California has some of the strongest laws in the nation against sexual harassment in the workplace, and yet sexual harassment is on the rise. Why? Despite the profound increase in consciousness through the “Me-Too” Movement, employers continue to allow, permit and ratify the sexual misconduct of their employees who are most often members of management. We have learned to speak out, but because employers are not willing to stop it, we must also take legal action.
The discussion does not end with sexual harassment; according to the Centers for Disease Control’s survey report, 7.5 million Americans were victims of stalking in 2011. This number is an astounding especially considering the conservative definition of “stalking” or “abuse” as a basis for the findings. Employees who were retaliated against and/or terminated because they were stalked or abused had no recourse against their employer until 2013 when the Labor Code was amended to “prohibit an employer from firing or discriminating against an employee based on his or her known status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking,” In addition, employers must now provide employee victims the right to take time off from work to protect themselves and their families.
Stalking and abuse affects all aspects of our emotional, financial and social lives and the lives of our families. As a stalking survivor, I am well aware of the fear, shame and apprehension that victims may feel in reporting stalking or abuse to their employer regardless of what the law provides. A reasonable fear of reprisal is always present and self preservation undermines our ability to rock the boat until we have no choice. Survivors of stalking and abuse can begin to take-back power over their lives by holding employers responsible for deepening their crisis. If you or someone you know has experienced discrimination or retaliation by your employer because you were sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, stalked or are a victim of domestic violence, you may have claims for civil damages.