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Fighting sexual harassment in California's state capitol

Sexual harassment has returned to the forefront of public conversation with the unfolding scandal around decades of systematic harassment of women in Hollywood. This matter has grown larger than the entertainment industry, as the increased focus is putting the spotlight on businesses unfriendly to women and other protected groups.

Leaders of venture capital firms, tech startups and banks across California have recently had to reflect on their policies protecting a safe and productive workplaces by preventing sexual harassment. A new front is opening in the seat of the state's government itself.

A new female legislator in Sacramento reported being groped by a colleague shortly after being sworn in. A female government affairs director claimed to be the victim of inappropriate advances from an associate while other male workers looked on with no reaction.

More than 140 women, from legislators to staffers, signed a recent open letter condemning a "pervasive" culture of sexual harassment and objectification around the capital of the Golden State. Nonconsensual touching, inappropriate comments and sexual innuendo were some of the listed behaviors that are unacceptable in any workplace.

"Why didn't we speak up? Sometimes out of fear. Sometimes out of shame," the letter reads. "Often these men hold our professional fates in their hands. They are bosses, gatekeepers, and contacts. Our relationships with them are crucial to our personal success."

When an employer or government cannot or will not address sexual harassment, legal action may be the only option for those determined to defend their rights in the workplace. An experienced labor attorney can help victims of sexual harassment regain control and fight degrading behavior.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Female lawmakers, staffers and lobbyists speak out on 'pervasive' harassment in California's Capitol," Melanie Mason, Oct. 17, 2017

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