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California worker: Employer took bathroom videos of female staff

In an ideal work setting, Los Angeles employers would be fully compliant with laws that protect workers' rights. Unfortunately, some companies still bend or break the rules, sometimes blatantly. The difference is that victims of harassment and discrimination know they have legal protections and are exercising their employment rights.

A sexual harassment lawsuit was filed recently against an Ontario computer parts firm where women make up 90 percent of the work force. The plaintiff said she and other women who worked for Mentor Media were filmed while using a work bathroom. A hidden USB video camera allegedly was positioned under the sink facing the toilet in the co-ed restroom.

A female employee discovered the camera in April. The complaint stated male staff members, in the plaintiff's presence, made sexual references and jokes about viewing videos of women workers in the bathroom. Male managers openly discussed at work what they had seen on the videos, including descriptions of the lingerie unsuspecting victims were wearing.

The plaintiff reported the incident to Ontario police after the secret bathroom camera was uncovered. Authorities confirmed the woman and other female workers had been filmed. The San Bernardino County lawsuit claims the videos were distributed among male employees in management.

The complaint also said Mentor Media work schedules changed suddenly after the employer learned the camera was found. The plaintiff stated managers began to monitor the female employees who appeared in the videos and talked about plans to retaliate by terminating the women. The legal action requests damages for failure to stop sexual harassment, creating a hostile environment, retaliation and invasion of the female workers' privacy.

The same labor laws apply whether work atmospheres are casual or formal. A company's internal culture cannot promote or ignore employee harassment and discrimination. Employees have a right to take legal action when co-workers and managers cross boundaries defined by employment laws.

Source: NBC Los Angeles, "Woman Sues Employers for Secretly Filming Female Workers in Bathroom" Jeanne Kuang, Aug. 08, 2014

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