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Janitor files suit against real estate owners


Sexual harassment charges receive notoriety when it involves Hollywood power brokers but its consequences also harm wage workers who may need to seek remedies through civil litigation. A janitor for Berkeley-based real-estate owners filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her former employer in which she claimed that her employer fired her in retaliation for her sexual harassment complaints.

She worked for this company and her supervisor from February 2007 until she was fired on July 1. She alleged that her supervisor asked her to have sex with him on several occasions, told her that he sexually fantasized about her and that she should leave her partner for him.

According to her complaint, the supervisor also engaged in frequent inappropriate sexual contact with her by rubbing and touching her body. She charged that he stared at her breasts and rubbed his penis while he looked up and down at her body.

The supervisor became angry and resentful at her when she objected to his conduct and he gave her more difficult and additional work. The plaintiff and other workers allegedly complained about his conduct to one of the other female supervisors who told them to ignore him.

The plaintiff and these employees also filed a criminal complaint of sexual battery with the Berkeley Police Department in May 2016. After the police investigated the case and issued a report on June 2, the supervisor allegedly texted the plaintiff's sister and said that he knew about the complaint and that the plaintiff should watch her back.

On June 7, according to the complaint, the plaintiff received a termination letter when she came to work. Her reduced monthly rent that she received as an employee was also ended and raised from $1,000 to $1,695.

The plaintiff also filed a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing on July 27 in which she charged harassment, discrimination and retaliation. The Department issued a case closure and right to sue notice that day.

The plaintiff further alleged that she did not receive rest and meal breaks required by law until May 2016 and was not paid regular and overtime wages. Her employer docked for her daily lunch hour even though she did not always take lunch.

An attorney can assist employees with pursuing their rights when their employer unlawfully terminates their employment. They can help assure that they are protected from illegal behavior.

Source: The Daily Californian, "Former employee files lawsuit against Raj Properties alleging sex harassment, wrongful termination," By Chantelle Lee and Ashley Wong, Oct. 6, 2017

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