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.
Most California residents have likely heard about Bill O'Reilly being fired recently from his job with Fox News. One explanation given for O'Reilly's termination after years of sexual abuse allegations leveled against him was that the landscape in corporate America has changed in recent years. Low employee morale and the loss of advertisers were other reasons cited for his ousting from the network.
Employees in New York who attempt to resolve sexual harassment issues in the workplace might find that their company is more interested in protecting itself than preventing sexual harassment. This appears to have been the case in some recent high-profile cases, such as a class-action arbitration against Sterling Jewelers. Employees reported that calling the internal sexual harassment hotline could be negative for their careers. The company's internal arbitration system also prevented them from resolving the harassment outside the company.
Sexual harassment is a pervasive issue in the workplace. California workers should know that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed filed a lawsuit against Dollar General Store, Inc., alleging the sexual harassment of a female employee. Dollar General is one of the nation's fastest growing, small-box discount retailers, based on information on its website. It operates more than 13,000 stores in 43 states including California.
While most Californians likely understand their company's policies regarding workplace sexual harassment, they might not know what to do when their harassers are clients that are important to their companies' bottom lines. Handling sexual harassment from a customer or a contractor may be delicate for harassed victims.
California residents may have heard about some of the prominent sexual harassment cases that have been in the news lately. Throughout the presidential campaign, there were allegations of sexual harassment made against a presidential candidate, a former president and the former CEO of Fox News. With the public thinking more about the issue of sexual harassment, some people believe that there could be an increase in sexual harassment lawsuits this year.