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Sacramento Employment Law Blog

Congress and sexual harassment

In an unusual display of bipartisan cooperation, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill on Feb. 6 that would reform the way that Congress handles allegations of sexual harassment. Backers of the bill include California Democrat Jackie Speier and senior members of the House Administration Committee, but some have criticized the proposed rules because they make it more difficult for members of the public to learn about inappropriate behavior on Capitol Hill and place roadblocks in the way of sexual harassment victims who wish to sue their abusers.

House Speaker Paul Ryan paid no attention to these complaints in a statement that claimed the bill delivered real change. The proposed measures eliminate the need for accusers to attend counseling and mediation sessions for 30 days, and they also task the House Ethics Committee with investigating allegations of sexual misconduct. This worries some analysts because the House Ethics Committee does most of its work behind closed doors and has been reluctant to sanction lawmakers in the past.

Reasons workplace sexual harassment is not reported

Some California employees may be reluctant to report sexual harassment at work. The Society for Human Resource Management found that of the 11 percent of employees who said they had been sexually harassed in the last year, more than three-fourths did not report the harassment. One problem that emerged was that employees might not know the specifics of their employers' sexual harassment policies, including whether they would be protected from retaliation. Many people also felt that reporting the harassment would not change anything.

Among human resources professionals, just over one-third said that in the last year, there had been one or more allegations of sexual harassment at their company. More than half said they thought minor incidents of sexual harassment went unreported at their organization. Just over one-third of non-management employees believed this. The chief executive officer of SHRM said that cultures within organizations could allow sexual harassment to thrive. In some cases, people might not realize that some behaviors are inappropriate. The most commonly reported form of sexual harassment was verbal.

Retaliation isn't lawful after a factual complaint

Employees are sometimes frightened to speak up when things are amiss at work. When there are potentially illegal activities, the employees have every right to speak up. In some cases, these individuals will have a duty to speak up. It is imperative that you don't let fear of retaliation stop you from reporting illegal actions at work.

When things like harassment or discrimination cloud the workplace, they need to be stopped. Employers who retaliate take away the safe environment at the workplace and indirectly encourage illegal behavior.

Lawsuits accuse Monster Energy of sexual harassment

The California-based Monster Beverage Corporation is facing a barrage of lawsuits from women who claim that executives at the energy drink maker harass and abuse female workers. The women say that they were routinely exposed to discrimination in the workplace and faced retaliatory action when they spoke up. One of the company's vice presidents is named in the filings. He is accused of using inflammatory language about women and gossiping about the sex lives of female employees.

The litigation also mentions many instances where women were allegedly reprimanded or fired after complaining about the way they were being treated by male Monster Energy executives. One woman says that she was assured that her concerns would remain private only to have them shared with the vice president involved. Another of the plaintiffs claims that she was put on performance review and subsequently terminated after speaking up about inappropriate touching and language.

How do you prove wrongful termination?

In our last post, we talked about a few steps you should take in the immediate aftermath of losing your job. In many cases, losing your job isn't a malicious act by an employer or a product of wrongful termination. However, there are cases where an employer tramples on the rights of an employee and thus turns the firing into an illegal act of wrongful termination.

This brings up an important question: what do you do when you think you've been wrongfully terminated?

Lost your job? Here are some points to remember

Losing your job can be incredibly troubling, especially when you didn't see it coming. As difficult as it might be, make sure that you are taking steps to ensure that you were not terminated for an unlawful reason.

Keeping your wits about you is important during this time. From the second you find out that you aren't going to be allowed to remain at your current job, you must ensure that you are behaving in a way that will work for your future.

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Law Offices of James E. McGlamery
775 University Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95825

Phone: 916-229-8491
Fax: 916-446-6218
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