and can prove he's harassing women. I received a threatening phone call and afraid to return to work. Can I sue the studio?
Criminal Defense Attorney
I'd talk to my union rep about this asap. Your union should have local legal counsel that, if they can't talk to you, they can refer you to someone.
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Employment / Labor Attorney
It sounds like you have a triple whammy against them. Sexual harassment, retaliation, and concerted activity. Make sure to document everything, including saving/printing emails. Don't let any conversations happen purely orally. Follow oral conversations up with emails and/or record them. If you can prove those things you said, you have a good set of claims.
Definitely contact an employment attorney right away to discuss how to move forward.
5 lawyers agree
Employment / Labor Attorney
I am a California attorney and cannot give legal advice in your state. My comments are information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT OFFER SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I mention your state’s laws, it only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state to learn your rights.
I understand your question to mean you are represented by the Teamsters, not that you are employed by the Teamsters. If that is correct, then of course it is illegal to retaliate against an employee for exercising the right to engage in concerted activity; in other words, you have the legal right to speak with your union representative and if you are treated negatively because you took advantage of that right, then the employer violated the law. The employer probably also violated the contract, which surely includes a provision on union representation/recognition.
Also, harassment on the basis of sex is illegal under federal law, and perhaps your state law, too. Unlawful harassment is a form of discrimination. To be unlawful, the harassment must be must be based on a protected category, such as race, sex, religion, disability, age (40 and over), pregnancy, or genetic information. Harassment is also illegal if it is based on whistleblower status, taking or needing family leave, or some other protected category.
Harassment can include verbal conduct, slurs, derogatory comments, comments or questions about a person's body, appearance, religious, or sexual activity, or indication of stereotyping. Harassment can also include offensive gestures, sexually suggestive eye contact or looks, mimicking the employee in an insulting way, and derogatory or graphic posters, cartoons or drawings.
Harassment is unlawful when the conduct is either severe or pervasive enough to create an abusive environment. Severe conduct would include most physical contact and many types of threatening, vulgar or degrading conduct. Pervasive conduct is widespread, happens frequently and/or in many situations. One offensive statement is not pervasive, but the same comment made over and over again may be pervasive.
Your first step should be to speak with your union representative and ask to file a grievance. Be sure to disclose the details of the employer's retaliation for talking to a union rep, and also the harassment based on sex.
Also, I agree with Mr. Hensel about the importance of documentation. In addition to keeping copies of anything written that pertains to these events in any way, keep a log of any comments, adverse actions or other funny business, starting with the day the first adverse action took place. Write down the date, time, what was said or done, who said or did it, and any witnesses. Be sure to include any complaints you made to HR, your boss or anyone. Keep your log at home, not at work, because you never know what will disappear.
I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.
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