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Federal California lawsuit spotlights multiple harassment claims

It wasn't like officials from two companies now involved as defendants in a sexual harassment lawsuit lacked requisite notice that an employee was feared by many female subordinates that he supervised -- and allegedly physically and verbally abused -- on a long-term and regular basis.

In fact, and according to a recent California labor law publication, the women -- all night janitors working in the Oakland Federal Building for Goodwill industries and an affiliate enterprise -- had "repeatedly complained about their supervisor's actions" from their cited inception around 2009 right up until 2012, when his access to the federal site was blocked by government authorities owing to the complaints.

Those complaints are now at center stage in a federal court in northern California, constituting the basis for alleged violation of the federal Civil Rights Act and other laws. Five women are plaintiffs in the case, along with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The lawsuit contends that the supervisor "engaged in repeated sexually offensive verbal and physical acts" that both humiliated and frightened them. The laundry list of cited bad behaviors includes overtly "adjusting his genitals," making inappropriate sexually oriented comments around female workers and engaging in uninvited touching of employees.

Moreover, the suit alleges, other supervisors who noted the offensive conduct and reported or otherwise sought to challenge it suffered adverse repercussions for doing so. One of them was reprimanded, transferred to nighttime working hours, and ultimately left the company. Another received negative performance evaluations relating to work outside of his job description.

The litigation also alleges that the companies violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by subjecting disabled employees to disparate working conditions.

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