Sexual harassment is a type of workplace discrimination violating the laws of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. No employee should have to condone sexual harassment in the workplace just because of threats or fear of loss of employment. There are laws in effect to protect all employees. Perpetrators of sexual harassment should be held accountable. If you or your loved have been a victim of sexual harassment, get in contact with an employment lawyer today to discuss your rights.
Sexual harassment incorporates many scenarios. Unwelcome sexual advances are the most common, however, sexual harassment can incorporate inappropriate jokes, derogatory comments regarding gender, harassment regarding sexual orientation and more. No person should have to handle emotional abuse in the workplace. If you are being sexually harassed contact the attorneys at Larian Law Firm.
The workplace harassment lawyers at Larian Law Firm have decades of experience practicing employment law. We are determined advocates for abused employees and strive to do our best to get them justice. Our attorneys approach our clients with the utmost attention and care. Sexual harassment is not something to let lie and can become an even more serious problem over time. Act now and call an attorney at Larian Law Firm. We represent clients throughout the greater California area.
Do not let yourself be demeaned any longer. Dial (310) 720-0505 or schedule an online appointment for a free consultation today.
Federal and state laws have condemned sexual harassment in the workplace with acts such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Sex Discrimination Act 1984, and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. Sexual harassment is thus legally prohibited in the workplace or any professional setting.
Sexual harassment includes any unsolicited sexual advances, sexual demands, or other inappropriate verbal or physical behavior displayed in a social setting. Sexual harassment can happen to any employee, and the harasser can be anyone forming part of the work environment such as a coworker, supervisor, client, or customer.
California law also includes other forms of offensive behavior as well as gender-based harassment, including people of the same sex, and other offensive behavior of sexual nature as sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment becomes defined as such only when the behavior has been so consistent to the point of creating a hostile work environment.
Sexual harassment is much broader than many people realize. Unwelcome sexual advances, touching, pressure to enter into a romantic or sexual relationship and other commonly recognized types of harassment make up only a fraction of sexual harassment cases.
Sexual harassment may also involve derogatory comments about a person’s gender or sexual orientation, exposure to inappropriate jokes and other commentaries that makes the person uncomfortable. It can be characterized as unwelcome behavior that is based on sex, gender or sexual orientation that creates a hostile work environment.
The many varieties of sexual harassment fall into two broad categories: quid pro quo sexual harassment and behaviors that create a hostile work environment.
In a quid pro quo harassment situation, the harasser may offer a promotion, salary increase or other workplace incentives in exchange for sexual favors. Alternatively, the harasser may fire or demote a subordinate, threaten such actions, or otherwise harm or threaten to harm the career of a subordinate who refuses sexual advances.
Hostile work environment cases occur when an employee is harassed because of sex, gender, orientation, or gender expression. Some examples of hostile work environment behavior include making sexual jokes, making obscene remarks about a person’s body, touching another person in inappropriate ways such a kissing or hugging without their consent, or displaying sexually explicit material in the workplace.
A few examples of sexual harassment in the workplace include:
- Using derogatory comments, epithets or slurs;
- Making sexual gestures;
- Unwanted sexual advances (such as date requests, kiss requests, requests for inappropriate clothing, romantic gifts, marriage proposals and more);
- Actual or threatened retaliation;
- Invasion of personal space;
- Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors;
- Physical touching or assault;
- Impeding or blocking movements;
- Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters;
- Making “jokes” sexual in nature or general teasing due to gender;
- Comments that are sexual in nature;
- Constant sex stories or discussions;
- Sexually degrading words used to describe an individual;
- Obscene writings;
- Suggestive letters, notes, or invitations; and
- Graphic comments about an individual’s body (this includes unnecessary compliments about an individual’s body parts).
The harasser and the victim can be of the same sex or of opposite sexes. The harasser can be a manager, supervisor, owner, or co-worker within the company. Every form of harassment should be reported and handled internally within the company.
The laws regarding sexual harassment apply to for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, employment agencies, and local, state and federal government agencies. California Government Code § 12940-12951 states that it is the employer’s responsibility to monitor and rectify any sexual harassment in the workplace.
However, some may have exhausted these options and experienced pushback. In these cases, it is best to gain legal counsel. Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace may be entitled to monetary damages.
In addition to this, California Labor Code § 1102.5 states that all employees are protected from retaliation when investigating or pursuing legal action regarding sexual harassment. This means that even if your employer reacts negatively to your report, they are not legally allowed to wrongfully terminate or suspend you.
The laws regarding sexual harassment apply to for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, employment agencies, and local, state and federal government agencies.
