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WBS Legal Team Files LGBT Workplace Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against San Francisco Maintenance Company

SAN FRANCISCO, CA. (March 2020) – A man who alleges he suffered workplace sexual harassment by coworkers due to his sexual orientation and managers ignored his complaints filed a civil lawsuit in San Francisco County Superior Court.

“The harassment and retaliation that our client faced at his place of employment is unconscionable,” says attorney John Winer. “All employees, no matter their sexual orientation, should have a safe and inclusive workplace.”

In May 2011, the plaintiff Oscar Martinez Ibarra, an openly gay man, began working as a janitor for Able, a building maintenance company in San Francisco. He worked as a janitor for the company for nearly nine years. As soon as he started working for the company, Ibarra began experiencing sexually harassing comments from his coworkers.

Mr. Ibarra alleges that the coworkers named in the suit engaged in inappropriate, severe and pervasive unwanted comments and conduct based on his sexual orientation. The harassment continued as the years went on, with the comments becoming more sexual. On two occasions, a male employee slapped Mr. Ibarra on his buttocks, and after he asked him to stop, he said it was just a joke.

In 2015, Mr. Ibarra complained to his union president about the harassment he was experiencing, and after their meeting, his overtime hours were reduced and he never heard back from Able about the harassment complaints he filed. In 2018, Oscar complained to a supervisor, who then reported the harassment to an HR manager. After the complaint was filed, Oscar started being assigned more work, making him work through his lunch breaks. In 2020, he complained to his supervisor that he was being assigned too much work and didn’t have time to take his breaks, and the following month, he was let go from his job.

The plaintiff’s legal team includes attorneys John Winer, Mythily Sivarajah and Elana Jacobs with the law firm Winer, Burritt & Scott, LLP. WB&S is one of the premier law firms in California specializing in workplace sexual harassment, employment discrimination and sexual abuse.

If you or a loved one has been injured in California because of someone else’s negligence, you deserve legal advocacy that champions your best interests. You deserve legal counsel and representation from a law firm that has won record-breaking verdicts and settlements in California.

Coronavirus Triggers Workplace Discrimination

By John D. Winer

Coronavirus Triggers Workplace Discrimination

The coronavirus, COVID-19 has changed the dynamics of our workplaces and has increased the potential for discrimination based on xenophobic fears and social stigma towards certain people.

As the deadly virus spreads across the globe, coronavirus is causing widespread panic in every facet of life, including our jobs. People of Asian descent, especially Chinese-Americans are reporting an increase in racism as they find themselves subjected to suspicion and fear.

The behavior is being reported around the world but is especially harmful and damaging for American employees who experience occurrences of discrimination in the workplace. It’s critical that managers and HR professionals quickly address these issues and discourage this type of behavior from creating a toxic work environment. Part of that includes dispelling myths and factually incorrect information that people of Asian descent are not more likely to be infected or are the cause of spreading COVID-19.

It doesn’t help that some of the messaging out of Washington appear to blame China for the spread of coronavirus. According to the Washington Post, President Trump refused to denounce a White House staffer’s reported use of the phrase “Kung flu” to describe the coronavirus in a conversation with a Chinese-American reporter for CBS.

If you are experiencing discrimination by co-workers or supervisors are steps you can take to protect your rights.

Focus on facts not emotions: While experiencing discrimination is extremely painful, it’s important to remove the emotional elements and concentrate on the facts. Feelings and hunches don’t make a case. You’ll need concrete facts and details to prove a pattern of behavior.

Document the behavior: Make a record of the discriminatory behavior by keeping a detailed journal of the offensive actions. Make sure to include the time, date, location and names of the people who witnessed the behavior. Your notes should include a description of what happened and how you responded to the incident.

Report the discrimination: If the offensive behavior is repeated, report it to your HR manager. Your employer is required by law to investigate the incidents promptly. If you don’t receive any response from your employer, you may consider contacting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which is a federal agency responsible for overseeing anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws. Getting the government involved in your case will likely get the attention of your HR department.

Prepare for retaliation: According to the EEOC, most retaliation cases involve a worker who made a complaint. If you experience continued harassment, demotions or are terminated you should contact the EEOC.

Workplace discrimination happens to people of all races and genders and is more common than most people think. Inappropriate behavior frequently happens at work but not all inappropriate behavior warrants legal action.

Workplace Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against State Appeals Court Justice

WBS’s Kelli Burritt talked to Law.com about a new workplace sexual harassment lawsuit filed against LA-based State Appeals Court Justice Jeffrey Johnson who is accused of engaging in a widespread pattern of misconduct that demeaned, harassed and sexualized at least 17 women. Read More.

Sexual Predators Hiding Behind Dating Apps

By John Winer

Millions of Americans are using dating services to meet new people, but using them may come with a risk. A new investigation by ProPublica, Columbia Journalism, and Buzzfeed found that popular dating apps owned by Match Group including Tinder, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish, some of the most popular dating apps in the world, maybe harboring sexual predators, and company leaders are aware of this potential danger. As the use of dating services expands, companies behind these apps should have the moral and legal responsibility to screen users who are registered as sex offenders for the sake of its users.

Sexual Predators Hiding Behind Dating Apps

The investigation revealed that there were more than 150 instances of sexual assault involving dating apps, and approximately 10% involved users being matched with dates who had previously been accused or convicted of sexual assault. According to the report, most of the incidents occurred during first-time meetups in parking lots, dorm rooms and apartments. Mostly all of the victims met their attackers through the dating websites owned by Match Group.

While users of Match.com’s premium paid dating service are subjected to a background check that compares their name to state sex offender registries, it doesn’t take those same steps on the free services it owns. Match has previously agreed to screen for registered sex offenders to improve safety practices and issued statements promising to protect its users from sexual predators. As Match continued to evolve into Match Group and bought its competitors, the company didn’t extend this practice across its other platforms, allowing convicted and accused perpetrators to access the apps and leave users at risk of getting matched with a sex offender.

The investigation by Columbia Journalism Investigations prompted the U.S. House Oversight and Reform subcommittee to launch an investigation into the safety of online dating apps for allowing minors and sex offenders to sign up for their services. The investigation is looking into companies’ procedures for verifying ages, as well as looking into any complaints of assault or rape they may have received, and what exactly they’re doing to combat the problem. In response to this, Match Group said it uses every tool possible to keep minors and perpetrators off its services and continues to invest in technology to keep users safe. Besides safety issues, the investigation also seeks to address concerns about data the services request to make matches, including sexual orientation, gender identity and drug, alcohol and tobacco use.

Although dating apps and services have grown, the companies behind the apps haven’t made much progress to ensure its users are safe. The lack of structured and mandated background checking across the apps has left users vulnerable to offenders, and now with more people than ever using apps, Match Group has the responsibility to deploy new tools to help verify that the people using its dating apps aren’t convicted perpetrators waiting to catch their next victim with a swipe to the right.

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