Employer-related sexual harassment cases surface in some of the most shocking situations. Consider a recent California lawsuit, in which a fast-casual restaurant worker alleges that she was pressured into stripping to her underwear at a company-sponsored seminar while strangers and colleagues gawked at her. She filed a lawsuit in February, claiming to be a victim of sexual battery and suffering from emotional duress.
The case involves a former worker at a Los Angeles-area Panda Express. in July 2019. The plaintiff alleges that employees attending a company seminar had to participate in trust-building exercises as a “prerequisite to promotion.”
If they did not participate, they likely would lose their jobs. She described the exercises as “bizarre” and considered them psychologically abusive. According to the lawsuit, as part of one exercise, seminar organizers coaxed the plaintiff and a male participant — also clad only in underwear — into standing in front of other participants and hugging.
Only days after the seminar, Panda Express fired her.
In addition to Panda Express, other defendants include Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy, a consulting firm enlisted to organize and oversee the seminar.
Seek legal advice if you have been harassed at work
Granted, the Panda Express case is an extreme example of workplace harassment. However, employees anywhere may encounter sexual harassment, hostile workplaces and retaliation. If you face such challenges, make sure to document all evidence, file complaints with your company’s human resources department and pursue legal action.