Under California law, an aggrieved person can bring a claim for defamation if the person is the subject of a false and unprivileged statement that is injurious to his/her reputation.  Defamation can take the form of libel or slander.  (Ca. Civ. Code Sec. 44.) Specifically “libel” is defined as a false and unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him in his occupation. (Ca. Civ. Code Sec. 45.).  Whereas, “slander” is defined as a false and unprivileged publication, orally uttered, and also communications by radio or any mechanical or other means which: (a) charges any person with crime, or with having been indicted, convicted, or punished for crime; (b) imputes in him the present existence of an infectious, contagious, or loathsome disease; (c) tends directly to injure him in respect to his office, profession, trade or business, either by imputing to him general disqualification in those respects which the office or other occupation peculiarly requires, or by imputing something with reference to his office, profession, trade, or business that has a natural tendency to lessen its profits; (d) imputes to him impotence or a want of chastity; or (e) which, by  natural consequence, causes actual damage. (Ca. Civ. Code Sec. 46.) 
Continue Reading California Law Now Provides an Express Statutory Privilege Against Defamation Claims by Those Accused of Sexual Harassment

The EEOC Special Task Force (“Task Force”) has spent the last 18 months examining the myriad and complex issues associated with harassment in the workplace. Thirty years after the U.S. Supreme Court held in the landmark case of Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson that workplace harassment was an actionable form of discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Task Force concludes that “we have come a far way since that day, but sadly and too often still have far to go.”

The Task Force was comprised of 16 members from around the country, including representatives of academia from various social science disciplines; legal practitioners on both the plaintiff and defense side; employers and employee advocacy groups; and organized labor. The Task Force reflected a broad diversity of experience, expertise, and opinion. From April 2015 through June 2016, the Task Force held a series of meetings – some were open to the public, some were closed working sessions, and others were a combination of both. In the course of a year, the Task Force received testimony from more than 30 witnesses, and received numerous public comments.  The Task Force focused on learning everything about workplace harassment – from sociologists, industrial-organizational psychologists, investigators, trainers, lawyers, employers, advocates, and anyone else who had some useful information.

Below is a summary of the Task Force’s key findings.

  • Workplace Harassment Remains a Persistent Problem. Almost fully one third of the approximately 90,000 charges received by EEOC in fiscal year 2015 included an allegation of workplace harassment on the basis of sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy), race, disability, age, ethnicity/national origin, color, and religion.
  • Workplace Harassment Too Often Goes Unreported. Common workplace-based responses by those who experience sex-based harassment are to avoid the harasser, deny or downplay the gravity of the situation, or attempt to ignore, forget, or endure the behavior. The Task Force found that roughly three out of four individuals who experienced harassment never even talked to a supervisor, manager, or union representative about the harassing conduct.Beth-West-15_web


Continue Reading The EEOC Special Task Force Issues Its Report on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace and Finds that “We Have Come Far But Still Have Far To Go”