Sometimes it seems as if sex is everywhere in today’s culture. While that may be true for pop culture, unwanted sexual behavior has no place in California workplaces. While sexual images may be pervasive on television, in movies and in music, California employees do not have to go to work and deal with sexual comments, jokes, images or assault. California employee laws protect employees and provide punishments for employers when employees are subjected to sexual harassment.
Recently, a former Los Angeles employee has filed a sexual harassment suit against Los Angeles Councilman Mitch Englander’s chief of staff — John Lee. The woman was apparently a former aid in the office between Feb. 2012 and April 2013. In the suit the woman claims that Lee made inappropriate sexual comments to the woman including asking her about the sexual performance of her boyfriend.
Additionally, the woman claims that she was denied a position as a public safety deputy because Lee said it was not a job for a “petite pretty girl.” When the woman complained about the sexual harassment to Englander, she says that she was met with more inappropriate sexual comments from the Councilman.
Eventually, the woman felt that the sexual harassment was so pervasive in the office that she had no choice but to leave her job.
This suit is the second sexual harassment suit for the city of Los Angeles recently. Another suit has also been filed against Councilman Jose Huizar. These lawsuits have led some to question whether better sexual harassment training needs to be given to public officials.
These suits are important because they highlight the fact that no matter who an employer is, that employer is not exempt from sexual harassment laws. Employees — at any position — should know that they do not have to suffer such treatment.
Source: Los Angeles Daily News, “Sex harassment suit filed against chief of staff to Los Angeles Councilman Mitch Englander,” Dakota Smith and Rick Orlov, Oct. 18, 2013