Sexual harassment is more than a social problem between people when it enters the workplace. Inappropriate comments and behavior can begin a painful cycle that can destroy careers and corrode workplace morale far beyond the initial incident.
California has been at the forefront of replacing a sexual harassment culture with a more inclusive and sensitive way of valuing employees and colleagues. Several laws define and prohibit specific types of gender-based discrimination after investigations and allegations in several industries, venture capitalist circles and even the seat of government in Sacramento.
Two female former engineers with a prominent tech company based in Silicon Valley have recently filed complaints with California regulators stating they believe they were paid unfairly due to gender. The complaints also allege that men engaged in inappropriate behavior, such as ranking the two women based on physical appearance.
The case is also making history as it relies on an obscure state law that appears to bar employers from requiring mandatory arbitration in the case of a workplace dispute. Arbitration is typically conducted in secret, as opposed to a lawsuit, so requiring arbitration may be seen as limiting employees’ free access to the court system.
Employees and managers who believe they have been the target of sexual harassment have the right to have their voices heard in court, or seek other settlement to resolve a claim of workplace discrimination. An attorney with experience in employment law and related issues may help find the right path forward, whether through mediation, court actions or other litigation.
Source: Business Insider, “2 female former Uber engineers have filed a complaint about their pay and allege they were ‘ranked’ on their looks,” Julie Bort, Oct. 24, 2017