Gender Discrimination and Harassment Lawsuit Against CSC

April 18, 2012 : Today, a former employee of Computer Sciences Corporation (“CSC”) filed a gender discrimination and harassment lawsuit against CSC. The Complaint, which was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court (Case No. BC482993), alleges that CSC, a multi-billion dollar company which provides information technology and business services to companies throughout the world, routinely paid women less than men and denied them higher-paying and more prestigious positions. According to the Complaint, CSC has a practice of retaliating against women who complain by demoting or removing them from their positions, withholding their pay, and/or firing them.

The plaintiff, Anne Roeser, was a high level executive at CSC, who, according to the Complaint, was subjected to pervasive gender discrimination and harassment by some of the Company’s Indian male executives who did not want to work with women and who openly stated that women should stay at home, take care of their husbands and raise their children. These Indian male executives, the Complaint alleges, were openly hostile to women, they made sexist and derogatory remarks about women (calling them “girl,” “blonde,” and “white woman”), they demeaned the jobs held by women (saying, for example, that one high-level female executive’s job was merely to take clients out to lunch and go shopping with them), they refused to communicate with women about substantive work-related issues, and they behaved toward women in an aggressive, condescending and intimidating manner.

According to the Complaint, when Ms. Roeser complained about the gender discrimination and harassment and the illegal conduct in which some of these executives were involved, she was demoted, denied earned wages, otherwise retaliated against, and told to stop complaining. When she continued to complain, she was fired. The Complaint alleges that among other illegal conduct, Ms. Roeser complained that the Company’s off-shore Indian employees engaged in over 6,000 instances of illegally accessing the private health and financial information of the patients of one of the Company’s largest health care clients in violation of HIPAA, the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, and the privacy rights of these patients.
Commenting about these allegations, Ms. Roeser’s attorney, Andrew H. Friedman of Helmer * Friedman, LLP, said, “Unfortunately, the glass ceiling really does exist at many companies. Hopefully, lawsuits like this one will shatter that ceiling and enable women to reach the same levels in corporate America occupied by men.”

Girls for Gender Equality

In New York City, Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) has been advocating for increased school safety – a decade-long campaign led by parents, teachers, and female and LGBTQ students. And if there is one thing the teen women of color organizers at Girls for Gender Equity want you to know, it is that Title IX of the Education Amendment does not only apply to college sports – the area most associated with Title IX enforcement.
“It is hard to envision a school without sexual harassment. However, if one existed, I imagine it would be a place where kids can excel as students instead of having to worry about what is going to be said or done to them the next time they go in the hallway,” says former GGE youth organizer Kai Walker.
In April 2010 and April 2011 the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the US Department of Education released two “Dear Colleague” letters to “provide guidance” and “examples of remedies and enforcement strategies” for reported sexual harassment infractions in public schools. While this public acknowledgement from the Obama Administration is a step in the right direction, the tactic ultimately lacks teeth. The letters simply restate what the law already requires. It politely requests officials to increase their efforts at enforcement, but does not take steps to ensure mandatory application of the federal law. For all practical purposes, the “Dear Colleague” letters do not go beyond lip service.

