The U.S. Forest Service employs many people in California and nationwide. Roughly 40,000 people work at the federal agency, and it unfortunately has a long history of sexual harassment complaints and retaliation. A class-action lawsuit targeted the agency in the 1970s after female employees experienced systemic discrimination. As recently as December 2016, an oversight panel reported that sexual harassment and assault remained rampant at the agency. The new director of the agency reported to Congress about recent steps taken to address an allegedly toxic workplace culture defined by sexual harassment, misconduct and bullying.
Sexual harassment is unfortunately common in California and in other states. The #MeToo movement has brought national media attention to a problem that has existed for many years. Experts say that one of the best ways for companies to prevent sexual harassment is to train their employees, especially supervisors who interact with employees frequently.
Google LLC is already the subject of two lawsuits in California that accuse the company of gender discrimination and tolerating harassment of female employees. A new lawsuit emerging from one of the company's out-of-state data centers provides an example of alleged sexual harassment against a male employee. The 63-year-old man filed a legal complaint alleging that he was wrongfully terminated after complaining about the sexual harassment that he experienced.
Sexual harassment has been in the news in California recently, continuing the #MeToo movement. The social awareness surrounding the issue has inspired many people to come forward about their experiences.
While Hollywood is in the spotlight for its sexual harassment issues, movie stars in California are not the only ones who have to deal with it. Those in the scientific community have asked the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to do more to stop harassment within its ranks. It specifically asks that those who are honored by the AAAS to be stripped of their awards if they are found to be engaged in harassing behavior.
Many nurses in California and around the country have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment on the job, and one report said that around 20 percent of nurses had done so in the past three years. As news of major scandals in the entertainment industry and the rise of the #MeToo movement have drawn major media attention to the issue of sexual assault and harassment, research indicates that these issues are also significant in the health care industry.
California residents are likely familiar with the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements that have given voice to many victims of sexual bullying, assault and harassment. Much of this harassment took place at the workplace, and much of it was perpetrated by men in positions of power.
Sex and gender discrimination have recently been in the spotlight as prominent individuals, companies and politicians have come under fire. More and more employers are being accused as well. But we might all ask, why now? How come everyone is speaking out against these individuals and companies now? Simply put, because when one person speaks up, two people speak up, and so on.
We may not have a definite answer as to why sexual harassment continues to occur at work, but we do know that both state and federal laws are on your side and protect employees from sexual harassment at work. Workplace sexual harassment can be defined as an unwelcome sexual advance or conduct of a sexual nature which unreasonably interferes with an employee's performance of his or her job duties, creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Like many other forms of discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal under California and federal law. The first step to preventing discrimination at work is understanding your rights.