The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) was recently sued by an employee who claims that her supervisor subjected her to routine sexual harassment and discrimination after she became pregnant. The employment lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
A Slew of Discrimination and Harassment Allegations Against OWN
Rebecca Taylor worked in OWN’s deliverables and fulfillment services department under her supervisor, Nakisha Gowen. The lawsuit alleges that Gowen began harassing Taylor when she was three months pregnant and that the harassment continued even after her son was born.
Taylor says that Gowen would shame her for having morning sickness and would simulate squeezing her breasts during a meeting. The lawsuit also claims that Gowen would discuss and even act out sexually graphic movie scenes on a regular basis during mandated staff meetings. Gowen’s behavior escalated to sexual assault during a meeting where she simulated squeezing Taylor’s breasts while discussing how babies are obsessed with women’s breasts. At the time, Gowen even attempted to lay her head on Taylor’s breasts, according to the complaint. The lawsuit also claims that these behaviors were used to degrade and humiliate Taylor in front of her coworkers.
More Than a Sexually Hostile Work Environment
In addition to the harassment claims, Taylor’s lawsuit also alleges that Gowen retaliated against her for refusing to endure the ongoing sexual harassment. Taylor claims that the retaliation occurred when she was promoted to a manager position and was paid less than what she should have been paid.
Lawsuit Claims OWN Didn’t Do Enough to Stop the Harassment
According to the lawsuit, Taylor complained about the sexual harassment incidents to human resources on multiple occasions, but OWN failed to investigate her boss. Instead, the company simply conducted a workplace harassment training. Because Taylor was under so much stress, she had to leave OWN and claims she couldn’t work for nearly a year.
Taylor is not only suing OWN for sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and retaliation, but also for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Article adapted from original: ‘Own Employee Sues for Pregnancy Discrimination, Sexual Harassment’ via Hollywood Reporter
No one should ever have to worry about workplace harassment due to a pregnancy. If you feel your employer is subjecting you to sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination or retaliation, rest assured California employment laws are in place to protect you. Contact our passionate California employment attorneys at Hennig Ruiz today for a free consultation.