Contract workers are often in an interesting place when it comes to what rights they have. For example, they may not have the right to take paid sick days. However, according to a court in California, they do have the same rights to be protected from sexual harassment that are given to any other types of employees.
The ruling was made when a contact worker said that she was harassed by a police officer. That officer was from Oceanside. The woman who was harassed — she said it happened on a repeated basis — was a phlebotomist, and she worked with the police when they needed to have blood drawn.
In any case, the woman decided to sue the city over the actions of the officer. She cited the Fair Employment and Housing Act, which is used in California. She asked for a significant amount in damages, and the jury sided with her, giving her a total of around $1 million.
The case then ended up in front of the California Court of Appeal. Officials representing the city said that the Fair Employment and Housing Act did not apply to the woman since she was not a traditional employee, but a contract worker. Therefore, they thought she was not protected against harassment. However, the appeals court did not see it that way, and it upheld the original judgement, saying that even contract workers should not be harassed on the job by police officers or anyone else.
If you have been facing harassment in a non-traditional work setting, be sure you know what rights you still have under FEHA and how your employer must respect those rights.
Source: hr.blr.com, “California: Are independent contractors protected from sexual harassment?,” Michael Futterman and Jaime Touchstone, accessed July 03, 2015