Sparked by the brave women who have lately come forward to share their stories of sexual harassment in the workplace, many eyes have turned toward men who hold positions of power. Accusations directed at famous and powerful men have filled news stories in recent months. However, it may surprise many to learn that men are not the only ones facing these accusations. In fact, California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia has recently taken a leave of absence following allegations from staff members of sexual misconduct.
Out of fear of retaliation, the employees filed their complaint anonymously, but their spokesman said they stand behind their grievances against Garcia. Those accusations include frequent, lurid conversations about her sexual affairs with other assembly members. Staffers say they felt mandated to join her in drinking games on the job and to accompany her to bars. Garcia is already under investigation stemming from accusations that she groped a male staff member in 2014.
Garcia is a leader in the #metoo movement, which arose to encourage women to speak out against those who harass them on the job. She has defended women's rights and represented plaintiffs who filed harassment complaints against high-profile men. While the new complaints allege no physical contact, they contend that Garcia created a hostile work environment because of her frequent conversations about sex, her abuse of authority and her inappropriate demands.
It remains to be seen how the California legislature will deal with the growing number of accusations against its members. Perhaps this situation underlines the fact that sexual harassment can come from anyone in the workplace. Employees do not have to accept such treatment and have every right to seek redress with the help of an experienced attorney.
Source: CBS News, "California assemblywoman faces misconduct allegations", Feb. 15, 2018