A group of female firefighters from Region 5 — in California — of the U.S. Forest Service are preparing to sue the federal government. The group claims that they have been subject to sexual harassment and other sexual abuse while on the job. The group claims that it has complained about the problem with the government before but no action was taken.

The group includes at least 25 women who say they have faced both physical and sexual assaults. This conduct included inappropriate voicemails and texts, inappropriate touching and unwanted sexual advances. Furthermore, the group says that they have faced retaliation including verbal comments and being passed over for promotions for complaining about the sexual harassment.

This is not the first time a group of women from the Forest Service in California have complained of a hostile work environment. A similar suit was brought in 2011, but was eventually dismissed by a judge.

California workers have the right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace. When sexual harassment occurs, it can make it difficult for people to get their job done. People should feel safe and be free from unwanted contact at work. Under employment laws, employers have the duty to stop a hostile work environment from developing. Once notified of the illegal conduct, employers must stop it and they cannot retaliate against workers who complain about sexual harassment.

However, not every employer follows these rules. In these cases, California employees — like the firefighters here — have legal rights. By taking legal recourse, people can stop the humiliating treatment for themselves and their co-workers. Furthermore, depending on the facts in each case, people may be entitled to compensation for the harm they have suffered.

Source: The Daily Caller, “Lawsuit: Obama admin failing to address rampant sexual abuse in Forest Service,” Michael Volpe, Feb. 28, 2014