It seems that sexual harassment on the job is becoming an all-too-familiar story as more people reveal abuses from supervisors and others with power. Hearing these claims made public has given many the courage to stand up for fair treatment at work. California workers who speak up certainly hope for universal changes in the hostile environments that exist for vulnerable workers.
It seems like every week a story breaks of a famous or powerful person facing accusations of sexual harassment on the job. Often, the defense a California company uses when such accusations are made public is that there had been no complaints against the accuser up to that point. This may be true, but often the reason is that employees are afraid of facing retaliation if they bring their complaints to the human resources department.
Most people in California would agree that racial relations have improved since the 1960s. Many may even point to the recent election of black president as evidence that the country is on the right track. However, for many people of color, the last quarter century has brought few changes.
It is not uncommon for the owner or manager of a California business to set the tone for the way people are treated within the establishment. An owner who treats his or her employees with respect and dignity may find that those workers share that respect and perpetuate the behavior. On the other hand, when employers abuse or objectify their staff members, they may inadvertently permit others to do the same, creating a hostile atmosphere. The owner of a posh restaurant in another state is currently under fire for establishing an atmosphere that encouraged sexual harassment.
Workplace harassment is a common problem for both men and women in California and across the United States. Many people do not know the signs of a hostile workplace and what qualifies as harassment.
Federal laws require employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers with special circumstances, such as health issues or religious beliefs. When California employers refuse to make those accommodations, the worker may have a case for discrimination. Recently, a woman in another state contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when her new employer refused to make adjustments to the company's dress code to accommodate the woman's religious beliefs.