A woman from Stockton, California is claiming that she was fired from her job as a dental assistant at the University of Pacific, Stockton, after she complained about sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. The woman alleges years of exposure to his sexual references. The references, she says, included comparing her work uniform to women’s underwear. Many women were exposed to the dentist’s unwanted verbal harassment but none of them were willing to risk job loss by complaining.

After many years of tolerating the comments, even in the presence of other employees, the dental assistant and others did complain to the University’s human resources office. She alleges, however, that nothing was done by the HR department about the complaints. Once the complaints were made, she noticed a dramatic change in the conditions at her workplace, including a heavier workload and negative job performance evaluations. The University terminated her employment after she finally walked out of the office, unable to tolerate any further harassment.

She has filed suit against her supervisor, alleging sexual harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination. Regarding compensation, the amount claimed is unspecified, but includes back pay and lost wages. While the dentist has not commented on the lawsuit, the University stated that they “take any allegations of sexual harassment extremely seriously, investigate each such complaint, and take action as appropriate.”

Every employee should be made aware that sexual harassment in the workplace is considered unacceptable but, unfortunately, still happens in many workplaces. Employment lawyers could advise that sexual harassment is defined as any unwanted sexual behavior toward someone else. When sexual harassment occurs on the job, a lawyer may be able to aid employees to pursue a sexual harassment claim.

Source: News 10, “Stockton woman says she was fired for reporting sexual harassment”, Suzanne Phan, July 19, 2013