Sexual Harassment Protest: Google Walkout

Thousands of Employees Worldwide Protest Google’s Handling of Sexual Harassment The Google Walkout on November 1, 2018 in protest of sexual harassment was a worldwide event. The largest gathering of protesters, numbering in the thousands, occurred in Silicon Valley, California where Google Headquarters is located. In addition, The New York Times reported that workers protested internationally in Singapore, Hyderabad, Berlin, Zurich, London, Chicago and Seattle, to name a few locations. New York also had a large number of protesters. An estimated 3,000 people gathered to protest in a city park. Since the #Metoo movement began a year ago, sexual harassment has topped the list in anti-discrimination movements. A number of states have passed stricter laws to prohibit sexual harassment, and New York has passed the most stringent sexual harassment training laws in the nation. What Was the Main Protest Focus in the Google Walkout? The New York Times published an article on Oct 25, 2018 about the resignation of the creator of Android software, Andy Rubin in 2014. At that time, he left Google with a $90 million exit package and no public disclosure of sexual misconduct. Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai and Larry Page, co-founder of Google and the chief executive of the parent company, Alphabet issued apologies. According to a Wall Street Journal article on the walkout, Pichai stated that Google no longer makes payouts to employees who are dismissed due to sexual harassment. He also stated, “Moments like this show we didn’t always get it right. We are listening to employees, which is why today is important.” Another point of contention among the protesters was Google’s...

Employers: Do You Have Your Sexual Harassment Training in Place?

What Does the New Sexual Harassment Training Require? By now, hopefully many employers in New York have become aware of the new sexual harassment training laws that went into effect on October 9, 2018.  Under the new law, all New York employers, no matter how many employees you have, are required under State law to establish a sexual harassment training policy. New York State has published a tool kit that explains the guidelines employers must follow. Some employers already had established sexual harassment policies prior to the new law. Others may not have any sexual harassment policy in place. In either case, you must comply with the government’s new requirements. If you’re uncertain about whether your policy is compliant or not, it is wise to consult with an experienced employment defense attorney. The probability is high that most employers are missing parts of the new law in their policies. Sexual Harassment Training Tool Kit Guidelines A checklist for sexual harassment training must meet (or it can exceed) the following minimum training standards. Training must: “Be Interactive (see the model training guidance document for specific recommendations); Include an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights; Include examples of unlawful sexual harassment; Include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to targets of sexual harassment; Include information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints; and Include information addressing conduct by supervisors and additional responsibilities for supervisors.” It is common have questions about the new guidelines...

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Guidance for Employers

Anti-Harassment Policies and Complaint Procedures Your employment attorney can assist you with the wording for an anti-harassment policy, especially if you are currently dealing with harassment issues in your business and are seeking legal counsel. Writing Anti-Harassment Policies What should you include in a sexual harassment policy? According to the EEOC, all kinds of harassment can occur in the workplace and sexual harassment is a specific type of discrimination. You want your policy to be broad enough to cover all types of harassment that violate federal law. Harassment involving any type of discrimination is illegal in the workplace. Therefore your policy should state that the employer does not tolerate any harassment based on the following: Race Sex Religion National Origin Age Disability Genetic information Harassment based on opposition to discrimination or complaint proceedings Retaliation against anyone complaining of harassment or participating in an investigation Harassment Complaint Procedures Establishing a procedure for dealing with harassment complaints is vital to protect employees and also to protect your business. What elements should your complaint procedure incorporate? First of all, as the employer, you should encourage your employees to report harassment. Doing so can help you prevent harassment from becoming severe or widespread. You should appoint more than one official to take complaints and make sure the officials are accessible for employees — readily available and in locations where employees can contact them. You can decide and designate which officials are appropriate to hear complaints and also make sure that the supervisors hearing complaints report them to management. Make sure that supervisors and other management personnel protect the confidentiality of the employee who...

