#METOO at Work


1 in 3 women ages 18 to 34 have been sexually harassed at work.  71% of those women said they did not report it.
Source: Cosmopolitan survey of 2,235 full and part-time female employees, 2015

Within 24 hours from the time Alyssa Milano suggested on Twitter that people use #metoo to bring to light the prevalence of sexual harassment, the # was posted over 12 million times on Facebook.  This movement has empowered and emboldened people to speak up about being victims of sexual abuse in many forms and in different environments.  I applaud the movement and the strength it has given to the survivors.  Time’s Up.

In an office setting and from the perspective of an employer, however, this may lead unintended liability exposure if the victims of sexual harassment (i.e. the employees) are finally speaking up – and with the statistics I mention above, this is something that should not be taken lightly.

Whereas, before, someone may not complain for fear of repercussions on one’s career (as happened with me), this #metoo movement is giving victims of sexual harassment strength to believe that the serious repercussions will fall on the perpetrator, not on them.

The Supreme Court case of Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 118 S. Ct. 2275 (1998), established that an employer is vicariously liable for the acts of its employees “but subject to an affirmative defense looking to the reasonableness of the employer’s conduct as well as that of a plaintiff victim.” See Id. and Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 118 S. Ct. 2257 (1998).

In determining whether or not an employer is responsible for the acts of its employees, the Supreme Court looked to see if:

  • the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any harassing behavior, and
  • the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer or to avoid harm otherwise.

Basically, as more recent jurisprudence indicates, this means that the employer must take certain affirmative steps to prevent and correct harassment, including having a solid harassment policy and procedures.

But, having a great policy that no one reads is not enough.  A company should provide periodic training to its employees to ensure that they know exactly what to do in the event they do face harassment of any sort.  If the employees comply with the procedures, then the company has the ability to stop the harassment by taking necessary measures and liability is minimized. If the company has the policies and has provided the training and the employee fails to avail itself of the steps provided in the same, then, the employee’s unreasonable failure to take advantage of those procedures will help to minimize the company’s liability exposure. Training is therefore a win-win.

I will only briefly note that having a solid policy and providing training will not shield employer companies from liability where the harasser is the “Alter Ego” of the employer.

Who qualifies as “Alter Ego’s”?

  • president
  • owner
  • partner
  • corporate officer

Also important to note is that a company will not be shielded from liability if there is “[e]vidence that an employer did not monitor the workplace, failed to respond to complaints, failed to provide a system for registering complaints, or effectively discouraged complaints from being filed.”  See Vance v. Ball State University, 133 S. Ct. 2434 (2013).

At Begum Pelaez-Prada PLLC, we have been getting many requests from our clients to review their policies and provide training.  We would be happy to provide any further information. Feel free to reach out to me at: sasha@bp-plaw.com.






DACA: What’s Next?



Marisa Balderas-Flores

We are honored to have Marisa Balderas Flores, a fantastic immigration attorney, join our practice as Of Counsel focusing on immigration issues. With all of the changes a new Presidency brings, particularly to the area of immigration, we asked her to write a blog on a topic du jour – DACA. Here is her take on DACA:

Since the election of a new President in November 2016, the immigrant community has been instilled with a sense of fear and uncertainty as enforcement efforts have been stepped up across the nation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These enforcement efforts have even targeted some Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients.  Under the program started via Executive Order by President Obama, certain individuals brought to the United States as children and who meet the presence and good moral character requirements are protected from deportation for two years and are eligible for a work authorization permit.  Now with a new President in office, there is concern that the DACA program will be terminated, and that the Executive Order promulgated by President Obama will be overturned. Additionally, DACA recipients are left wondering if they will be able to renew their DACA status.

The DACA program has benefitted over 700,000 individuals in obtaining work authorization permits, driver’s licenses and other benefits, and as of this writing, remains in effect. For those individuals needing to renew their DACA status, you may continue to do so for as long as the program remains active. Furthermore, for individuals that meet the eligibility requirements and that may have still not applied, new applications are still being accepted and processed by USCIS.

While the future of the program may be unclear, for now DACA continues to be an  avenue for eligible applicants to obtain work authorization, among other benefits.

If you have any questions regarding your DACA application or renewal, please contact Begum Pelaez-Prada Law.

By: Marisa Balderas Flores, Of Counsel-Immigration


Copyright Law and Your Work

A copyright is of special importance to those who do creative work. Without one, your hard work goes unrewarded, because you no longer have a legal claim to the proceeds from it.

Whether you are a writer, a musician, a photographer, or any other kind of artist, a basic understanding of copyright law is one of the most important tools of your trade.

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Citizenship Liberty

To Those Seeking Citizenship

The United States is a nation of immigrants. Everyone who lives in this country, with the exception of Native Americans, is either an immigrant or the descendant of immigrants. The country continues to accept new citizens every year although the process today is a bit more complicated than it used to be when it only required a boat ride to Ellis Island.

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Practice Areas

Our Practice Areas

Corporate Law

Begum Peláez-Prada PLLC is committed to the continued success of your company. Our main priority is to provide clients with a business plan designed to produce long-term results.

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