California laws protect employees from having to tolerate unwanted sexual advances in the workplace. When employees are subjected to unwanted sexually explicit comments, touching, jokes or images they have the right under employment laws to complain to their employers about the behavior without fear of losing their jobs. Employers have the obligation to prevent the behavior from happening or else they could be held liable for damages.
In March 2012, a man sued the Los Angeles Unified School District alleging that he was sexually harassed by the former Superintendent for the district. The man is an employee of the district. Recently, a Los Angeles judge has dismissed his case.
According to the man's claims, the former superintendent took the man to his family's ranch in July 2010. While spending the weekend at the ranch, the man claims that the superintendent constantly harassed him into engaging in unwanted sexual relations. The former superintendent, on the other hand, claims that he and the man engaged in consensual sexual behavior and that no harassment took place.
Last May, the school district and the man came to a settlement over the case where the man would leave his job but receive health benefits and a cash settlement. However, before the deal was finalized, the district made the settlement public. The man claimed that the public announcement further damaged his reputation and the deal fell apart.
After the case has moved forward, a judge has dismissed the claim completely. According to the judge, the man waited too long to file the case. Under current laws, sexual harassment cases must be filed within six months. The man plans to appeal the ruling and is considering filing another case with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
This case shows the importance of employees acting quickly after they have faced sexual harassment in the workplace. Employees do not have to suffer alone. Remedies are available, but only if action is taken quickly.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Judge rejects sex harassment claim against ex-L.A. Unified chief," Howard Blume, Feb. 17, 2013