Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace occurs quite a bit in California. Most employment lawyers across California still receive several calls per week regarding some sort of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment typically falls within the umbrella of “hostile work environment,” which is generally offense verbal comments or uncalled for physical touching. In order to prove the existence of sexual harassment, the employee most show that he or she was a victim of unwanted sexual comments or touching, and the sexual harassment was so serious that it altered the employee’s working environment into an abusive working environment.
The common sequence to these types of cases is twofold: 1) the employee complains about sexual harassment, and 2) then the employee is terminated for some arbitrary or made up reason.
Sexual Harassment Case Example – EEOC v. Zoria Farms
Although this is a federal case, Zoria nonetheless is a great case example of sexual harassment in the workplace. Plaintiffs were female employees of Zoria Farms, a large dried fruits company. Plaintiffs sued arguing that they were not re-hired for their current position as retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment. During their employment, Plaintiffs were constantly victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. Coworkers would make sexual comments, leer at them, hug, try and kiss, asked them out on dates, and even requested sex from them. Plaintiffs complained numerous times to Defendant, but nothing changed because the employer took no steps to rectify the situation. The Plaintiffs were not re-hired for their position.
Plaintiffs filed suit through the EEOC alleging, among other things, sexual harassment. Like many civil lawsuits, the parties in Zoria entered into a settlement agreement prior to trial. The settlement agreement called for the Plaintiffs to be awarded $330,000 paid by Defendant, and the company was to implement sexual harassment training. If you want to review more facts about the Zoria decision, visit the EEOC website here.
Labor Law Attorneys & Sexual Harassment
Sadly, what happened to the employees in Zoria is pretty common throughout California and the nation. However, cases such as Zoria reaffirm that if an individual is wronged, then justice will be served if they have a meritorious case. If you feel you have been sexually harassed at work, or retaliated against for complaining about sexual harassment, please contact a sexual harassment lawyer as soon as possible. Generally, the statute of limitations for sexual harassment cases in California is short, so don’t sit on your legal rights. Contact someone as soon as you feel the harassment has occurred.