplace harassment will be eradicated is if each of us take action. That can be in the form of making complaints on your own behalf, or standing up for co-workers. When necessary, it can also take the form of a lawsuit. If you feel that you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, call our office for a free consultation. Together, we can help end this epidemic, one case at a time.

 

Sources:

http://nypost.com/2017/01/24/ex-aig-worker-sues-over-never-ending-stream-of-harassment/

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/aig-worker-sues-sexual-harassment-article-1.2953841

http://dealbreaker.com/2017/01/aig-sexual-harassment-lawsuit/

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/10/when-women-have-power-they-can-do-something-about-sexual-harassment/505316/

https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/report.cfm#_Toc453686298

 

Sexual Harassment Attorney

Sexual Harassment Claims Land Shaun White in Hot Water!

Olympian, musician, and entrepreneur Shaun White has found himself in hot water. Former bandmate Lena Zawaideh has filed a lawsuit against him, alleging sexual harassment as well as wage claims. She states he did not pay her for some of her work. The legal matter was initiated in May 2016, but was not filed in court until recently.

Zawaideh was fired from the band Bad Things (which she helped form with White in 2008) after the end of their 2014 tour. She claims that throughout her duration working with the band, she was subjected to sexual harassment by White, being forced to endure various explicit pornographic images, listen to White’s vulgar language, and have to wear provocative outfits. Zawaideh states she would receive text messages from White including images of “engorged and erect penises”, as well as being forced to watch “disturbing” pornographic videos, some of which sexualized human fecal matter. Another showed a couple killing a bear, then having intercourse on top of it. The court complaint also details scenarios ranging from White sticking his behind in Zawaideh’s face, to him grabbing her behind or trying to kiss her.

Screen captures of text messages between the two exhibit a very different side of the all-American “Flying Tomato”. Some conversations reveal White angrily admonishing Zawaideh for wearing a fleece sweater to a band photo shoot, (not provocative enough for his taste, presumably) saying he was “really disappointed” and if she were to do it again, she would be asked to go home. Another exchange shows White asking (or rather, telling) Zawaideh to cut her hair the following day “at shoulder length or above”, and that it’s “really important to [him]”. She then responds by declining to comply with this request, explaining that she is “very confident and happy with her long hair”, which elicits angry responses from White. Allegedly, the following day White went out of his way to avoid and ignore Zawaideh. This incident led to her unwilling separation from the group. Zawaideh did not hear from White or other management initially, but much later received word from the new band manager that the band had “decided to part ways with her”. Other band members called Zawaideh afterwards to let her know that they weren’t present at the time of the call as the manager claimed, nor did they have any part in her termination.

The accusations don’t stop at sexual harassment – Zawaideh is also seeking compensation for wages that she claims White stopped paying her. She alleges that she is owed about $42,000, as White stopped paying band members their contracted amount in January 2014 to “cut costs”. However, other band members’ payments were temporarily reinstated. Zawaideh’s payments were not, because as White told the other band members he believed she “did not need the money”. Additionally, Zawaideh is pursuing claims that she was misclassified as an independent contractor, and therefore is owed additional overtime pay.

In response to the allegations, White has issued a statement through his attorney, saying “Many years ago, I exchanged texts with a friend who is now using them to craft a bogus lawsuit….There is absolutely no coincidence to the timing of her claims, and we will defend them vigorously in court.” What he is referring to regarding the “timing of her claims” remains to be explained.

Zawaideh issued her own statement on the matter, saying, “I am pursuing this case because women should not have to tolerate harassment at work. Shaun White should not be allowed to do whatever he wants just because he is famous. Although I am embarrassed to have been treated this way, I cannot sit by and watch him do this to other women”.

Sexual harassment cases are seemingly on the rise in the entertainment industry, from the alleged victims of Bill Cosby coming forward to the multiple Fox News anchors alleging sexual harassment. Perhaps the occurrences of sexual harassment are not rising, but more people are willing to come forward about their experiences and fight for their rights.

 

Sources: https://www.scribd.com/document/321397378/Shaun-White-Legal-Complaint

http://www.tmz.com/2016/08/16/shaun-white-sued-graphic-sexual-harassment-allegations-penis-pics-fecal-matter-hair-demands/

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/05/shaun-white-is-being-sued-for-sexual-harassment.html

 

 

 

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: How You Can Protect Yourself

We’ve all had that co-worker. Perhaps they make “jokes” that are just a bit too personal. Maybe they don’t get the hint when you reject their dinner invitation (for the 3rd time). Or maybe they even get a little too touchy with their hugs and shoulder massages. But it’s nothing to cause a scene over, right?

Not necessarily.

Cosmopolitan magazine recently conducted a survey of 2,235 women, and the results were disheartening. According to the study, 1 in 3 women face sexual harassment in the workplace. That’s not to say that men never face sexual harassment in the workplace, but this particular survey focused on the statistics surrounding females.

