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"Pssst Employees...Here's How to Sue Us"

Newsletter • volume 1 • number 8

As of January 1993, a law in California requires every employer to teach their employees about sexual harassment. Every employee must not only be made aware of sexual harassment's illegality, but also how to file a sexual harassment complaint against their employer. Specific directions on how to contact the Department of Fair Employment and Housing must be placed in the hands of every employee.

Mike Lotito, of the San Francisco office of Jackson, Lewis, Schnitzler & Krupman, points out that this law may not achieve its intended goal to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. He feels the impact may actually be an increase in the number of sexual harassment charges and lawsuits, rather than an increase in awareness. This issue is growing in dollar importance as is evidenced by a recent San Jose court decision to award a $500,000 sexual harassment settlement to an 18-year-old clothing store cashier.

Lotito suggests that companies take a proactive approach by seeking legal advice on compliance with the new law and initiating training programs on sexual harassment.

In our Diversity at Work seminar, we offer our clients a module on sexual harassment. This module addresses the increasing concerns we see and hear regarding gender issues in the workplace.

Participants in our seminars reveal an enormously wide range of awareness regarding gender issues and sexual harassment, from denying that such issues exist to taking action against them. Surprisingly, neither one's gender nor position in the organization appears to influence understanding of gender and sexual harassment issues.

Sexual harassment is an insidious problem in the workplace and employers pay the price in more than just the courtroom. Every day productivity declines due to increased absenteeism and turnover rates resulting from sexual harassment on the job. This reality directly impacts the bottom line.