In a previous Orange County, California employment lawyers blog, Vincent Howard reported on a sexual harassment lawsuit settlement involving coffee giant Starbucks and a teenage barista--who accused Starbucks of failing to neglect her from sexual harassment and discrimination by a store manager.
In recent news, Starbucks is being sued again by a former employee for sexual harassment. According to the lawsuit, Kari Smith was constantly harassed and ridiculed by her co-workers at Starbucks. Smith claims that male baristas would hold her against the wall and grind against her with their bottoms. The lawsuit also states that her colleagues joked about the dark basement of the Starbucks café, calling it the "rape room" because there were no cameras there. Smith also claims that she was ridiculed for her tendency to faint, and her co-workers would make jokes about her disability in a derogatory and sexual manner.
According to the lawsuit, after Smith filed a complaint with her supervisors, she was fired abruptly in April without any explanation. She is seeking damages for discrimination and sexual harassment.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment in the workplace is against the law. According to Vincent Howard, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as any verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, sexual requests in the workplace environment, any sexual advances that are unwelcome, and can also include any offensive remarks about a person's sex. Retaliation against employees who stand up for their workplace rights is also against the law.