• Girls for Gender Equity organizers celebrating the launch of Hey, Shorty: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets. Photograph courtesy of the author. •
As a result, grassroots organizations like GGE rely on the strength of the members of their own communities to hold schools accountable for failing to keep students safe. Nearly forty years after Title IX’s passage, GGE’s youth-led research project on sexual harassment in the New York City public schools found that nearly 1 in 4 students are sexually harassed in school every single day – with behaviors that range from verbal (71 percent) to physical (63 percent) to criminal sexual assault (10 percent).
College student Kayla Andrews was a part of the research team. She says, “If given the golden opportunity to converse with President Obama regarding Title IX in public schools, I would first and foremost introduce him to a day in the life of students. I would tell him stories of how girls walk briskly to class out of fear of being harassed and boys who feel uncomfortable being their true selves because they fear ridicule and abuse.”
In Hey, Shorty: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets, GGE Community Organizer Nefertiti Martin recalls what it was like for her to be called homophobic slurs at school: “Before I even knew what gay was, somebody managed to find something to say about my limp wrists and effeminate lisp. Teachers and faculty tell me some lines about how sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. But words have always hurt me.”
Chiamaka Agbasionwe agrees and shares about a classmate who “made me feel disgusted with myself. He made me second-guess what I wore that day, how my hair looked, and just me as a woman. His ‘compliments’ were insults knowing the disrespectful connotations behind them. His looks were knives through my self-esteem.”
Kayla wants President Obama to know about the lack of support for students who are sexually harassed at school. “I would make the President aware of just how difficult it is to find someone within the school who actually knows what Title IX is, much less follows the procedures for recording sexual harassment offenses,” she says.
GGE found that a mere 3 percent of students made a report after being sexually harassed, and 22 percent say they were further traumatized by school staff after making the report. Over half say they did not know how students who sexually harassed others were dealt with at their school because there was no follow-up with them by school authorities. And less than 2 percent feel the perpetrator was dealt with appropriately.
“Enforcing Title IX alone cannot end sexual harassment, but it can mitigate it,” says GGE youth organizer Nkeya Peters. “The way it can be alleviated in public schools is by raising awareness and hiring social service workers to properly address the issue and its consequences.”
With Hey, Shorty!, Girls for Gender Equity seeks to broaden people’s understanding of Title IX and shine a light on the ineffectual nature of an unenforced federal law. As the group moves forward with its community-based work, Hey, Shorty! offers youth and adult allies nationwide an accessible guide to implement in their own schools and cities to combat unwanted sexual attention and LGBTQ bullying. The model they use shows that young women who are given adequate support can successfully mobilize to demand accountability in their schools. It demonstrates that safety does not have to be an impediment to an education.
“It takes living in the shoes of a sexually harassed student to know just how detrimental harassment can be to one’s education,” says Kayla. “If President Obama wants to address the issues in this country regarding education, he needs to start at the root of the problem, which includes the reasons why students avoid going to school in the first place.”

• A Public Service Announcement on Title IX created by Girls for Gender Equity and the Coalition for Gender Equity in Schools. •

About the Author:
Mandy Van Deven is the co-author of Hey, Shorty: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets, a book about Girls for Gender Equity’s nine years developing an effective organizing strategy to end gender-based violence in New York City’s public schools. Her writing can be found at www.mandyvandeven.com.

PATIENTS ALLEGE SANTA MONICA AREA PHYSICIAN ENGAGED IN INAPPROPRIATE CONDUCT DURING BREAST EXAMS

PATIENTS ALLEGE SANTA MONICA AREA PHYSICIAN ENGAGED IN INAPPROPRIATE CONDUCT DURING BREAST EXAMS

Two Former Patients of Dr. Lawrence H. Resnick Allege that Their HMO referred them to Dr. Resnick Despite Knowing of Alleged Propensity                                                 
June 8, 2011:  Today, two former patients of Dr. Lawrence H. Resnick filed a lawsuit against the Santa Monica-based physician and his clinic, the Woman’s Breast Center, alleging that he engaged in inappropriate, unprofessional and offensive conduct during breast examinations.  The patients, Angela Crickman and Lisa Grebe, also asserted claims against their HMO, Bay Area Community Medical Group (“Bay Area”), alleging that Bay Area referred them to Dr. Resnick despite knowing that he had a pattern, practice and/or history of engaging in such conduct.  Among other things, they allege that Bay Area had received complaints from other female patients and that Bay Area knew, or should have known, that Dr. Resnick had been sanctioned by the Medical Board of the State of California for engaging in unprofessional conduct during a breast examination.  See http://www.medbd.ca.gov/publications/hotsheet_2008_01.pdf   http://www.medbd.ca.gov/publications/hotsheet_2008_01.pdf).Ms. Crickman (but not Ms. Grebe) has also asserted a claim against her primary health care provider, Peak Medical Group, Inc. (“Peak Health”), for allegedly referring her to Dr. Resnick despite knowing of his propensity to engage in inappropriate conduct during breast examinations.  Bay Area has since been acquired by UCLA Health Systems.

In the Complaint, which was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court (Case No. BC463109), Ms. Crickman alleges, among other things, that Dr. Resnick was flirtatious and suggestive, and made numerous inappropriate comments about her physical appearance, while he conducted an ultrasound examination of her breasts.  Ms. Grebe similarly alleges that Dr. Resnick engaged in sexually offensive, flirtations and suggestive conduct toward her while performing an examination.  She also alleges that he kissed her on the cheek.

