California – November 12, 2021
The Sacramento Fire Department was just given the greenlight to enact a program aimed at diversifying its ranks, a move that follows several current and former firefighters allegedly experiencing racial harassment, sexual harassment, bullying and a hostile work environment. A female fire fighter in California received a substantial monetary settlement from the City of Sacramento over a decade ago for years of harassment in the workplace, and most recently two black fire fighters from the department filed suits for discrimination. Sexual and workplace harassment allegations must go through the proper channels to be heard and evaluated. The Sacramento Fire Department requires mandatory sexual harassment training:
- The city clerk shall provide sexual harassment training material, as required by California Assembly Bills 1825 and 1661, to all newly elected officials, appointed officials, and city employees within 30 days of taking office or becoming a city employee or volunteer.
- The city clerk shall provide sexual harassment training material to all newly elected officials, appointed officials, and city employees at least every two years.
- The city clerk shall regularly publish to the city’s website the status of sexual harassment training for all city employees. (Ord. 2017-0025 § 2).
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a longstanding problem in many work environments, but the protections from its continued growth continue to be expanded to be more inclusive as noted in 2020 Supreme Court of the United States ruling in favor of gay, lesbian, and transgender employee rights from discrimination based on sex.
According to an EEOC task force report, almost one third of the approximately 90,000 charges received by EEOC in fiscal year 2015 included an allegation of workplace harassment. This includes, among other things, charges of unlawful harassment on the basis of sex, race, disability, age, ethnicity/national origin, color, and religion. Victims of sex-based harassment often deny, or tone down an egregious situation to avoid, or ignore the negative behavior.
Third parties can report actions of harassment, and in some instances this type of “third-party reporting” reduces the stigma on the first accuser, or victim of the abuse. An estimated three out of four employees who have experienced some form of sexual harassment at work do not even report it to their supervisor, or human resources department. Victims and/or witnesses to sexual harassment, or workplace discrimination in Sacramento can report it. It is best to check with the employer policy manual to ascertain steps to follow at the specific workplace and an attorney experienced in workplace harassment can guide actions for victims to take regarding incident reporting.
Complaints should include proof of the allegations whenever possible to support claims taken to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, EEOC looks at the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A positive settlement award may be the result of a strong case presented by experienced legal counsel.
Hire an attorney.
Victims of sexual harassment have legal options against sexual harassment, and seeking legal counsel is the first thing a victim, witness, or third-party should do after reporting the abuse through the proper channels at a place of employment.
- Direct reporting to the managing director of the harasser, and the human resources office.
- Requesting mediation as an informal solution to resolve the office problems by utilizing the services of a trained mediator who may be able to facilitate communications between the parties in dispute.
- Grievance procedures. Many employers have policies to address grievances on equal employment opportunity that employee should review.
- All employees working in the United States have the option of making a formal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the alleged sexual harassment in the workplace, initiated within forty-five days of the alleged incident and follow all other requirements under the law.