Farm workers, waitresses, janitors, retail workers, and hotel housekeepers are just some of the sexual harassment victims Legal Aid at Work attorneys represent. These women, who ranged in age from teenagers to women in their 70’s, experienced conduct at work that no one should endure: repeated rapes, unwelcome touching, pornographic materials, and sexualized comments. Their abusers were supervisors, co-workers and customers. Most of the conduct took place in the shadows, the back room of the restaurant, the supply closet of the office, the empty field early in the morning when these women were alone and vulnerable. Many times, these women, who were simply trying to support their families, were afraid to speak out about what happened due to their harasser’s threats or because they simply did not know where to turn.
For low-wage workers, sexual harassment has too often been a fact of life and many women are repeatedly harassed from job to job as well as enduring other unlawful discrimination and harassment (such as wage theft and pregnancy discrimination). The #metoo movement has begun to connect women’s outrage at the everyday sexual violence women have been forced to endure, reflected in Time Magazine recognizing the “Silence Breakers” as the 2017 Person of the Year. While Hollywood and other media celebrities have garnered much of the attention, in November 2017, farmworker women sent a letter to Hollywood offering solidarity. On January 1, 2018, Hollywood responded with a dramatic force – creating and funding Time’s Up, a multi-million dollar legal defense fund to support low-wage women workers in their struggles against sexual harassment and to connect them with lawyers.
The lawyers of Legal Aid at Work have answered the renewed call. We have joined the Legal Network for Gender Equality and will continue to be fierce advocates for low-wage workers who have been sexually harassed. Our legal advocacy includes Workers’ Rights Clinics and telephonic helplines that provide free legal advice throughout California, fact sheets and other legal information for workers’ about their rights, as well as direct representation for workers who have been subjected to sexual harassment at work (including filing cases in state and federal court). In addition, we provide free community trainings and engage with other advocates to improve laws at the local, state and federal levels.
We recognize and support the movement to raise awareness at the Golden Globes and other Hollywood events. We wear black in solidarity with the women walking down the #GoldenGlobes red carpet as they support women everywhere across industry lines. We are wearing black to keep the focus on ending sexual harassment and ensuring women and all other workers are free to live and work free from discrimination, harassment and sexual violence. #whywewearblack #timesup