So how can you tell if you’re being sexually harassed, and what can you do about it?

  1. Sexual harassment can be more than just unwanted touching

Of the women surveyed, 84% stated they experienced sexual harassment verbally. Many people are unaware that this falls under the category of sexual harassment! Other forms of sexual harassment may include lewd/inappropriate texts & emails, jokes/comments about your body or a specific gender, and of course unconsented physical contact. Additionally, many people do not know that sexual harassment can occur without the motive being sexual in nature. For example, a heterosexual male can still experience sexual harassment from another heterosexual male. Sexual harassment in the workplace need not come from someone of opposite gender or sexual orientation.

  1. Taking action is not only critical, but your right!

71% of the women who experienced sexual harassment in the workplace did not report it. Some reasons people may not report their experiences are because

  • They don’t realize they are being harassed
  • They are afraid of repercussions from the attacker
  • They are afraid of repercussions from the employer

However, in California sexual harassment in the workplace complaints fall under a special category of protected circumstances which cannot be used as grounds for termination. Retaliation in regards to reporting a perceived illegal activity (whether it turns out to actually be illegal or not) would also be unlawful.

Often, employers will first ask if you have explicitly told the harasser “no” (using that exact word or an equivalent phrase), or expressed to the harasser that their behavior is making you uncomfortable before upper management will get involved (depending on the severity of the situation). The expectation for you to be responsible for ending the problem can be nerve wracking of course, because you probably don’t want to make things even more awkward with the co-worker in question. However, it is important to protect your right to a comfortable & safe work environment, and simply saying “no” may be the first step. If you have already told your harasser how you feel, or you do not feel appropriate action has been taken by your employers to ensure your safety, it may be the right move to follow up with HR.

  1. Document all incidents and get things in writing when you can

If you feel that you are being subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, it is imperative to document as many details as possible about the incidents. Be sure to include dates, times, names of people involved, etc. Additionally, be sure to save all emails or texts messages which may include important details of the situation – whether from the harasser themselves, or you discussing the situation with another person. This will help further down the line if you decide to pursue a sexual harassment lawsuit or when speaking to management about your concern. The more thorough you are, the more “legitimate” your claims will appear to be.

  1. If the situation becomes threatening, contact the local authorities as soon as possible

A co-worker should never threaten your life, stalk you, or even allude to harming you. If their actions reach this level and you feel your safety may be in serious danger, please contact your neighborhood police.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is totally unacceptable. Find out what your options are to fight it legally at aegislawfirm.com

Sexually Harassed Female Farm Workers Resolve Suits

The Fresno office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reached an agreement with agricultural giant Zoria Farms regarding four sexual harassment lawsuits filed through the commission. Collectively, Zoria Farms will pay $333,000 to the four plaintiffs who alleged they were sexually harassed by two supervisors.

According to the suit, these two supervisors approached the women and propositioned them for sex. Throughout 2007 and 2008 the supervisors’ solicitations for dates and unwanted advances continued to go unnoticed by the company. The company was eventually sold to Zoria Farms, at which time the employees filed a formal sexual harassment complaint against these supervisors. During the company transition, Zoria Farms failed to rehire those who had those open and pending sexual harassment complaints.

There has been a disturbingly high number of sexual harassment cases that occur within the agricultural industry. As a result, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill last year that mandated all farm contractors, supervisors, and some workers undergo a sexual harassment training. Previous to this law, farms with 50 or more workers were subject to such training.

If you have been subject to sexual harassment, regardless of the industry. Contact an Aegis attorney immediately.

Source: the EEOC & USAttorneys

Tyler Perry’s Tyler Perry Getting Sued

Last year, news broke that famed film maker Tyler Perry was embroiled in a frightening stalker situation. Perry sued his alleged stalker for $125,000, outlining assault and emotional distress claims. Now the said stalker is firing back.

Male model, Joshua Sole, began working for Tyler Perry Studios in or about July last year. According to Perry in a November 7, 2014 Facebook post, Sole was “mentally disturbed” and obsessive over meeting Perry. Perry made these remarks when, three months into Sole’s employment, Sole was arrested for barricading himself in the mogul’s office and refusing to come out until Perry met with him.

Now Sole is asserting his innocence and is even taking further to allege sexual harassment on the part of Perry’s studio staff. In a federal lawsuit, Sole claims that his supervisor, Brett Hendrix, subjected him to constant harassment. As per the suit, Hendrix allegedly attempted to inappropriately touch Sole, asked for sex in exchange for drugs, engaged in sexting, requested sex, and called him inappropriate names.

Sole’s lawsuit is seeking $5 million in damages for the hostile work environment that caused embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional health damage. The model is also seeking libel damages for Perry’s online comment regarding his mental health.

Source: Project Q