Category: Sexual Harassment

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

Female Comedians Will Face Sexual Harassment at Work Everyday

Jen Grant, a comedian from Toronto, started a set at a corporate event, ready to get some laughs. Grant has been a comedian for 16 years. That day, rather than leaving the stage with a smile on her face, she left the stage in tears. She had never cried after a set before in her entire career.

While doing her set, a man in the audience spoke, in what Grant described as a “rapey” voice, “There’s a 51 percent chance that my buddy here will have sex with you, and I will take the other 49%.” Grant took to her blog after the show, titling her post, “I was sexually harassed at work.”

Since the days Grant posted in her blog, there have been both supporters and critics. The comedy industry is not void of sexism; many male comedians actually embrace it for material. The most difficult realization to swallow, however, is that any workplace can be rampant with sexual harassment.

According to a study done last year, the most sexually harassing job is being a server in the food industry. Not only is a server susceptible to harassment from patrons, but he or she can get heckled and harassed by owners, managers, etc. 37% of sexual harassment claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were from restaurant servers.

The technology industry also sees continuous sexual harassment complaints; many that go unheard. In an industry that is primarily male driven, female victims of sexual harassment feel unable to speak in case it makes them look weak or the tables are turned against them.

If you feel you have experienced sexual harassment on the job, please contact one of our Aegis attorneys today.

Source: sheknows.com: EEOC

Forever 21 Sued by Transgender Employee

Alexia Daskalakis began working for a Forever 21 store in New York in 2011 as a sales associate…and a man. Three year’s into Alexia’s tenure, she began her physical transition from male to female, and thus the harassment and discrimination began.

Though she had identified as female previously, in January 2014, Alexia began presenting herself in a more traditionally feminine way—wearing makeup, dressing more womanly. At this point in time, Alexia has also been promoted to the role of visual merchandiser and was responsible for setting up window displays.

Alexia had begun taking hormone pills for her physical transition in August 2014. Supervisors and co-workers, male and female alike, immediately began harassing Alexia, subjugating her gender identity. One manager called her a “hot mess” and told her that she looked “offensive,” asserting “in my eyes and the in the company’s eyes, you’re still a male.”

Alexia was sent home from a shift one day for not abiding by male dress code and following the female dress code. The manager who sent her home that day, also told her, “you used to be a hard worker when you were a guy, but not anymore.” Alexia was fired the following January.

The lawsuit alleges that the company discriminated against Alexia based on gender identity, a protected class is becoming more and more indoctrinated into various anti-discrimination laws and labor codes.  Filed last month, this lawsuit comes in the wake of a different lawsuit against Saks Fifth Avenue for similar claims. The Saks suit settled only a few weeks before Alexia’s was filed

Source: Fortune Magazine