Case Study On Sexual Harassment In California
The most recent sexual harassment case that I handled was settled, so there are certain details that I cannot address. It started when I answered my phone and heard in a trembling voice, “Brian, I have been sexually harassed at work.” I invited her to come to the office to share her story. She came to my office a couple of days later and told me that her boss had been saying and doing things that were making her feel uncomfortable, and it had been going on a while. She was embarrassed and frightened about what could happen to her if she reported it, and even worse, what would keep happening to her by the harasser if she did not report it. She was sincere and needed my help. I immediately decided to take her case. As I developed the information supporting her case, I discovered other coworkers who had similar claims against the very same person. As I investigated, I learned that the employer—rather than disciplining the harasser—transferred the harasser to a different location where he continued to harass other people. It was unbelievable. I ended up speaking with dozens of people, and five others had cases and wanted me to represent them as well. In the end, I helped six women stand up for themselves and fight back, ridding the workplace of the harasser and the upper management enablers who turned a blind eye to the harassment, and ended up themselves getting fired for their inaction. Unfortunately, as is common in these cases, not all the victims wanted to get involved or file a lawsuit. That happens, and we just dealt with it and moved on. I wish they would have joined us, but in the end, they have to accept the consequences of their own choices.
Ultimately, it is our goal to change the corporate culture that allows for harassment to occur in the first place and improve the safety of these work environments. Sexual harassment is all about abuse and power. The harassers are typically doing what they do because they are in a position of power and they use this power to demean and belittle subordinates. It is terrifying to have to endure this, and the power and abuse are not limited by gender. I have handled cases involving all genders and all types of situations, whether women who are harassed by men, men who are harassed by men, women who are harassed by women, and transgender individuals who are harassed. The common element is an abuse of power that comes out in the form of unwanted harassing conduct or sexual advances. It is always difficult for the very first victim to speak out. But, coming forward is the first step toward fixing the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, and it is never too late to come forward with information. This courageous young woman had a lot to lose, but she had reached her breaking point and decided, correctly, that she was not going to be a victim any longer and wanted to stand up and fight back. I am so proud of her for doing this because it was through her amazing strength and courage that she was able to bring about real change that to this day is helping every single one of the employees at the business because no longer is sexual harassment ignored or tolerated.
Was The Settlement Significant And Did The Claimants Receive Significant Compensation?
The settlement was significant, but the details are confidential.
How Did Your Clients React To The Results You Achieved For Them?
The clients were astounded with the results that I was able to achieve for them. It really was amazing for them to be a part of this process, when all along they were frightened and intimidated, but now they walk tall having stood up for themselves and fought back.
How Did You Feel About The Results You Got For The Clients?
The results achieved were extraordinary and made possible by the fact that my clients trusted us and believed in our willingness to work hard for them in order to achieve justice. It was a long, difficult battle, fraught with pitfall after pitfall. It was a gut-wrenching series of revelations—some good and some bad. There were victims who outright lied based on a fear of losing their jobs, and these individuals I do hope eventually find peace and resolution for their conduct and what happened to them. There were coworkers who were promoted for keeping silent, who succumbed to the pressure to protect the employer even if it meant that they ended up being “forgetful” or could not “recall.” In the end, everyone has to live with the consequences of their actions. I hope those people can learn from their actions and move forward in life in a better place.
In the end, while we are extremely happy for our clients that we were able to get these results for them, as measured in dollar terms, there is more to our feelings that just getting our clients a recovery. It is also the aftermath of this settlement that we take great pride in. Because of our work, and the result, we made it happen for change to take place for the better, which helps every single employee at this company. We made the employer, its HR department, its supervisors and managers see firsthand what kind of harms take place when employees are harassed at work. They had to endure this lawsuit, and the investigation and all of our work, where we got all up in their business and combed through documents, records, and got thousands of pages of testimony from everyone we could find, and as a result, we have no doubt that the employer now takes the issue of sexual harassment seriously, instead of treating it as insignificant, or some kind of joke to be laughed about. We take pride in producing real, lasting changes that we know helped instill a true desire to prevent harassment. There is no doubt that they now take the issue of sexual harassment seriously, and are not just blowing it off and ignoring that it is happening. Now, because of what we did, and through the courage and willingness of our clients to stand up and do the right thing, there is true accountability, so that harassers are not enabled or emboldened because now they know that there will be true accountability from swift, appropriate disciplinary action when a report of sexual harassment is made to the HR team.
We managed to clean house all the way up the chain of command, to the very top of the organization, and it is this, combined with the joy and elation of settling a case and winning it for our clients that drives us to continue doing what we do.
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