Six Women Accuse Orange County, California Democratic Party of Sexual Harassment

Six Women Accuse Orange County, California Democractic Party of Sexual Harassment

As part of the nationwide social media #MeToo campaign, wherein women across the country are standing together by admitting they were victims of sexual harassment at some point in the past, several women have accused the Orange County Democratic party and the County Labor Union of sexual abuse and harassment. The incidents allegedly occurred in 2015 and complain of incidents by two men (including a democratic congressional candidate).

In one account of a 2015 incident, a woman claims that one of the men touched her thigh, causing her to flee in fear. Similarly, other accounts state that men allegedly pushed up against other women and attempted to remove their underwear. All of the women claim they did not report the incidents at the time because they felt powerless to do so.

In response to the allegations, the party claims it will offer training for its members and organizations, and will also implement a code of conduct to prevent further incidents from occurring within the party and among its candidates and volunteers.  Given the high-profile accusations against large-scale democratic donor Harvey Weinstein, it appears these latest allegations may be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to scandal within political party regional offices.


Check out Syntrio's Anti-Harassment Training


People often think of sexual harassment prevention training as isolated to traditional workplaces. But as the incidents above illustrate, volunteer situations like campaign offices, charity work, and other non-traditional work environments are also ripe for harassment due to the wide variety of power imbalances and transient nature of the work. People often think they can behave inappropriately because they will not see their victims after a finite period of time, and this sort of mentality is simply wrong and illegal.

Victims should be encouraged to report incidents of abuse and harassment immediately. Once these incidents are reported, victims should also be encouraged to involve the authorities where (as here) the conduct is criminal in nature. Simply sweeping incidents under the rug are what perpetuates a culture of fear and self-blame, and all too often incidents go unreported. There have been over 12 million status changes to #MeToo since actress Alyssa Milano started the campaign, and women are now feeling empowered to report illegal misconduct in the workplace and in the public at large.

It is up to employers and organizations to instill cultural safeguards prohibiting harassment and encouraging the reporting of any such misconduct. Now that we are seeing the sheer number of incidents that go unreported, we must ensure that women (and men) feel empowered to come forward when bosses, co-workers, and other people at their place of work or volunteer sites act in such a despicable manner.


Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio

 

Tesla Sued for Sexual Orientation Harassment

Tesla Sued for Sexual Orientation Harassment

Auto-maker Tesla has been sued for sexual orientation harassment in Northern California by a former contractor at one of its facilities.  According to the lawsuit, the contractor claims he was fired from his position at Tesla after he complained to managers that he was being harassed due to his sexual orientation. The former contractor, who is gay, alleged that he was taunted by the man who trained him and subjected to abusive comments and behavior due to his sexual orientation. One such incident, described in the lawsuit, states that the contractor was told to “watch his back” by the man that trained him, and threats were made to the contractor’s personal property and well-being.

Tesla responded to the lawsuit, claiming there has never been a single case of discrimination proven against the company. The company also states that the individual who filed the lawsuit did not work for Tesla (rather for a staffing agency), and neither did the man accused of harassment. The company stressed that it was named in order to garner publicity for the lawsuit and that it did not engage in any illegal conduct.

It is important to note that this is not the first discrimination or harassment filed against Tesla, and not even the first this month.  Earlier in October, an African-American man sued Tesla for discrimination and harassment in one of its plants, alleging that he was harassed and retaliated against due to his race. 


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Statements such as Tesla’s strong denial and vow to vigorously defend itself against false lawsuits, (combined with the indication that neither of the individuals involved in the alleged sexual orientation harassment worked for the company), are a standard denial, yet paint the company’s sensitivity to discrimination and harassment in a very negative light. Focusing on the fact that no discrimination or harassment lawsuit has ever been successful against the company merely draws conclusions that the company would rather settle such lawsuits and maintain its public image than truly ensure that all individuals are provided with a working environment free from any tolerance to discrimination and harassment.  Indeed, the company’s statements read more of annoyance than of disgust for any such potential behavior on its campuses.

As you can see, the need for training in harassment and discrimination runs deeper than just the legal issues involved with such behavior. How companies respond, and the cultures they attempt to create have a significant impact on the stigma (or lack thereof) resulting from allegations of harassment or discrimination. Syntrio’s training programs focus on empathy and cultural change, and seek to prevent PR disasters like the storm circling around Tesla today.


Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio

 

California Expands Harassment Training Requirements

California Expands Harassment Training Requirements

On October 15, 2017, California governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 396 into law. SB 396 expands the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) mandate that employers with 50 or more employee provide bi-annual training on the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace.  As of January 1, 2018, employers subject to FEHA’s mandatory sexual harassment training requirements must ensure that the training programs they provide educate employees on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

It is extremely important to note that gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation have been protected employment classes in the State of California for a number of years. With this in mind, harassment on the basis of any of these categories has been (and will continue to be) illegal under State law. Given the illegality of such behavior, many companies (including Syntrio) long ago took a proactive approach to training on these categories, as they fall within the penumbra of “harassment based on sex” that has always been important to educate employers about.

Gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation have become extremely hot topics in employment law in recent years, as all too many employers have ignored harassment on the basis of such characteristics in lieu of a reduction in traditional male to female sex harassment. This is a huge mistake given the number of incidents of harassment “based on sex” that occur in California workplaces in today’s day and age, and a mistake that SB396 attempts to formally correct.

Going forward we can expect to see even greater expansion into the two-hour training requirement set forth in California’s FEHA, which is a positive in terms of reduction in harassment lawsuits, yet a requirement that places a substantial time burden on businesses of all sizes.  For this reason, Syntrio synthesizes its discussion of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation, pointing out that such behavior is illegal (and using practical examples), into a wider discussion on the topic of “harassment based on sex” as a whole.  We firmly believe that a streamlined discussion of these topics (while focusing on the core issues of their damaging nature) is the best way for managers to gain context of their importance while not taking up more time than is required by the state statute.

Syntrio’s methods of workplace harassment prevention training are how it became the leading provider of this type of training in the State of California. When other companies are touting their newly expanded courseware you can be confident that Syntrio was well ahead of the SB396 curve in including this material in its two-hour courseware before it was required by the State.


Contact us today for a demonstration of our industry-leading AB1825 courseware!


Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio

 

Trouble Brewing for Corporate Compliance

Trouble Brewing for Corporate Compliance

The United States Supreme Court has many important issues to decide in its upcoming term. Perhaps no case is more important to corporate compliance than Digital Reality Trust v. Somers, the landmark whistleblower case that will decide whether employees must actually report alleged violations to a government agency vs. just to their corporate compliance department in order to receive protection under the Dodd-Frank Act.

Should the Supreme Court decide that employees must report violations directly to a government agency then the burgeoning profession of “corporate compliance” could be virtually crippled. Indeed, in that scenario, federal and state governments would become the de facto “compliance” departments for companies both private and public.

The result of such a decision by the Supreme Court would have a seemingly catastrophic effect on companies and their employees, in that a great many more employees would be punished and/or retaliated against for trying to do the right thing. It would also leave in question anti-retaliation provisions in those states that do not have separate statutes for reporting of violations that turn out to be incorrect.


Learn more about Syntrio's online compliance courseware.


It is well-proven that employees who fear retaliation do not blow the whistle. In the event they can suddenly be punished for doing so the only ethical thing to do is for companies to institute stringent anti-retaliation policies and train their managers and employees on not just the policies themselves, but also what to do in the event a violation is suspected and set precedent for how companies will independently handle reported violations in a positive manner.

While the odds of the Supreme Court deciding that whistleblowers must report violations to a government agency seem low, the federal government has always seemingly been at odds with the corporate compliance profession, and would like nothing more than to claw back some of the current philosophies and duties into its own pre-determined methods of compliance that were developed in the legal realm.

It is always a good idea to implement careful training programs for managers who craft policies that are impacted by changes in federal law and important Supreme Court decisions. As part of its suite of corporate compliance courseware, Syntrio provides online courses covering whistleblowing, anti-retaliation, and a variety of other topics critical to managing your business within the complicated laws governing the United States and its territories. We invite you to contact us at your convenience to learn more!


Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio

 

Check out Richard Bistrong’s Interview with Nicole Rose

Moving Back In-House to Move Compliance to the Next Generation

Read Richard Bistrong's informative interview of Nicole Rose:  "Moving Back In-House to Move Compliance to the Next Generation"

Nicole shares her insights on a "network" approach to compliance in organizations.  As always, the article is laden with great recommendations for organizations to use in their compliance programs.


Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!