Sexual-Harassment-and-Women-in-the-Tech-Industry.jpg (2149×1159)The Tech Industry has a reputation for not treating women as equals and peers who bring as much to the industry as their male counterparts. While some may find it difficult to believe that a double standard still exists, recent allegations of sexual harassment at two tech giants – Tesla and Uber – show that the double standard may indeed still be alive and well. These reports have been in the news for years. First in 2012 when Ellen Pao filed a suit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers followed by Julie Ann Horvath detailing her experiences in 2014 while employed at GitHub. In 2016 Amelie Lamont filed a claim against her employer SquareSpace, alleging overt racism and sexism.

These latest claims from AJ Vandermeyden against Tesla and two claims against Uber by different women, as well as the revelation that one of the Uber Senior Vice Presidents resigned his position after the news was revealed that he had left a job at Google on the heels of an accusation from an employee there, show that either the problem still exists, is getting worse or that the female employees are standing up for themselves and coming forward working to ensure that the behaviors no longer continue.

The Elephant in the Valley

The much-reviewed Elephant in the Valley survey of 2015 revealed some staggering statistics from the 210 females surveyed. The survey report stated that the respondents were in broad age ranges, all with at least 10 years of experience and while their employment levels varied, 25% held positions of power and influence at the time of the survey. By the numbers 84% were told they were too aggressive, 47% reported being asked to low-level tasks that their male peers were never asked to perform. Sixty-six percent felt excluded from social and networking opportunities because of gender and 90% witnessed sexist behaviors from their male counterparts at offsite meetings and conferences. Another 88% have said that their male counterparts were asked questions that should have been directed to them and 84% state that their colleagues will make eye contact with males, but not with them. A staggering 75% note that during interviews they have been inappropriately asked questions about family, children, and marital status. In regards to unwanted sexual advances, 60% of women in tech have experienced these with 65% of the respondents stating these came from superiors. Of the women who reported sexual harassment within their organizations, 60% were dissatisfied with the outcome but worse, 39% did nothing because they feared reporting would damage their careers and their futures.

What next?

The Tech Industry employs more people today than any other industry segment, yet women still make up only about 30% of that industry. To continue to bring women to the table, what needs to happen to ensure that the working environment offers a safe, encouraging environment where women can shine, working side by side with their male counterparts? First and foremost, companies need to educate. Teach and train on the topic, then enforce appropriate behaviors. Make it acceptable for anyone to tell their coworkers when words or actions make them uncomfortable. Make it unacceptable for comments, jokes, and actions that are inappropriate for the workplace to go on.

As for the women who venture into these waters, what do they need to do? Remember that sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If sexual harassment or behaviors that make a worker feel uncomfortable are occurring, the employee must speak up. Let the would-be harasser know that the behaviors make you uncomfortable. Next, know and follow your employer’s procedures for handling and reporting ongoing behaviors. Document every conversation and every action taken. If the situation is not resolved internally, then you make need to take the issue to an outside agency such as the EEOC. If the complaint is still not resolved, then you may need to pursue litigation.

In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC), as well as the EEOC prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace as well as forbidding retaliation when an employee reports unwanted behavior.
At Aiman-Smith and Marcy, we demand that companies comply with state and federal laws related to this issue. If you have questions regarding workplace harassment, contact us today!

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986