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Sexual harassment claim alleges egregious conduct, retaliation

There is certainly no shortage of descriptions entailing flatly unethical and unlawful workplace behavior in a federal lawsuit filed recently in a California court.

The case involves Goodwill Industries as a defendant, which some readers might find ironic, given that the behavior allegedly inflicted by a supervisor on several female janitorial employees over a protracted period was manifestly not doled out in good will.

Rather, the women claim, they felt harassed, frightened and demeaned by actions they say routinely included things such as the man groping his genitals in front of them and uttering overtly sexual comments directed toward them. Additionally, notes a recent California labor law article discussing the case, the women stated that the supervisor subjected them to "inappropriate and unwelcome touching."

And yet he continued in his job, despite the victims' repeated complaints to company officials. In fact, the sexually harassing workplace behavior and abuse reportedly continued for years.

Moreover, it spelled peril for at least two employees who supported the women and dared to challenge it. One of them was allegedly reprimanded, transferred to night work and ultimately lost her job. The other reportedly suffered unfair workplace reprimands.

The plaintiffs in the federal litigation are five employees and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Goodwill is joined as a defendant in the case by Calidad Industries, a work affiliate. All the women worked night-shift hours at the Oakland Federal Building.

The women reportedly endured the supervisor's harassing conduct from about 2009 to 2012. In addition to their complaint's allegations of sexual harassment, the federal filing also states that the defendants subjected them "to disparate terms and conditions of employment" owing to certain disabilities they suffered from.

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