In their Complaint, Ms. Crickman and Ms. Grebe assert claims for sexual harassment by a physician in violation of California Civil Code Sections 51.9 and 52, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.  They have also asserted claims (by Ms. Crickman against Bay Area and Peak Health; by Ms. Grebe against Bay Area) that defendants violated the California Unruh Act, alleging that the defendants failed to provide or apply the same level of scrutiny to physicians to whom they referred their female patients as they did to those to whom they referred their male patients.

Commenting about these allegations, plaintiffs’ attorney, Gregory D. Helmer of Helmer • Friedman, LLP, said, “In the fight against breast cancer, it is well known that early detection and diagnosis is critically important.  While these are allegations at this point, it is obviously critical  that there be nothing – including the conduct of a physician – that might discourage patients from seeking  diagnostic examinations.”

For additional information or a PDF copy of the Complaint, contact:
            Gregory D. Helmer (ghelmer@helmerfriedman.com)
            Andrew H. Friedman (afriedman@helmerfriedman.com)
            Kenneth A. Helmer (khelmer@helmerfriedman.com) 
            Helmer • Friedman, LLP, (310) 396-7714                                         
            (www.helmerfriedman.com)

Copyright © 2011 Helmer Friedman, LLC. All rights reserved. Publication rights granted so long as article and byline are reprinted intact, with all links made live.

PATIENTS ALLEGE SANTA MONICA AREA PHYSICIAN ENGAGED IN INAPPROPRIATE CONDUCT DURING BREAST EXAMS

Two Former Patients of Dr. Lawrence H. Resnick Allege that Their HMO referred them to Dr. Resnick Despite Knowing of Alleged Propensity                                                 
June 8, 2011:  Today, two former patients of Dr. Lawrence H. Resnick filed a lawsuit against the Santa Monica-based physician and his clinic, the Woman’s Breast Center, alleging that he engaged in inappropriate, unprofessional and offensive conduct during breast examinations.  The patients, Angela Crickman and Lisa Grebe, also asserted claims against their HMO, Bay Area Community Medical Group (“Bay Area”), alleging that Bay Area referred them to Dr. Resnick despite knowing that he had a pattern, practice and/or history of engaging in such conduct.  Among other things, they allege that Bay Area had received complaints from other female patients and that Bay Area knew, or should have known, that Dr. Resnick had been sanctioned by the Medical Board of the State of California for engaging in unprofessional conduct during a breast examination.  See http://www.medbd.ca.gov/publications/hotsheet_2008_01.pdf   http://www.medbd.ca.gov/publications/hotsheet_2008_01.pdf).Ms. Crickman (but not Ms. Grebe) has also asserted a claim against her primary health care provider, Peak Medical Group, Inc. (“Peak Health”), for allegedly referring her to Dr. Resnick despite knowing of his propensity to engage in inappropriate conduct during breast examinations.  Bay Area has since been acquired by UCLA Health Systems.

In the Complaint, which was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court (Case No. BC463109), Ms. Crickman alleges, among other things, that Dr. Resnick was flirtatious and suggestive, and made numerous inappropriate comments about her physical appearance, while he conducted an ultrasound examination of her breasts.  Ms. Grebe similarly alleges that Dr. Resnick engaged in sexually offensive, flirtations and suggestive conduct toward her while performing an examination.  She also alleges that he kissed her on the cheek.

In their Complaint, Ms. Crickman and Ms. Grebe assert claims for sexual harassment by a physician in violation of California Civil Code Sections 51.9 and 52, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.  They have also asserted claims (by Ms. Crickman against Bay Area and Peak Health; by Ms. Grebe against Bay Area) that defendants violated the California Unruh Act, alleging that the defendants failed to provide or apply the same level of scrutiny to physicians to whom they referred their female patients as they did to those to whom they referred their male patients.

Commenting about these allegations, plaintiffs’ attorney, Gregory D. Helmer of Helmer • Friedman, LLP, said, “In the fight against breast cancer, it is well known that early detection and diagnosis is critically important.  While these are allegations at this point, it is obviously critical  that there be nothing – including the conduct of a physician – that might discourage patients from seeking diagnostic examinations.”

