Bill takes aim at forced arbitration of sexual harassment complaints

December 08, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Arbitration, long a favored method of handling workplace disputes, would be removed as an option in sexual harassment and gender discrimination cases if a new bill introduced in Congress becomes law.

Often, employment contracts contain arbitration clauses that require disputes to be settled through arbitration instead of litigation. Also, complaint settlements frequently include nondisclosure agreements that keep claims out of the public eye. The new bill, called the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act, is intended to keep harassers from settling claims in secret and then continuing to harass.

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New California law mandates sexual harassment training for local officials

December 06, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Beth Kahn and Sigalit Shoghi
Morris Polich & Purdy LLP

Changes to California’s law requiring sexual harassment training for supervisory employees will go into effect on January 1, 2017, clearing up ambiguity about whether elected city officials are required to take sexual harassment prevention training and education courses already mandated for private-sector supervisors.

Assembly Bill 1661 requires that “local agency officials” (defined as any member of a local agency legislative body and any elected local agency official) receive sexual harassment prevention training and education if the local agency pays them any type of compensation, salary, or stipend.

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Employers need to be ready for new California law on same-sex harassment

December 12, 2013 0 COMMENTS

by Tara K. Clancy and Kristine W. Hanson

A new California law means employees who file same-sex harassment cases should have an easier time getting relief from the courts. Senate Bill (SB) 292, which was signed into law in August and takes effect in January, means employees don’t have to have evidence that sexual desire is behind sexual harassment. Instead, liability may arise from comments or actions based on gender alone.

Before the new law, sexual harassment required a showing that the conduct was motivated by sexual desire. SB 292 expressly provides that conduct may be considered sexual harassment even if it isn’t motivated by sexual desire. As a result, the new law expands the realm of actions for which an employer may be liable based on the acts of its employees.

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Novartis Enters Settlement Agreement for Remaining Members of Gender Bias Suit

July 15, 2010 1 COMMENTS

Following a massive $250 million punitive damages verdict from a Manhattan jury, Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has agreed to settle the remaining claims in a recent gender bias suit. Pending final approval by the district judge, the settlement would be more than $152 million and would cover the remainder of the 5,600 claims filed in the class-action suit.

The case involved claims from female sales representatives that Novartis paid female employees less than male employees while denying them promotional opportunities similar to those of their male counterparts. The jury found that Novartis had discriminated in pay, promotional opportunities, and pregnancy-related matters, awarding $3.3 million in compensatory damages as well as the massive punitive damages sum — the highest award to date in a gender bias suit — to the 12 employees named in the case. Absent a settlement, damages for the remaining members of the class action could have totaled more than $1 billion.

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Price is Right Model ‘Comes on Down’ with Lawsuit

March 03, 2010 0 COMMENTS

It’s not all fun and games on the set of game show The Price is Right. A former model on the show, Brandi Cochran, filed a suit in Superior Court in Los Angeles on March 1 claiming she was harassed and discriminated against for being pregnant, according to a report in The Wrap, an entertainment news website.

Cochran was a model on the show from July 2002 through late February 2010 when she was fired. She is suing CBS and the show’s producer Freemantle Media claiming discrimination based on pregnancy, retaliation for complaining about discrimination and harassment, wrongful termination, breach of contract, privacy violations, and fraud.

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EEOC Files Sexual Harassment Case Against Oregon Agriculture Employers

June 23, 2009 1 COMMENTS

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed its third sexual harassment case in less than a year against Oregon agricultural employers. The most recent suit charges that sexual harassment and retaliation occurred at Willamette Tree Wholesale, a retail nursery with 140 acres of farmland and a garden supply store in Molalla, Oregon, where Latina workers were allegedly sexually harassed and threatened, and at least one woman was repeatedly raped.

Regarding the case, EEOC Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, “From California, where the fields were called ‘field de calzon’ (or ‘field of panties’) because so many supervisors raped women there, to Florida, where female farm workers call them ‘The Green Motel,’ and throughout the country, we have found women working in agriculture are often particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment. We hope this third Oregon lawsuit will send notice to employers in this industry to stop predatory sexual behavior and abuses of supervisor power.”

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