Today’s case resulted in a six-figure settlement for a female police officer recruit. In fact, she was the only female in a group of Volunteer Reserve Offices. Shelly (the plaintiff/victim) was made to continue in various unpaid levels of training, while all male officers moved on to paid positions. Adding insult to injury, she was forced to work more than 40 hours without ANY pay, let alone overtime as would be required by California Labor Code. Just a little more frosting: she was routinely insulted, degraded and suffered numerous indignities.
Shelly would be berated when she spoke up at briefings, and (here’s the most incredible one of all!), was ordered to be the target for canine practice without training or safety equipment. I guess because she agreed to that, she was called an idiot and stupid by a field training officer. This officer had “hit” on her with sexual come-ons prior to this. She rejected those advances. Finally, she would be ordered to undergo additional training with no justification.
And, just when you think this story can’t get any worse, she was called in and told to sign her resignation letter. She rightfully refused and went to the union (she had been forced to join and pay dues while working/training for free, thus earning her the distinction of probably being the first employee in Californina to earn a negative hourly wage. And this from a public police agency! At the end of the day, male police officers were entitled to some back pay as reserve officers, but Shelly was also denied equal treatment. The matter has settled for $400,000. Greenwalt vs. Twin Rivers, Sacramento Superior Court No. 34-2012-00132239. Complaints of this nature are routinely first presented to the appropriate state or federal agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the State of California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. There is generally a 300 day or one year time period in which to file your claim. In order to assert these statutory causes of action, the time frame is “jurisdictional” and must be observed (there are a few exceptions for something called “equitable tolling” but never count on those). Our firm will routinely file these administrative exhaustion claims as a courtesy even if you are not yet a client. But we can’t save a statute date if you call us too late!
As California’s leading plaintiff-employee only law firm, we at Danz have handled numerous cases alleging sexual harassment, retaliation for complaining and whistle blower cases like this. In many cases, the disparity in power between the female victim and the male harasser keeps our clients from complaining at the outset. We’ve stressed how important it is to promptly report harassment to the appropriate Human Resources or governmental agencies charged with preventing it, such as the State of California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Please give me a call any time to discuss your case! We love to chat and learn from each of you about the “real world” of sex in the workplace. Steve Danz 877 789-9707. Who knows, soon your story could help other female (or male!) victims of sex harassment.