For additional information or a PDF copy of the Complaint, contact:
            Gregory D. Helmer (ghelmer@helmerfriedman.com)
            Andrew H. Friedman (afriedman@helmerfriedman.com)
            Kenneth A. Helmer (khelmer@helmerfriedman.com) 
            Helmer • Friedman, LLP, (310) 396-7714                                         
            (www.helmerfriedman.com)

Copyright © 2011 Helmer Friedman, LLC. All rights reserved. Publication rights granted so long as article and byline are reprinted intact, with all links made live.

Sexual Harassment Investigations

The most important anti-harassment policy is always prevention.  One of the best ways of handling sexual harassment is having a clearly written policy stating that sexual harassment is not tolerated.  This policy should clearly assure complainants would not be treated negatively for making a claim of harassment. An anti-harassment policy is not effective without such assurance.  A good practice is to have a telephone number that employees can call anonymously with questions and concerns about sexual harassment. Once an allegation is made and it is evident that an investigation is necessary the fact-finding investigation should be launched immediately.  

According to The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and as the Supreme Court stated, “Title VII is designed to encourage the creation of anti-harassment policies and effective grievance mechanisms.”  While the Court noted that this “is not necessary in every instance as a matter of law,” failure to do so will make it difficult for an employer to prove that it exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct harassment.  Anti-harassment policies and procedures should be provided to each employee, preferably during the initial training and post the written anti-harassment policy in central locations such as break rooms and locker rooms and redistribute it regularly.  The policy should contain a clear explanation of unacceptable conduct, assurance that complaints will not be followed by retaliation and a suggested means of filing a complaint.  It should include a statement of confidentiality and assurance of an impartial investigation and immediate corrective action along with time frames for filing charges of unlawful harassment with the EEOC or state fair employment agency.  Anti-harassment policies should include all forms of harassment: whether based on age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability and include harassment by anyone including supervisors, co-workers and non-employees. 

Harassment complaint procedures should be designed to encourage victims opposed to discouraging victims of harassment with invasive reporting procedures.  A procedure that appears too complicated and full of obstacles can discourage reports. Employees should be encouraged to report harassment early, before it becomes severe and disruptive to their work environment.  Effective complaint processes establish accessible contacts outside the chain of command for the initial complaint. Employees should understand that while the employer will make every attempt to protect confidentiality, certain information must be shared to conduct a proper investigation.  Even if the employee requests no action, an employer has a responsibility to investigate allegations or be held liable. 

While each case will vary tailor complainant interview questions accordingly, very basics questions should include: who, what, where, when and how:

  • Who committed the alleged harassment?  What happened exactly?  When and how often did it occur?  Where did the harassment take place?  How did it affect the complainant?
  • Did the alleged harassment affect your job in anyway?
  • Are there witnesses?  Is there anyone with relevant information?  Did you tell anyone that you were harassed?  Did anyone see you immediately following the alleged harassment?
  • Do you know of anyone else harassed by the same person?  If so, did they report the incident?
  • Is there any physical evidence, notes, or documentation regarding the incident or incidents?
  • How would you like the situation resolved?

     
Once the complainant is interviewed, the EEOC offers a guideline of questions to ask the alleged harasser:

  • What is your response to the allegations?
  • If the harasser denies the allegations, ask why the complainant might lie and if there is anyone that may have relevant information?
  • Is there any physical evidence, notes, or documentation regarding the incident or incidents?

You should also interview any third parties that may have relevant information.  The following questions are useful as a guideline for interviewing witnesses or third parties:

  • What did you see or hear?  When did this occur?  Describe the alleged harasser?s behavior toward the complainant and toward others in the workplace.
  • What did the complainant tell you and when did he/she tell you?
  • Do you have other relevant information or do you know of anyone else that would have relevant information.

 Once an allegation is made, and all parties have been interviewed the interviewer will need to weigh each parties credibility to reach a determination.  During this process measures should be taken to prevent all contact between the harasser and complainant.  The complainant however should not be transferred involuntarily.  Upon reaching a decision the parties should be informed of the determination.  For more information visit the Helmer Friedman LLP sexual harassment, employment violation leaders at http://www.helmerfriedman.com.

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Copyright 2009 Internet Market Consulting. All Rights Reserved. Publication rights granted so long as article and byline are reprinted intact, with all links made live.