SB 778 declares that by January 1, 2021 California employers with 5 or more employees must provide at least 2 hours of sexual harassment training or interactive training and education to all supervisory employees and at least 1-hour of sexual harassment training or interactive training and education to all nonsupervisory employees within 6 months of the employee’s first day on the job. The original deadline for this training was Jan 1, 2020, however the California governor gave a one-year extension for employer accommodations.
Employers, in California, are required to enforce a productive harassment-free workplace. An employer is violating the law if he or she allows preventable sexual harassment. The responsibility of the employer is to take immediate and appropriate corrective action once they know about harassing conduct.
California law states that companies with 50 or more employees are obligated to provide sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees. The training must last at the least two hours, and every newly assumed supervisor must complete the training within six months. Sexual harassment training must be given once every two years to company supervisors.
A sexual harassment training course in California must include:
- Information about the prevention and correction of abusive conduct;
- Examples of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation;
- Components and resources directed towards the reduction of bullying or harassment in general;
- Information and practical guidance about federal and state laws; and
- Information about the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in employment.
Alongside sexual harassment training, employers in California must develop a written policy regarding the prevention of discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation. Every employee must have this policy. A sexual harassment policy is required to include the following:
- List all protected categories covered under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA);
- Information about California law prohibiting coworkers, third parties, supervisors, and managers from engaging in practices unlawful under FEHA;
- Outlines a complaint process;
- The complaint process must have a way to report offending conduct without complaining directly to a supervisor;
- Supervisors are required to report any complaints of misconduct to a designated company representative. This is so the company can handle it internally;
- A fair, timely, and thorough investigation must be conducted if an employer receives allegations of conduct. All parties must have appropriate due process and employers must make reasonable conclusions based on evidence;
- An investigation is not required to be completely confidential. However, every complaint of misconduct must be confidential with the employer;
- If the investigation discovers offending conduct, an appropriate remedial measure must be taken; and
- Employees shall not be exposed to retaliation as a result of lodging a complaint or participating in any workplace investigation.
Employers, if they do not have informational documents, are also required to distribute a sexual harassment brochure or information sheet from FEHA.
However, employers are responsible for maintaining a work environment free of sexual harassment, and so may be liable even when the harasser is someone who does not work for the company, such as a client or customer.
If you feel you have been sexually harassed while at work, you should take the time to educate yourself about your options. The sexual harassment claim process can be complicated. You may be required to pursue remedies within your company and/or with government agencies such as the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment (DFEH) before filing a lawsuit.
If you are a victim of sexual harassment, here are some actions you can consider to protect yourself.
- Document It – Documentation is your biggest ally. Keep a notebook on you and write the details of the offending conduct. Be sure to include the harasser’s name, a thorough description of the event, and the date and time.
- Report It – Head to your supervisor or human resources department. Often, your supervisor will end the harassment before it escalates any further. Make sure that your report is in writing and filed. If possible, keep a copy of the harassment report in case you need to file a claim.
- Follow Your Employer’s Procedures – Your supervisor or employer has steps they must take to handle a sexual harassment report. Be sure to keep up with these processes and visit your employee handbook to see what else you can do. If your employer has not responded properly, consider legal counsel.
Understand that there are strict deadlines for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. In order for the statute of limitation to not run out, you must act quick.
If the actions of the harasser interfere with a person’s job performance, result in an intimidating work environment, or have negative practical effects such as termination, demotion, or transfer, then the victim may be entitled to compensation.
Among other damages, employers could be subject to pay for the following:
- Repaying employee’s attorney fees;
- Interest on the amounts won as a result of a lawsuit;
- Punitive damages meant to punish their employer for their wrongdoing;
- Compensation for the employee’s pain or suffering;
- Paying damages equal to the amount of money the employee may have lost from. For example, a wrongful termination, the refusal to promote an employee, or unequal pay;
- Paying the employee’s backpack, contributing to the employee’s retirement funds, or giving the employee other amounts that are meant to compensate them for all the harm caused by the unlawful acts; and
- Interest on the amounts won as a result of a lawsuit.
If you were a victim of sexual harassment, you need to take action immediately. You need to seek legal counsel experienced in employment lawsuits. Sexual harassment has the potential of creating a hostile and potentially dangerous environment for a worker and should not be taken lightly.
At Larian Law Firm, we have been highly successful in helping people who have been affected by workplace harassment. Contact us today to set up a free consultation and learn more about your workplace rights. We are compassionate about upholding employee rights and want to be your partner in this process.
Our attorneys at Larian Law Firm are familiar with federal and California state laws in the workplace and can represent you in a lawsuit. Our litigators will fight for your rights and seek recovery in a lawsuit. Though you fear your employment may be on the line, the law protects you and remember that your safety comes first.
Call (310) 720-0505 to schedule a consultation with our attorneys at Larian Law Firm or fill out a free case review form to get started. Our attorneys work with clients residing in the county of Los Angeles and throughout California.