Having been working on sexual harassment and discrimination claims for a while now, I am puzzled as to why these kinds of violations still take place, considering the amount of training, warnings and other kinds of “cover up” that most if not all companies are concerned about creating. Thus, I always try to determine based on the facts of the cases I handle, what the source of sexual harassment/discrimination is at a given workplace. My observation reveals the following most common reasons as to why sexual harassment takes place and isn’t prevented at workplace:
1. The harasser genuinely believes that he isn’t doing anything wrong. A co-worker or a supervisor might perceive his jokes or his “affection” touching of a co-worker or his subordinate similar to his flirting at a happy hour, not realizing that the exact some behavior that would compliment a woman anywhere outside of work, would intimidate her and would make her feel threatened at workplace.
2. If the harasser is a very successful businessman (the owner of the company), he might be used to knowing that he can buy anything he needs, and he can buy his way in and out of everything. Thus, he feels entitled to treat his employees as he wishes. He might honestly believe that if he pays someone their salary, they have to do anything he asks.
3. Some employers believe that sexual harassment and hostile work environment lawsuits is something that happens to other companies, not theirs. Thus, they don’t put much effort into training their employees and supervisors on how to address existing and prevent future harassment.
In any event, as hard as it is to see the “good” in suing someone, in any of the above three cases, a lawsuit, besides vindicating the rights of the victim of harassment, serves and important education purpose to employers, reminding them how important it is to comply with California laws on discrimination and harassment.