California sexual harassment can happen to anyone

California residents may be familiar with the very popular Waffle House restaurant chain. The chairman of the successful chain is under investigation by authorities because of sexual harassment allegations. The woman at the heart of the scandal is the man's former housekeeper. The chairman denies any wrongdoing and claims he is the victim of blackmail.

The woman filed a report with the police claiming the chairman had told her she had to perform sex acts if she wanted to keep her job. The chairman stated that over a period of almost eight years, he and the woman were consensual sexual partners, although the incidents were infrequent. The woman has not been named because of the nature of the allegations.

The man claims his actions were stupid and have embarrassed his family, but that he is not guilty of sexual harassment. A spokesman for the Waffle House stated that the woman was not employed by the restaurant. No charges have been filed in the matter, but it is still under investigation.

No matter one's job, California employees have the right to work in an environment free of sexual harassment. When this doesn't happen, employees have legal rights available to them. Although the matter is one that could eventually go to the criminal courts, the woman retains the right to pursue a civil case against him. When employers fail to follow the law and demand sexual favors as a condition of employment, criminal and civil proceedings could result. Knowing one's legal rights in such a situation may be a significant step toward ending workplace discrimination.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Food FYI: Waffle House sex scandal," Betty Hallock, Nov. 14, 2012

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