Garden variety sexual harassment exists in all types of workplaces. Employers
will get away with it unless employees take action to stop it. Samara
Schmidt took such action and her employer paid the price.
Schmidt worked for Braun Electric Co. in Bakersfield, California. According
to a lawsuit filed on her behalf by the EEOC, she along with other female
co-workers was continually subjected to a hostile work environment since
2010. She alleged that her supervisor subjected her and other workers
to sexually offensive comments and derogatory names on a daily basis.
These comments included calling Schmidt a "slippery clitted bulldyke,"
commenting that he wanted to see her and a co-worker kiss and touch their
breasts, and asking if she wanted "creamy jizz." Among the comments
made to other women were comments about their breasts, according to the
Schmidt asked the supervisor to stop, but the behavior continued. Braun
Electric took no steps to remedy the situation. Braun's management
failed to address the numerous reports of harassment, and supervisors
filed even to report incidents of harassment that they witnessed. One
female employee was forced to quit as a result of the ongoing hostile
work environment, according to the EEOC.
On October 15, Braun
agreed to pay $82,500 to settle the sexual harassment suit. Pursuant to the three-year
consent decree settling the suit, aside from the monetary relief obtained
for the victims, Braun Electric agreed to retain an experienced, external
equal employment opportunity monitor to review and revise its existing
policies and procedures with respect to discrimination, harassment and
retaliation. The company further agreed to provide annual training for
all staff on employee rights with respect to gender discrimination, harassment
and retaliation and provide additional annual training for supervisory
staff on how to adequately address such complaints.
Melissa Barrios, director for the EEOC's Fresno's Local Office,
added, "As agents of the employer, supervisors and managers should act
as role models and promote an environment free of harassment. Employers
should make sure that supervisory staff is trained not only on the laws
against workplace harassment, but also on how to effectively prevent and
address such issues."
The takeaway: Sexual harassment is illegal, but sometimes it takes a brave
employee willing take the legal actions necessary to make it stop. If
you are subject to sexual harassment in the workplace which creates a
hostile work environment, don't stand for it.