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Sacramento Sexual Harassment Law Blog

Woman files lawsuit against former Santa Cruz mayor and husband

Employees should be safe at work; however, there are some instances in which employees are put in danger by the very people who should be working to protect them. This is the case when an employee is sexually harassed. Even if no physical harm comes to the person, the feelings of being violated and other emotional aspects of the events are often traumatic. A case involving a former Santa Cruz mayor and her husband highlight the horrible tragedy of sexual harassment.

The alleged sexual harassment occurred at Emily's Good Things to Eat from 2012 through May. A former employee has filed a lawsuit that lists the former mayor and her husband as defendants. The lawsuit alleges that the man groped the victim, smelled her belongings, smelled her hair, touched her hair, gave unwanted kisses and licked her coffee cup.

Is retaliation because of a qui tam case legal?

We have discussed a variety of whistleblower issues on this blog. It might interest some of our readers to know that there are specific protections in place for certain groups of whistleblowers, such as those who are involved in qui tam actions.

What is a qui tam action?

Is all workplace harassment the same?

When you decide to work for a company, there are likely a few things that you considered when you accepted the job. One of the factors was likely that you wanted to earn money. Another factor might have been how you felt you would like working at the company. Once you start working for that company, you might discover that the environment isn't what you thought it would be. While that might be just a luck-of-the-draw occurrence, it might also be because you are the victim of some form of workplace harassment.

What is workplace harassment?

Female lifeguard alleges harassment, case finally settled

Some people who read our blog might remember the show "Baywatch" that starred Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff. That show made the life of a lifeguard in California look almost magical. It seems as though the lifeguards were always having fun and living a glamorous life. That, however, is far from reality, especially if you consider the case that was recently settled regarding a female lifeguard.

The lawsuit alleged that a female lifeguard was subjected to a hostile work environment and sexual harassment during her time with the lifeguard division of the Fire Department. The woman alleges that the sexual harassment began long before she joined the division when she was 19. She claims that a supervisor with the division tried to get her to leave school with him when she was only 14.

Contract workers are also protected against sexual harassment

Contract workers are often in an interesting place when it comes to what rights they have. For example, they may not have the right to take paid sick days. However, according to a court in California, they do have the same rights to be protected from sexual harassment that are given to any other types of employees.

The ruling was made when a contact worker said that she was harassed by a police officer. That officer was from Oceanside. The woman who was harassed -- she said it happened on a repeated basis -- was a phlebotomist, and she worked with the police when they needed to have blood drawn.

Employees often ignore sexual harassment

There are many reasons sexual harassment in the workplace goes overlooked in California. Sometimes, employees are too concerned about losing their jobs to say anything; other times, they don't know where to turn. One of the biggest reasons, though, is that many employees just shrug it off and ignore it.

One young woman told the story about working as a waitress back when she was 18, in one of her first jobs. The young man who was her supervisor would often make sexual jokes and flirt with the staff. No one said anything.

You can pursue claims regarding sexual harassment and retaliation

Retaliation for reporting sexual harassment is illegal. That, however, doesn't stop some employers from making the workplace difficult for people who do file reports about sexual harassment. As we discussed last week, you can't let a fear of retaliation stop you from filing complaints about sexual harassment.

We know that dealing with sexual harassment at work isn't pleasant. We also understand that trying to put a stop to that harassment can often lead to new problems. Your employer might take illegal actions just because you don't want to be harassed.

Important facts regarding sexual harassment

Companies in California are bound by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says that sexual harassment is a type of discrimination. As such, all employees should know a few key facts about sexual harassment so that they can protect themselves if necessary.

First off, sexual harassment does not always look the same. In some cases, it could be as simple as a crass joke made in the workplace or a string of jokes. In other cases, it could be an unwanted sexual advance or some type of inappropriate touching. It could also be the demand for sexual favors, with the implied or spoken threat or termination if these things are not done. These are just a few examples, but they do show how wide the range can be.

Retaliation claims require serious and prompt action

Some employees who are victims of sexual harassment don't say anything about the harassment because they are concerned about retaliation. It is important for all employees to know that retaliation based on filing complaints of sexual harassment isn't something that is allowed.

When you file a complaint about sexual harassment and your employer takes adverse, or retaliatory, action after that, you can take action about the retaliation. You will have to show that your employer knew that you filed the sexual harassment complaint. You will also have to show that the retaliation wasn't because of actions you did, besides the sexual harassment complaint.

Employees have the right to work in a harassment-free environment

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of forms. The thread that binds them together is that all instances of sexual harassment involve some sort of sexually-related actions. Last week, we discussed the fact that transgender people are being subjected to sexual harassment. This is something that is unacceptable in all cases. We don't want any of our California neighbors to deal with unwanted sexual harassment.

Think about the media uproar when Bruce Jenner appeared as Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair. Many people were supportive of Jenner living life as Caitlyn. Other people, however, were horrified that a respected former Olympian would desire to live life as a woman. Regardless of which side a person is on, it is vital that they respect Caitlyn Jenner as a person if they were to work with her.

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