Uber Technologies Inc. has been in the eye of the storm over sexual harassment at technology companies in California. After investigating complaints that began arising in 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that it fined Uber $4.4 million. Investigators determined that the company had allowed a workplace culture that inflicted sexual harassment on female employees and retaliated against workers who complained.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has announced that a man who complained about sexual harassment at a California fast-food restaurant will be paid $95,000 in damages and back pay. The federal agency filed a lawsuit on the man's behalf against Chipotle Mexican Grill in 2017. The Newport Beach-based chain has also agreed to hold anti-harassment training sessions at 27 restaurants in the San Jose area, according to the Dec. 3 announcement.
The definition of sex discrimination has become a significant legal issue in California courts and those across the country. Many federal appeals courts have upheld an understanding of sex discrimination that also prohibits discriminating against LGBT workers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, the Trump administration's Justice Department and other legal authorities disagree, and the Supreme Court is hearing several cases on the matter. However, traditional sex discrimination cases continue to reflect major problems experienced by women workers across the country.
Ideally, employees in California and throughout the country would not hesitate to report instances of harassment and discrimination to their employers. However, this is typically not the case at Google as workers there say that they were retaliated against after filing complaints with HR. Employees said that they were taken off of projects or reassigned elsewhere in the company. A memo said that the company generally chose to hide sexual harassment complaints when they involved members of the management team.
A university study indicates that California workplaces may not have been positively impacted by the MeToo movement. The study included surveys of both men and women at the peak of the MeToo movement in 2018 and then similar surveys in 2019 once the movement had cooled. In the 2019 survey, 27% of men said they were more likely to avoid having one on one meetings with female coworkers, and 21% said they were more reluctant to bring on new female employees for positions where close interaction was required.
Readers who follow California's entertainment industry could be interested to learn that a crew member on the CBS drama series "Criminal Minds" has filed a lawsuit against CBS Corp., ABC Studios, Warner Bros. and others over sexual harassment and battery claims. The suit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Female workers in California and elsewhere are reporting fewer instances of unwanted sexual attention or sexual coercion. This is according to a study conducted by the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado. The study involved 500 women who were polled about their experiences with sexual harassment and coercion in September 2016 and in September 2018. The results suggest that sexual harassment is happening less frequently in the workplace.
Many employees in California and across the country continue to face serious problems with sexual harassment on the job. Unwanted sexual advances and other types of inappropriate behavior continue to rise, despite the emergence of the #MeToo movement and widespread media attention on the problem. Indeed, since allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against high-profile Hollywood executives hit major news, the number of federal complaints about sexual harassment on the job has escalated significantly.
California residents may have followed the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in late 2017 and the #MeToo movement they gave rise to. In January 2018, a group of entertainment industry figures including prominent writers and actors founded a group called Time's Up to address gender-based workplace discrimination. The organization also funds litigation filed against employers by workers who have been discriminated against or harassed due to their gender.
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.