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Sterling Employment Law

TV series case highlights workplace sexual harassment of men

For decades, women have been victims of workplace sexual harassment, fighting off unwanted advances and threats from professional counterparts. But it is not just women who can be victims. In scenarios sometimes overlooked, men, too, have been targets of sexual harassment at work.

A recent high-profile case in California related to a long-running television series brings to light this topic. In late May, the state of California filed a lawsuit against CBS, Disney and the producers of the series "Criminal Minds," alleging the show's cinematographer sexually harassed crew members for many years.

All victims must speak up

In the lawsuit, California employment authorities claim the show's production team was aware and condoned the behavior of cinematographer Gregory St. Johns, who worked on "Criminal Minds" for 14 years. However, the victims - more than a dozen male crew members - were all fired after resisting the unwanted advances and groping of St. Johns.

The lawsuit alleges that St. Johns's behavior created a hostile work environment on the set of the show, which debuted in 2005 and concluded its run earlier this year. St. Johns was fired from the show in 2018 after the allegations of crew members were made public. In the lawsuit, the victims seek damages and back pay. In addition, documents disclosed that complaints to human resources resulted in meaningless discipline of St. Johns.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that men accounted for an estimated 17 percent of all sexual harassment claims that the agency receives. If you are the victim - male or female - of workplace sexual harassment, you need to speak up, document every encounter with your harasser and contact your manager or human resources representative. And it is crucial to contact an experienced attorney of employment law.

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