Earlier this month, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) announced a $70,000 settlement of a workplace sexual orientation harassment case against Limited Brands Store Operations, Inc., and Bath & Body Works, LLC. In that case, a manager of a Bath & Body Works was accused of harassing her co- manager because of his sexual orientation. The DFEH filed an accusation with the Fair Employment and Housing Commission after investigating the co-manager's complaint, who began working at Bath & Body Works in August 2007. In short, the complainant claimed that from his first day on the job, his female supervisor referred to him multiple times a day using slurs based on his sexual orientation, drew pictures of male genitals, which she hung in the store’s back room, told his co-workers that he liked kissing boys, and falsely claimed that his attitude was affecting the work environment. The Department’s accusation further alleged that, even though another store manager witnessed the harassment and the employee complained to the district manager, Bath & Body Works failed to stop the harassment, ultimately forcing the victim to quit his job.
As part of the $70,000 settlement, Bath & Body Works, LLC agreed to provide discrimination and harassment prevention training to its supervisors and managers, provide training to all new hires within 60 business days of hire, display posters informing employees of their right to report discrimination to the DFEH, and retain copies of all complaints of discrimination and harassment made by employees alleging a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. As is typical in such cases, Bath & Body Works did not admit to any liability in the agreement to settle.
See the DFEH press release HERE.
California law has long prohibited sexual harassment in the workplace, including that based on sexual orientation. When co-workers or supervisors create a hostile work environment by way of repeated and offensive conduct, the victim has the right to pursue his or her legal remedies with the DFEH, EEOC or in a civil lawsuit. With regard to a lawsuit, California law first requires the injured employee to exhaust their administrative remedy. In this context, that simply means the employee files a complaint (which can be done online) with the DFEH and simultaneously requests a "Right to Sue Notice". Once the Notice is issued, which usually happens almost immediately, the wronged employee may pursue their civil remedies in court. Civil remedies may include lost wages, loss of future earnings, emotional distress damages, attorney's fees and punitive damages. Unlike a DFEH action, a victim pursuing their remedies in civil court is not limited in the amount of damages they can recover. There are certain time limitations in terms of filing a Complaint with the DFEH, and it therefore important that victims understand their legal rights and available remedies as soon as possible.
Compensation for victims of sexual harassment and discrimination should be an important concern for all Californians. When a co-worker or supervisor victimizes someone in the workplace, because of that person's sex or sexual orientation, the the harassing employee and employer should be held liable. An Orange County sexual harassment lawyer with experience at handling such cases can make a fair assessment of these claims. Mr. Ralph has more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury and sexual harassment cases, including just this type. He can be reached at 714-919-4415 for a FREE CONSULTATION.
Have you or a loved one been a victim of sexual harassment or discrimination?
Nothing in this post is intended to suggest the Law Offices of Paul W. Ralph currently represents anyone involved in the news story above. This posting should not be construed as legal advice or an opinion on the merit of any particular matter. A consultation is the best way to obtain an assessment of your potential case.