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Sexual Harassment Happens Even Where Employees Should Know Better

As readers of this blog are aware, sexual harassment can happen in all types of workplaces. But one would expect that employees of a law firm that specializes in employment law would know better. It seems, however, that no place is safe.

A woman who is identified as Jane Roe (to protect her identity) is suing the law firm Adelson Testan Novell & Jimenez PC in California for sexual harassment. In her complaint, she alleges that her supervisor grabbed her breasts and waist, and during a meeting in his office, rubbed her vagina with his thumb and asked if it aroused her. He continued though she asked him to stop. This supervisor was a former California Deputy Attorney General, who now works for a different firm.

There were other perpetrators in the firm. Three female employees told her she was too skinny and that her body was disgusting, according to the suit. The criticized her for eating cake at an office party, insinuating that she was bulimic and would have to purge the cake later. When she subsequently stopped eating cake at parties, she was harassed for abstaining.

A mail clerk made "obscene catcall noises" at her when she walked by his desk, and another female employee teased her by calling her a slang term for a prostitute. A male attorney asked Roe out on a date, and advances so aggressive that she started avoiding community spaces so she wouldn't have to interact with him.

When Roe received help from the IT department, co-workers made told her she only got help because she flirted with the IT staff, and that therefore she got "special treatment".

Doe is suing for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, sexual assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and failure to prevent discrimination and harassment.

The takeaway: Sexual harassment can happen in any workplace, even in law firms that handle employment law matters.

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