Q: How does the recent #MeToo movement affect employers, employees, and victims in the workplace?
A: Due to the recent #MeToo movement, there has been heightened social attention towards sexual harassment issues in the workplace. The victims of sexual harassment have gained massive support to speak up against the harassers and the law is now headed into a new direction.
Not only do victims find the courage to speak up of their experience, judges, attorneys and jurors now have a different standard towards company’s action in dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace. Although there has always been a legal duty for companies to intervene, the focus that the #MeToo movement brought heightened such standards.
Now, jurors seem to require the companies to act faster and more effectively in investigating a sexual harassment case. Therefore, it is highly advised for any companies to take immediate action and investigate thoroughly any report of sexual harassment. Most importantly, the companies are required to take appropriate corrective action. Roby v. Mckesson Corp. (2009)
It is almost impossible to define for certain what “sexual harassment” entails. No standard can be set to label an action or word as sexual harassment without learning of the circumstances, tone, and environment. In the past, the court has used the “reasonable man” standard to determine many things. However, now the court will also apply “reasonable woman” standard if the victim is a woman. Ellison v. Brady, 924 Fed.2d 872
This means that the harasser’s common excuse of “I did not mean any harm” is no longer valid. The courts will focus on the victim’s perspective as a “reasonable man” or a “reasonable woman” in evaluating a case.
For anyone who may feel as though they may be a victim of sexual harassment, there are some important things he/she must know. In order to protect yourself, you must keep a detailed record of what occurred. This should include the person, time, location and a description of the incident. This record may help greatly in the potential case for sexual harassment.
It is also very important to act fast and report it according to your company’s protocol. The normal statute of limitation for filing a sexual harassment case in the State of California is one year.
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