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Workplace sexual abuse and misconduct

Any workplace can be a breeding ground for systemic sexual abuse and misconduct.  Unfortunately, we only learn about specific examples when high profile organizations are in the cross hairs of an investigation.  A year ago, a female National Women’s Soccer League player reported detailed allegations of sexual coercion and misconduct against her coach, Paul Riley.  At the time, Mr. Riley was a respected coach who’s resume included coaching three NWSL franchises over eight seasons.  He was eventually fired by the team after other players came forward stating Mr. Riley used his influence and power to sexually harass players and in one incident, coerced a player into having sex with him.  A league wide investigation was conducted and revealed systemic verbal and emotional abuse and sexual misconduct.  In other words, women spoke up about their toxic work environment and we can only hope that real change will occur as a result thereof.




The power that managers have over his/her employees is real - they hold an employee’s salary, bonuses, promotions, and future in his/her hands.  Sometimes managers use that power inappropriately including, seeking sexual favors in exchange for job benefits such as promotions, raises, or even just continued employment.   In California, quid pro quo workplace sexual harassment occurs when a supervisor implicitly or explicitly requests a sexual favor in exchange for a job-related benefit; it is one of the two major forms of harassment included in the legal definition of sexual harassment. 


Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the required elements for a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim are:


  1. An employee experienced unwelcome sexual advances, demands or comments;

  2. The sexual advances came from a supervisor; and

  3. If the employee rejected the supervisor’s sexual demands, a negative employment action resulted from that choice. 


If you are experiencing unwelcomed sexual advances, demands or comments from your superior, start by submitting a complaint IN WRITING to a different supervisor or your Company’s human resources department.  If that doesn’t resolve it, call the experienced labor lawyers at Lyon Legal, P.C. for a free consultation. 


Take back the power!  No one should have to put their emotional well being and dignity at risk to climb the corporate ladder. 


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