“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Terminations This Holiday Season”

holiday partyGiven the recent tidal wave of allegations of sexual harassment in politics, the entertainment industry, and social media, employers may want consider the following guidelines in preparation for their company holiday events where alcohol and off-site events may create a combustible mix of unwanted behavior by one employee to another.

Holiday parties may be an excellent opportunity for employees to socialize outside of the confines of the office, and to reward employees for their service, but they can also give rise to employer liability in the absence of appropriate precautions. Before planning your next holiday soiree, review the potential pitfalls and solutions below so that your event can be full of cheer, rather than unpleasant lawsuits.

  1. Serving Alcohol at Company Functions

wine glassesWhile having alcohol available may make typical water cooler conversations less awkward, and can be a way for people to let off steam and celebrate, it can lead to liability for employers in the form of vicarious liability, sexual harassment, social host liability, and other potential issues. Continue reading

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What Can Employers Learn From the Harvey Weinstein Scandal? Tips from an Employment Lawyer on Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.*

Harvey WeinsteinAs Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual harassment in the work place dominates the headlines on the heels of other scandals involving Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby, President Trump, Billy Bush, and former President Bill Clinton, it is time to explore ways that we all can take tangible action to help make sexual harassment and violence extinct, whether it is through awareness, outreach, personal restraint/responsibility, and/or formal training.  While claims against powerful individuals continue to surface in the media and on social media, and companies adjust their response polices, one thing is clear: sexual claims are very real, very expensive, and very destructive.

In fact, one in three women have experienced sexual harassment in the work place, and employers have doled out over $40.7 million in settlements (not including cases that went to trial) were reported by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2016.  In addition, California Government Code Section 12940(k) requires that all employers “take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring.” Continue reading

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Very Real and Very Costly for Employers

150212-sexualharassment-stockWhile sexual harassment has been in everyone’s vocabulary since Dolly Parton’s Nine to Five graced screens in 1980, it has become a topic of increased importance and media coverage as more and more sexual harassment claims are brought against celebrities such as Bill Cosby, President-Elect Donald Trump, and former President Bill Clinton.  While you or your employees may not identify with these over-the-top personalities in positions of power, sexual harassment claims are very real and very expensive.

For example, a recent claim against the popular P.F. Chang’s China Bistro chain cost the company $1 million in response to two employees’ claims that they were repeatedly sexually harassed and were subjected to a hostile work environment. According to the arbitrator’s written order, both women said they were subjected to offensive comments and conduct from the male kitchen staff at the restaurants, including jokes about sex, remarks about female workers’ bodies, and kissing and whistling noises aimed at female employees as they walked by. In addition, one of the women said she saw a group of male kitchen employees watching a pornographic video on a smartphone, and she frequently heard the cooks singing sexually explicit songs in the rear of the restaurant in University City.  The reality is that these activities occur more often than you might think.

To continue reading about the risks of sexual harassment in the workplace and how to protect yourself as an employer, continue reading our article in the December issue of the California Employer’s Report. Continue reading

“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Lawsuits This Holiday Season”

Although holiday parties may be an excellent opportunity for employees to socialize outside of the confines of the office, and to reward employees for their service, they can also give rise to employer liability in the absence of appropriate precautions. Before planning your next holiday soiree, review the potential pitfalls and solutions below so that your event can be full of cheer, rather than unpleasant lawsuits.

  1. Serving Alcohol at Company Functions

holiday-bar1

While having alcohol available may make typical water cooler conversations less awkward, it can lead to liability for employers in the form of vicarious liability, sexual harassment, social host liability, and other potential issues.

Even though refraining from serving alcohol altogether is the safest option, in the event that your company plans to serve alcohol at you next function, keep the following tips in mind: Continue reading