Many employees in California have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment at work. Such problems have especially plagued the United States Forest Services over the past several decades. However, the federal agency is making efforts to stop workplace harassment and other misconduct.
Discontent among technology workers in California and worldwide has prompted major companies to reform how they handle sexual harassment claims. Facebook, Inc. announced that it will stop requiring employees to address their sexual harassment complaints through arbitration. This decision arose one day after Google made a similar move to end the practice.
Far too many people in Alameda County continue to face sexual harassment on the job despite the rise of the #MeToo movement and the public conversation about unwanted sexual advances at work. The acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, said that this kind of inappropriate workplace behavior continues to be pervasive and persistent, a common topic of complaints received by the commission. She noted that she was appalled by the volume of sexual harassment complaints received by the agency, indicating the scope of the issue.
Hotel housekeepers in California usually enter rooms alone as they perform their cleaning duties. Unfortunately, this private environment often exposes them to assaults by guests. A survey conducted by the labor union Unite Here found that 53 percent of its members in Chicago and Seattle had experienced sexual harassment on the job.
Across California, workers in any industry might experience sexual harassment. A survey conducted by CareerBuilder collected responses from 809 full-time employees in the private sector and concluded that 12 percent of them had been sexually harassed at work. Reporting the behavior to their employers, however, proved to be the exception rather than the rule. Among victims, 72 percent of them stayed silent. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a victim has options for pursuing a remedy.
For a federal employee dealing with sexual harassment in a California workplace, there are a number of guidelines to keep in mind that make reporting it somewhat different from doing so in private industry. Harassment may come from a supervisor, a coworker or someone outside the agency such as a contractor. A person does not have to be the object of the harassment to be considered the victim. A previous relationship between the person who is harassed and the person doing the harassing does not make sexual harassment acceptable. Sexual harassment is not necessarily related to gender or sexual orientation.
Sexual harassment may be a problem for California employers because of a failure to enforce workplace policies related to that issue. In some cases, managers and employees may fail to hold themselves to the standards that they expect others to abide by. Facebook has gone public with its own sexual harassment policy as well as its policy against bullying in the workplace. While it doesn't claim to have all the answers, the company believes that it can help others create better policies.
California residents who are used to waking up with the "Today Show" may be interested to learn that, on Nov. 29, long-time host Matt Lauer was suddenly fired from NBC. The firing reportedly came just hours after an unknown individual claimed that the former host had acted sexually inappropriately towards her during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The numerous recent news reports and the #metoo campaign have shed light on the prevalent problem of sexual harassment in society and in California. Workplaces are not immune, and many workers are the targets of sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace as a forbidden form of sex discrimination, and it is imperative that employers take steps to prevent it from happening.
Statistics indicate that about 71 percent of women decide against reporting workplace sexual harassment due to the fear of being retaliated against. However, there are certain steps that individuals can take to help prevent future incidences of sexual harassment and support their colleagues.