Yahoo, based in the San Francisco area, is currently in a heated battle over allegations of sexual harassment. In many sexual harassment cases, the company will quietly settle the charges in order to avoid bad publicity, but in this case both sides are aggressively fighting.
A former female software engineer for Yahoo is alleging that her female boss slipped into her bed and coerced her into having sex, and threatened her job and her future if she refused. This incident occurred in 2013, after Yahoo acquired a Seattle startup company, which was started by the defendant. The company’s five employees moved into temporary housing owned by Yahoo. One of the five employees was the plaintiff, and she moved into an apartment with the defendant, allegedly at the defendant’s request.
The plaintiff alleges that the defendant threatened her job as well as her Yahoo stock if she did not have sex with her. The plaintiff reported the harassment to Yahoo’s human resources department a few months later, and she was fired two months later. The plaintiff sued last month, and the Yahoo employee filed a cross-complaint against her, alleging that the plaintiff was defaming her and intentionally causing her emotional distress.
According to attorneys for the defendants, the plaintiff’s entire story is a lie. They claim that she made the statements for the purpose of extorting money from Yahoo. They also say that she threatened to issue press releases about her allegations unless Yahoo paid her over a million dollars. Instead of giving into her demands, they are aggressively fighting the accusations.
This could be a risky strategy for Yahoo – some may see the company as a bully that is trying to scare the plaintiff into dropping her claims. Yahoo may be trying to fight the negative publicity, or could be sending a warning to anyone else thinking of filing a sexual harassment complaint against the company that Yahoo will not settle any claims without a fight. The company filed a motion to dismiss the case.
Under California law, a company is liable for a manager’s sexual harassment of a subordinate. Federal and state laws prohibit sexual harassment at work. Although normally, jokes and occasional teasing are tolerated, harassment is not. By law, sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, or requests for sexual favors. The harasser could be a supervisor, a co-worker, or even someone who is not an employee of the company, such as a client.
The harassment could be either of a sexual nature, or offensive comments about a person’s sex. For example, it would be illegal for a male co-worker to either say negative things about women on a regular basis in the workplace, or for him to request sexual favors from women co-workers. In addition, the victim and harasser can be either a man or a woman, and they can be of the same sex. The sexual harassment victim can be either the person harassed, or another person if he or she is affected by the offensive conduct. Finally, the harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome – a person cannot claim that he or she was sexually harassed if he or she encouraged the conduct or enjoyed the attention.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that victims of sexual harassment should aggressively fight for their legal rights. If sexual harassment is tolerated, the behavior will most likely continue against other victims. Call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco sexual harassment attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She will help you stand up for your legal rights, and hold the harasser legally responsible. Call to schedule a free consultation.