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Sacramento Sexual Harassment Law Blog

What does equal employment law say about gender?

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 says that businesses cannot discriminate in providing wages to people who are performing equal work based on gender. That means that individuals who are handling the same responsibilities at the same quality level for the same period of time cannot make different wages solely because one is a women and one is a man. The act would likely also come into play in situations involving transgendered individuals.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 goes even further. It protects people from discrimination in hiring or promotions based on gender as well as religion, race, national origin or color. This means that employers cannot base a decision between equally qualified candidates based solely on one of these factors. Businesses also cannot promote or choose not to promote a person based on these factors.

How are whistleblowers protected?

Whistleblowers -- employees that report unsafe or illegal activity within their companies -- are protected by a number of federal and state laws. The Occupations Safety and Health Administration has a Whistleblower Protection Program that enforces over 20 federal statutes that protect those who make such reports.

OSHA's program protects those who report issues of workplace safety, environmental or financial reform, and issues in a number of industries, including securities, maritime and railroad and commercial transportation. One of the main components of these statues is that whistleblowers are generally protected from retaliation in the workplace because of their reports to legal or regulatory bodies.

Workplace retaliation is about fear

Many people assume that workplace retaliation is about getting even or getting revenge. For example, your boss could make sexual advances on you, you could reject them and file a complaint, and then he could demote you or fire you. It seems like a clear-cut case of trying to make your life worse because you didn't give in.

However, some experts say that the goal isn't really getting even at all. It's more about fear.

Certain reasons for termination are illegal

When a person gets terminated from a job, one of the first things he or she needs to do is to determine why he or she was let go. There are many reasons why a person might get terminated. Inadequate job performance or similar concerns are two of the possible reasons; however, some reasons for termination aren't so easy to determine.

In the case of someone who has filed complaints about a company or who has accused management of sexual harassment, the termination might actually be considered wrongful termination because of the complaint that was filed. Those terminations are against federal laws that forbid termination as a retaliatory action after a complaint.

Woman sues for wrongful termination after sexual harrasment

A woman in California is suing her employer after she says the employer fired her for wrong reasons. She says that she was fired for reporting an incident with one of her boss's clients. She claims that her termination was retaliation for making a police report.

According to reports, the woman worked as a dental assistant. Charlie Sheen came into the dentist office with his bodyguard. Reportedly, Sheen was high on drugs and alcohol during his visit. The woman's lawsuit claims that Sheen groped her and threatened her repeatedly during the visit.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is never acceptable

An employer who allows sexual harassment to occur in the business is likely going to have serious legal issues. It is important for victims of sexual harassment at work to understand that they have the right to take action to make the sexual harassment stop.

If the sexual harassment continues, the victim might choose to take further action against the employer. We can help employees who have been sexually harassed to learn about their options for dealing with the harassment.

Transgender employees might be harassed or face discrimination

Employers in California have a lot of different factors to consider when they are trying to ensure that workers aren't being subjected to harassment, discrimination or a hostile work environment. One particularly sensitive issue that employers aren't always aware of is gender equality. That leaves workers who are transgender at an increased risk of suffering from discrimination, harassment or a hostile work environment. In some cases, the worker might be retaliated against or wrongfully terminated.

Gender identity discrimination can occur in several forms. Employers who terminate people who are transgender or people who are planning a transition are often discriminating. Employers who don't allow employees to use the restroom that is appropriate based on their gender identity and those who permit off-color jokes about the transgender employee are also allowing discrimination and sexual harassment to occur.

Sexual harassment lawsuit resolved in federal court

A hostile work environment caused by sexual harassment is something that no employee should have to deal with. In fact, that type of situation is against federal laws. One company recently found out just how seriously the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission takes claims of sexual harassment, retaliation and a hostile work environment.

The EEOC filed a case against VXI Global Solutions in federal court. That case was recently resolved when the court approved a settlement that included $600,000 for nine employees, three men and six women, as well as other terms.

Learn how to handle retaliation and wrongful termination

Facing a situation at work that makes you uncomfortable doesn't make doing your job easy. When that situation is something that is illegal, you might opt to speak out against it. In the case of sexual harassment, you might opt to file a complaint with the appropriate person in your company. In the case of illegal actions by your employer, such as federal law violations, you might opt to contact the appropriate agency to file a report. It is vital that you understand your what rights you have after you take action against the issues.

One important point that you have to understand is that you can't be subjected to retaliation or wrongful termination. This means that your employer can't fire you, demote you, or take other adverse actions against you because of the complaints you filed.

What are different examples of retaliation by an employer?

We have discussed a variety of issues related to employees filing complaints against employers. In almost every case, we have mentioned that employers can't retaliate against employees who file valid complaints against them. Retaliation is any adverse action by employers because of complaints about protected activities.

What are adverse actions?

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