Aaron Glaser, a male comic in New York who was banned from performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade (“UCB”) Theater in 2016 following complaints by multiple women of rape, is now suing UCB, contending that UCB’s actions were unlawful and constituted reverse gender discrimination. According to the complaint, on August 11, 2016, the comic was summoned to UCB’s main offices to discuss the complaints made against him.  The comic alleges that he was only told that “in the past people feel as though you raped them” and that the conduct had occurred in 2010 or before. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently announced that Plastipak Packaging, Inc. (“employer”) will pay $90,000.00 to settle a retaliatory discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC on behalf of a former female employee who the EEOC said the employer fired because she complained that another employee sexually harassed her. According to the EEOC, the employer, instead of investigating the complaint, chose to fire the employee.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. It generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments. Title VII also applies to private and public colleges and universities, employment agencies, and labor organizations.

This year, sexual harassment in the workplace has been a hot topic in the news, inciting animated discussion about the role companies are playing in preventing or fostering workplace harassment and whether or not companies are taking appropriate action when claims of harassment are made by employees.  In some of the instances where women have brought claims of harassment against high-profile men in politics, media, and entertainment, the women were required to sign agreements with their employers to keep work-related legal claims in arbitration.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in both the United States Senate and House of Representatives have introduced legislation that would ban pre-dispute arbitration agreements of sexual misconduct claims. The bipartisan bills would allow those who allege sexual harassment or gender discrimination in the workplace to take their claims to court rather than mandatory arbitration, even if the employee had previously signed an arbitration agreement.

In November of 2017, a group of 700,000 female farmworkers sent an open letter to Hollywood actors following the Weinstein scandal. In that letter, the farmworkers explain that farmworker women across the country suffer in silence because of widespread sexual harassment and assault they face at work. You can read the letter here. In response, over 300 women who work in film, television, and theatre have written a letter, published on January 1, 2018, expressing their solidarity with and support of farmworker women and those in other industries who have been victims of sexual harassment and assault. 

Judge Alex Kozinski, a long serving judge and former Chief Justice for the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (“Ninth Circuit”), has announced his retirement effective immediately over allegations he subjected at least 15 women to inappropriate sexual behavior dating back to the 1980s.

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