Representative Conyers: Claims Mounting About Sexual Misconduct

Since multiple allegations of sexual misconduct emerged regarding Harvey Weinstein, during the past month, other women have come forward in Hollywood and other industries to make their claims of sexual harassment known. A recent example is Democratic Representative John Conyers, who is resigning amidst accusations of sexual misconduct by multiple women. Confers announced his decision to retire while in a Detroit hospital during an interview on “The Mildred Gaddis Show” on 102.7 FM. and said he plans to back his son to replace him. Sexual Misconduct Allegations According to The Washington Post, former staff member Deanna Maher came forward with claims that on various occasions from 1997 through 2005, Conyers sexually harassed her. She said she never came forward earlier because he was too powerful and she believed no one would want to take her claims seriously. However, there was a previous staff member who also alleged sexual misconduct claims, and in 2015 a settlement was reached between Conyers and the staff member for $27,000. The settlement was over the staff member’s claims for what had occurred when she worked for him in the 1990’s. These claims recently led to a House ethics investigation of Conyers (age 88), the longest serving member of Congress. He denied the claims. However, as a result, House of Representatives leader Nancy Pelosi made a statement saying that the claims were believable and requested that Conyers step down, which he has done. CNN reported that Representative Jim Clyburn also asked Conyers to resign and said it was in his best interests. Clyburn is the assistant Democratic leader and holds the highest-ranking position by an...

Companies Accused of Discrimination or Harassment: What Can You Do?

When accusations of discrimination or harassment emerge, employers should consult with an employment law defense lawyer as soon as possible. Aside from seeking counsel, what actions can you take right away and what mistakes can you avoid? The American Bar Association  suggests avoiding the following mistakes. Failing to investigate immediately. Waiting for an employee to submit a formal statement about harassment or discrimination or waiting for witnesses to submit written statements is the most common mistake made by employers. Any investigation delay can make it appear like you’re ignoring the situation or not taking it seriously. Inserting cross-examination into the process. Conducting an investigation without bias is important for avoiding claims of unfair investigation against your company, even when you suspect a complainant, witness or the accused individual is lying. A better approach is to ask in a respectful manner that the person explain contradictory statements or ask for evidence that refutes the statements. Not maintaining confidentiality. You must keep the investigation confidential along with the information obtained during the investigation. If witnesses suffer backlash from the investigation because their identity is made known or for any other reason, as the employer, you may become subject to claims of retaliation. Not interviewing all witnesses with knowledge of the alleged events. The investigator should interview all the witnesses because it will help determine whether information is consistent. Failing to make known the company’s policy against retaliation. Retaliation is a common problem, according to the EEOC and comprises about one third of the cases the EEOC handles. It is important to reinforce the company policy by reminding all parties that retaliation...

How Prevalent Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

As an employer, being knowledgeable about sexual harassment and the types of challenges you can potentially face is to your advantage. With proper insight, you can take preventative measures against having harassment arise in your work environment. EEOC Study on Sexual Harassment In 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received an estimated 28,000 charges that alleged sexual harassment from employees who worked for private employers or state or local government employers. Of all the harassment charges filed, the greatest percentage (45%) was based on sex. Other discrimination harassment incidents broke down percentage-wise as follows: Racial — 34% Disability — 29% Age — 15% National Origen— 13% Religious — 5% Sexual Harassment Definition and Examples The EEOC did not limit its investigation to workplace discrimination that would be legally actionable because it geared the study to understanding why the behavior was occurring and sought to come up with preventative strategies. The study considered unwelcome or offensive workplace conduct based on sex (sexual orientation, pregnancy and gender identity), race, color, national origin, religion, age, disability and/or genetic information. It also considered behavior that was detrimental to an employee’s work performance, professional advancement and/or mental health. Examples included (but were not limited to): offensive jokes, slurs, name calling, undue attention, physical assaults or threats, unwelcome touching or contact, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, constant or unwelcome questions about an individual’s identity and offensive objects or pictures. Study Findings The EEOC Select Task Force discovered that women who experienced sexual harassment ranged from 25% to 85%. The main difference in responses was because some workers did not label the experience...