Category: Gender Discrimination

Multi-Million Dollar Payout for Unnamed Teen

A 17 year old teenager and her guardians received a high paying victory for an employment case that was not only sexual harassment but also dubbed “sexual molestation.” The plaintiff, identified only as S.W. due to her age, sued employer U.S. Metro Group through her guardian.

Plaintiff, who was 15 at the time of the incidents, began working for U.S. Metro Group to help pay for an expensive cheerleader uniform. An employee of the company, Luis Morales, knew the plaintiff needed money because she was friends with Morales’ daughter. Morales was the one who offered plaintiff the job at the cleaning company. Plaintiff accepted the offer and began working with Morales at his night job cleaning buildings.

It was at that point plaintiff alleges Morales took advantage of her, “exploiting her sexually.” Morales has been criminally prosecuted for these charges as well. The company responded to plaintiff’s position by stating that plaintiff was never a formal employee of the company. Company policy forbids minors and non-employees from being brought to job sites, and U.S. Metro Group had no knowledge of Morales bringing the plaintiff to his job. In fact both plaintiff and Morales kept the situation a secret from the company.

Plaintiff sued in January 2013 for the following claims: sexual assault and battery; sexual harassment; failure to prevent harassment; negligence; negligent hiring and training; and infliction of emotional distress.

A jury on March 20, 2015 decided in the plaintiff’s favor, finding Morales 40 percent negligent and the company 60 percent. Plaintiff was awarded $150,000 for economic damages and $2.5 million for non-economic damages adding up to $2.65 million in an overall award.

Source: Daily Journal

Sexual Harassment Isn’t Uniquely American

Svetlana Lokhova is a British banker whose job matched something you would expect in a movie or television show. She kept insane hours, made a sizable income (approximately $1.1 million a year), and had to endure a misogynistic, harassing environment.

Lokhova worked for the Russian bank, Sberbank CIB in London. From the outset, she had to endure constant degrading comments and bullying. She was often called “Crazy Miss Cockhead” and “Miss Bonkers” and accused of being a drug addict. Since she was constantly being called these names, the company began to suspect that she actually was on drugs and was forced to undergo a drug test. She tested negative and passed.

On top of the drug addiction taunts, the men of the department had no shame in commenting on her body. On several occasions, she was told that the only reason she got hired was “because of her t—s.” the sexual harassment got so severe, that despite the healthy salary, Lokhova had to leave her position and take a leave of absence. She suffered a mental breakdown.

Lokhova’s claims eventually found its way to the Central London Employment Tribunal who reviewed the case. They ruled in her favor, awarding her the equivalent of approximately $4.7 million. Her award was broken down into lost earnings, damages for hurt feelings, and aggravated damages. The bank was further chastised for not taking proper disciplinary action against the men who were involved. In fact, the ring leader of bunch was given $250,000 to leave the company.

As a result of her traumatic experiences, the Tribunal found that Lokhova may never be able to work in finance again as she is still “suffering from a moderately severe psychiatric illness.”

April 14th is Equal Pay Day

Today is a symbolic day for those who continue to fight for equal pay. Women typically earn $.78 to a man’s $1.00. April 14th marks the time of year when women catch up to men’s salaries from the previous calendar year. Why is that? There are plenty of answers: hours worked, discrimination in the workplace, job choice, etc. We analyze some of these issues below.

Blatant gender discrimination and objectification is not as relevant these days as it was five or six decades ago, however, there are still road blocks to a woman’s success in the employment force. Though women are more likely to go to college than men, some “traditional” concerns still make it difficult for a woman to get passed the same obstacles from the ‘50s and 60s. For example, no matter how educated a woman is, if she decides to have children while pursuing her career, it is to her detriment that a company lacks ample maternity leave or help for childcare.

However, there are always two sides to every story. There are ways women can take the initiative to help narrow the gender wage gap, as well. Statistically, women don’t ask for raises or higher job salaries upon being offered the job like men do. According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, only 27% of women asked for a raise during a year period as opposed to 84% of men. Some, though not all, of the gender gap can be explained and solved if women took the money on the table just by asking for it.

There is no easy or simple fix to the wage gender gap. However, both sides need to work together to make it possible for Equal Pay Day’s objective come true.

Source: Wall Street Journal and Washington Post

A Wildfire in Silicon Valley Ignited

After decades of thinking, “this is just the way things are” the defeat of Ellen Pao ignited a new sensitivity to possible gender discrimination, especially in Silicon Valley. Thus far, two new lawsuits have been filed in the technology mecca, both by women complaining of discrimination and bias based on sex.

Elisabeth Sussex, former counsel for wearable technology company Jawbone, file a wrongful termination suit against her former employer. She alleges that over a year earlier, she filed a complaint against the chief technology officer, Michael Luna for his demeaning behavior. Regardless of her performance, Sussex always received a negative review from Luna. The most recent one being only one month before her termination. She was demoted based on, what she alleges to be, inaccurate and fabricated facts.

Sussex was terminated in April 2014. She further alleges that Luna’s behavior specifically turned female employees away and that kind of behavior was saved for female employees only.

Another Silicon Valley lawsuit details not only gender discrimination, but race discrimination and sexual harassment as well. Heather McCloskey worked for Paymentwall Inc., an online based payment system. McCloskley alleges that her supervisor, Benoit Boisset  said she was in need of a good spanking because she was a “bad girl.” Benoit also compared McCloskey’s chest to an airport runway and mimed oral sex acts toward her.

McCloskey complained, in writing to the CEO, and was fired two weeks later. McCloskey, who was only twenty-three at the time of the incident, had work piled on her with impossible expectations—a mere pretext for her termination.

Pao, though not a favorable verdict for the plaintiff, opened many other Silicon Valley women’s eyes to the possible disparate treatment around them.

Source: Daily Journal

How the Pao Decision Will Alter the Landscape

To many, it was considered a loss and a set up back to women, especially in the Silicon Valley industry. To many women, however, it was a victory for a marginalized, underrepresented minority in their trade.

Ellen Pao, a former junior partner for Kleiner Perkins Caufiled & Byers, sued the company for allegedly failing to promote her due to her gender. She claimed her performance was exceptional, beyond many of her male colleagues who were still promoted over her. She wrote a memo describing what she felt was gender discrimination. Pao was subsequently fired for “poor performance” not too long after the incident.

Following her termination, she filed a law suit detailing much of the same complaints she had while she was employed, but now with a wrongful termination claim. This was back in 2012. The trial for her case began in February 2015, and on March 27, 2015, a jury decided against Pao. It agreed with the venture capitalist firm that Pao was terminated for viable performance reasons.

While it was not an obvious victory, Pao, who is now interim CEO of Reddit, is being touted for her fight. Her case and trial has shed national light on the nature of the Silicon Valley’s attitude toward females in leadership roles. It is clear that there is a problem, and Pao’s case hopefully is a step in the right direction toward equality in tech and business. In fact, female tech workers took out a full page ad in the Palo Alto Daily Post thanking Pao for speaking up, The ad, entirely black except for one large caption in the middle, says, “Thanks Ellen.”

Source: NY Magazine & Huffington Post