Sexual Harassment #MeToo

SEXUAL HARASSMENT & #METOO MOVEMENT

The Matern Law Group is on the front lines of the #MeToo movement. 

With lengthy track records of trial wins and millions of dollars’ worth of settlements, our attorneys have represented countless women in sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation cases throughout California.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment can take so many forms, from inappropriate touching and requests for sexual favors, to crude and offensive jokes and comments.  It takes experienced #MeToo lawyers to properly evaluate your claims.

Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment

Hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs in the workplace where an employee is subject to sexual attention or conduct that is so severe or pervasive that it creates an abusive or hostile work environment for an employee. Common types of conduct that will create a hostile work environment include sexual advances, physical conduct (groping, grabbing), verbal conduct (sexual remarks or innuendo, slurs, taunts, ridicule), and harassment (sending sexually explicit emails, posting pornographic images, making offensive gestures).

In California, an employer is strictly liable for the sexual harassment of a manager of supervisor. If the harassment is by a co-worker, the employer is only liable if a supervisor knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.

If you feel you have suffered hostile work environment sexual harassment in the workplace, please Contact Us.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Quid pro quo harassment occurs in the workplace when a manager or supervisor asks an employee for a sexual favor in return for giving the employee an employment related benefit, such as a promotion, a raise, a positive job review or even a continuation of employment itself.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment also occurs when a manager or supervisor asks an employee for a sexual favor in return for promising the employee not to fire or reprimand the employee.

In California, an employer is strictly liable for the sexual harassment of a manager of supervisor. If the harassment is by a co-worker, the employer is only liable if a supervisor knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.

If you feel you have suffered quid pro quo sexual harassment in the workplace, please Contact Us.

Recent Successful Sexual Harassment Cases

Navarro v. 4Earth Farms

Dominga Navarro, a minimum wage factory worker, won $309,000 after a 13-day trial with over 20 witnesses. Ms. Navarro was sexually harassed by her supervisor and subject to a hostile work environment where she was called a “slut” and “whore.”  Just days after complaining about the hostile work environment, 4Earth Farms terminated her.  4Earth Farms’ Human Resources manager wildly testified that she did not think it was sexual harassment when she heard of a report that a supervisor tried to kiss one of his subordinates against her will. 

“If the case went to the jury now, without having heard the defense case – which, obviously we’re going to hear — I would find it very unlikely that they would not find punitive damages.  I’ve got to say this is one of the stronger cases that I’ve seen on that subject, and the conduct is despicable.”  “…[T]he Plaintiff has put forth an extremely strong prima facie case.” “…[T]he evidence is, at this point, mountains against pebbles.”

  • Comments by Judge at the May 18, 2017 hearing on Defendants’ Motion for Nonsuit after Plaintiff rested her case (specifically regarding punitive damages)

“You know, I want to say I think that [Plaintiff’s counsel’s first chair at trial] Ms. [Dalia] Khalili is a phenomenal lawyer and she has a great deal of skill and that she did a great job in preparing this case and that the hours that were employed by the attorneys in getting ready for trial was a significant reason why the case was successful, because Plaintiffs were able to find through investigation and through hard work, which is a difficult thing to do when you have a big caseload – to find witnesses that would corroborate the Plaintiff’s version of the facts.”

  • Comments by Judge at the December 7, 2017 hearing on Plaintiff’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees​

Marcela Fuentes v. AutoZone, Inc., et. al

Cashier Sexually Harassed By Her Supervisors Vindicates Her Rights With Successful Appeal And Unanimous Jury Verdict

Marcela Fuentes, an AutoZone cashier, sued two of her store supervisors for sexual harassment. Both of them spread false rumors that she had herpes. One of them forced her to twirl around and show her buttocks to male customers who whistled, and threatened to get her fired if she complained. The other suggested she should work as a stripper to earn more money, made bets as to whether she was having sex with a coworker, and told the coworker he should wash his private part after having sex with her. When Ms. Fuentes reported the conduct, AutoZone transferred her, not them, to another location. It took the company nearly two months to investigate and terminate the managers.

When Mrs. Fuentes’ attorneys Sandra M. Falchetti and Rania S. Habib brought her case to trial, the jury found unanimously in her favor.

The unhappy defendants tried to appeal the verdict but failed. Writing for a unanimous panel of the Court of Appeal, Justice Epstein concluded that even though the incidents at work occurred within a “compressed period” of three weeks, the supervisors’ conduct “was both pervasive and severe,” and these managers “created a workplace permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule and insult” that the law would not tolerate. (Fuentes v. AutoZone, Inc. (2011) 200 Cal.App.4th 1221, 1234, 1237 A Judgment for Ms. Fuentes for the a sum of $1,220,215.00 was entered that included her damages for emotional distress and her attorney fees and costs.