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Sexual harassment still alive and well in California

Sexual harassment is a major problem in the American workforce. In recent months, there have been numerous reports of sexual harassment in both private and public institutions. Despite ongoing attempts to curb such behavior, and existing employment law, women and men are often subject inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace. California workers might be interested to read about a recent case involving a Bay-area venture capital firm.

According to a news report, a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and retaliation was recently filed against CMEA Capital, a California-based venture capital firm. The three plaintiffs claim that the former president of the company behaved in a sexually and racially inappropriate manner and described multiple acts of harassment in their complaint. The women further claim that after they reported the harassment to company management little was done to protect them.

Despite the former president's denials, the plaintiffs' claim that an independent investigation was conducted by an outside human resources firm, which corroborated their version of events. The plaintiffs claim that due to the independent investigation the company bought out the former president's interest in the company and formally dismissed him. The women claim that following the buyout of the former president they were subject to retaliation.

Both California state laws and federal laws prohibit sexual harassment in the work place. The EEOC defines sexual harassment in the workplace as unwelcome sexual advances or sexual conduct that unreasonably interferes with a person's ability to do their job or create a hostile work environment. If the person committing the acts is in authority, or the company knows or should have known about the treatment, the employer can also be held liable.

Source: New York Times, "Venture Capitalists Face Another Sexual Harassment Suit," Nicole Perlroth, March 12, 2013

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