Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious problem, even today. Many victims have come forward reporting discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation issues in big companies such as Sterling Jewelers and Uber just this month. Hundreds of former employees have reported that the corporate culture at these companies, as presided over by top executives, not only fostered sexual harassment and discrimination, but also a fear of reporting and additional harassment.
Sexual Harassment Reports at Sterling Jewelers (Kay and Jared Jewelry)
Because Sterling, like many other corporate employers, requires any and all employees to waive their right to bring employer-related disputes in public courts, 250 women filed a class action (private arbitration) case alleging that they were regularly groped, demeaned, and urged to provide sexual favors for their bosses in order to keep their jobs throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Originally filed in 2008, the case is still unresolved and building, and now includes close to 70,000 women, all current or former employees of Sterling.
Documents associated with the case were only just released, and the allegations are nothing short of horrifying: They include top male managers scouting stores to target female employees they wanted to have sexual relations with; female subordinates pushed into sex in exchange for promises of better jobs or higher pay; and additional wage violations entirely unlinked to sexual impropriety. It gets even worse: The company’s annual manager meetings were described as “sex-fests,” where attendance was mandatory, spouses were not allowed, and women were regularly groped, grabbed, and harassed. Many women dreaded going to mandatory meetings, describing that they were viewed and treated as “meat, being shopped.” Former employees who reported abuse or sought help were allegedly terminated, retaliated against, and some were also falsely accused of crimes.
Claimants are now seeking punitive damages and years of back pay. If the company loses the case, it is projected to have to pay significant and substantial damages.
Sexual Harassment Reports at Uber
Recent allegations against harassment at Uber indicate that not only are harassment and obstacles to reporting it present in the company’s workplace, but online trolls and victim-blaming behavior from the Human Resources department are rampant. It has become such an issue that former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is now leading an investigation into the claims, many of which involve online harassment.
The Uber case shows us that some people view sexual harassment as something that can only take place in-person, and not online. However, the internet has become inextricably involved in out everyday, offline lives. Companies must have an enforceable code of conduct in place to prevent such behavior.
New York City Attorneys Fighting Workplace Harassment
Blaming the victim is never ok. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual harassment, or any other form of harassment, in the workplace, contact an attorney to fight for you.
With over 20 years of experience and a strong focus on sexual harassment cases, our team of experienced sexual harassment attorneys are here to help you obtain justice. Contact us today at 212-JUSTICE or at [email protected] for a free consultation, and we will get started helping you.