Are There Limits To Laws Regarding Sexual Harassment?

Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Attorneys Discuss a Sample Case

Hostile work environment sexual harassment is repeated, unwanted sexual conduct that creates a threatening, unfriendly, or offensive environment.

There is absolutely no excuse for such behavior, and the Civil Rights Act forbids sexual harassment at the federal level. Additionally, most states prohibit sexual harassment with their own laws, many of which are actually stricter than federal laws.

Most frequently, sexual harassment occurs in the private workplace.

Far too often, people in positions of authority seem to forget the law—or think it doesn’t apply to them—and treat their colleagues with an utter lack of dignity and respect. These are exactly the people for whom sexual harassment laws have been put in place.

Many of us, when we imagine such an ugly scene, invariably default to the image of a sleazy man making unwelcome passes at a younger female subordinate. That is, of course, an unfortunate situation which happens all too often—but it is not the only kind of scenario that can happen.

Sexual harassment knows no gender boundaries. There have been many reported cases of female supervisors improperly propositioning male employees, and of course harassers of the same gender as their target.

A recent case illustrates what can happen when a boss gets caught up in their own power.

Female Executive Sued for Sexual Harassment

A sexual harassment lawsuit has been filed against Maria Zhang, senior director of engineering at Yahoo Mobile. She is accused of sexual harassment by Nan Shi, a woman who worked under her as a software engineer.

Shi’s complaint alleges that Zhang abused her power by coercing Shi into sexual situations on multiple occasions, telling her that she would “have a bright future” with Yahoo if Shi had sex with her.

The suit, which also lists Yahoo as a defendant, states that “the company’s human resources personnel refused to conduct an investigation” when Shi filed a complaint regarding the sexual advances by her boss. Shi was instead given a leave of absence—unpaid—and eventually fired.

Yahoo, of course, vehemently denies any wrongdoing by their executive or their human resources department. It is important that the corporate giant faces these charges, though. A company can and should be held accountable for sexual harassment by its employees. Employers have a duty to monitor the behavior of everyone on their staff and to thoroughly investigate and respond to allegations of harassment.

This is not an isolated situation—similar cases have recently come to light at other companies. If Shi’s allegations are true, it will be yet another instance of a huge corporation ignoring sexual harassment complaints, and a woman losing her job due to the unforgivable actions of another.

I am Having a Problem with Sexual Harassment at Work. What Can I Do?

Legally, you cannot be retaliated against for reporting workplace violations, and in cases of sexual harassment, it does not matter what your gender is, nor the gender of the person intimidating you. If you or someone you love has been the victim of sexual harassment, it is urgent that you report the incidents to your supervisors or HR department. If reporting the incident to your own company does not fix the problem, contact a Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer today for a consultation. Only by continuing to expose this kind of reprehensible behavior can we hope to stop it from happening to future generations.