California – December 16, 2020
A firefighter in California received a substantial monetary settlement from the City of San Diego after years of harassment in the workplace. Allegations of sexual harassment were cited in a claim against the City stating retaliation against the long-time employee for reporting ill behavior. Sexual harassment in the workplace is nothing new, but the protections from its continued growth continue to be expanded to be more inclusive as noted in the 2020 United States Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay, lesbian, and transgender employee rights from discrimination based on sex. An attorney experienced in workplace harassment can guide actions for victims to take regarding incident reporting.
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 San Diego can report it. It is best to check with the employer policy manual to ascertain steps to follow at the specific workplace where the incident occurred and speak with legal counsel.
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.
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. An employer is obligated to assist in this process if an employee requests this method to resolve the work-related sexual harassment.
- Grievance procedures. Many employers have policies to address grievances on equal employment opportunity matters to be kept in house regarding alleged sexual harassment, depending upon the type of employment relationship between employees and the employer.
- 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, but it must be initiated within forty-five days of the alleged incident and follow all other requirements under the law. If an employee does not wish to proceed with any other steps before contacting EEOC, they do not need to and may seek alternate professional counsel for guidance.
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