California is home to some of the strictest sexual harassment laws in the United States. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing says that sexual harassment consists of demanding sex for employment benefits, uninvited sexual advances, and physical verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment cases blossomed in the 1990s and now employers are obligated to place signs in the workplace. Here are some of the country’s largest sexual harassment cases and settlements.
In 1994, former Arkansas state employee, Paula Jones, sued then-President Bill Clinton alleging sexual harassment. Jones claimed that in 1991, Clinton exposed himself and asked for oral sex in a hotel room. Although Clinton denied the allegations, he settled the suit by paying Jones $850,000. The case’s international publicity brought greater attention to the issue of sexual harassment.
The Mitsubishi automobile plant in Normal, Illinois in the 1990s was not a safe place for women. In 1998, a number of female workers filed a suit against Mitsubishi claiming sexual harassment since at least 1990. The alleged incidents included fondling, verbal abuse, sexually charged jokes and demanding sex in return for promotions. One female worker reported that an air rifle was fired between her legs. The company agreed to pay $34 million to the women to settle their collective suit. Millions more were paid in individual actions.
Ralphs grocery store in Escondido, California was a place of torment for six female employees. In 2002, a jury verdict awarded $30 million to the six women who claimed that the store manager fondled them and terrorized them by throwing things at them, including a 12-pack of soda. In 2006, the award was reduced by a state court of appeals.
Ashley Alford worked for Aaron’s for only two years, but that was enough. She suffered repeated sexual harassment incidents that peaked with two disgusting assaults. First, Alford’s manager, Richard Moore, allegedly held her by her ponytail and hit her in the head with his penis. A second incident involved Moore allegedly subduing Alford by holding her down on a sofa and masturbating on her. Criminal charges were filed for the assaults. Alford complained to Aaron’s management, but nothing was done. In 2011, a jury awarded Alford $95 million. The federal limit on sexual harassment judgments reduced her damages to $40 million.
If you feel victimized by your boss or coworkers, consult with our experienced San Diego sexual harassment attorney, who can evaluate whether your case meets the legal guidelines for filing a sexual harassment suit.