Individuals in California working in the hospitality industry are likely interested in the sexual misconduct and harassment accusations that have caused celebrity chef Mario Batali to step away from his business empire. His businesses include famous restaurants and a television show on ABC.
In a rare display of bipartisan cooperation, members of the House of Representatives from both sides of the political aisle have voiced support for legislation introduced by a California Democrat that would introduce mandatory sexual harassment training for lawmakers and their staffs. During a Nov. 14 House hearing, Representative Jackie Speier pointed to a recent spate of sexual harassment allegations, which have been leveled against both Republicans and Democrats, as evidence that action is necessary.
When a California employee has a harassment complaint, human resources is supposed to talk to the accuser, the accused and any witnesses to the harassing behavior. Once that initial step has taken place, employees are supposed to be made aware of an investigation's findings. However, not all employers do this. In some cases, HR may try to claim that a complaint was never made or that an interview with a victim ever took place.
With surveys revealing that 25 percent of women and a smaller percentage of men endure sexual harassment at work, many people will likely witness the behavior while on the job in California. Over 70 percent of victims do not report their mistreatment because they fear retaliation. Co-workers typically stay silent as well, but their willingness to speak up could discourage an abusive workplace culture.
It is not unusual for women in California and the rest of the nation to be sexually harassed in the workplace. According to a survey that was conducted in 2015, 1 in 3 women reported being a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace at least once.
One of California's most iconic tech firms is feeling the heat after a former employee distributed an internal memo that read like a manifesto for gender discrimination. Search engine giant Google moved quickly to terminate the employment of the software engineer responsible for the memo, which claimed that women are biologically unsuited to jobs in the tech world. However, recent reports suggest that this employee may only be the tip of the workplace discrimination iceberg.
When California employees think about sexual harassment in the workplace, they probably think about inappropriate conduct involving a man and a woman. Even though it's not as prevalent as the male-on-female variety, female-on-female sexual harassment can and does occur.
In May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit sent a sexual harassment case back to a lower court for trial. In its ruling, it rejected a claim by the defendant, that was the plaintiff's employer, that the case should not go forward because there was no required EEOC charge of quid pro quo harassment. California employees might be interested to hear that the appeals court based its decision on the fact that no label is required to proceed with a sexual harassment claim.
When reports of sexual harassment began swirling around Fox News earlier this year, it was noted that employees never took advantage of the media organization's hotline. Like Fox News, many California companies maintain a hotline for employees to report incidents of sexual harassment. However, these types of hotlines are generally meant to legally protect the company and not actually prevent sexual harassment.
In California, the agricultural industry continues to be an economic powerhouse, generating tens of billions of dollars annually. Further up the coast in Washington state, a major sexual harrassment case has been filed in federal court by the state's attorney general, alleging that sexual harassment has become an "occupational hazard" for female farm workers at one company.