Sexual harassment has no place in the workplace. Anyone who has experienced sexual harassment at work knows it can become an unbearable situation. If you have found yourself the target of derogatory comments, unwanted touching, or rude gestures, you do not have to tolerate this behavior. Your first course of action should be to report these actions to your supervisor and/or the human resources department. If it continues, you might be entitled to compensation under the law. Heit Law Group specializes in upholding clients’ rights and obtaining monetary settlements and judgements for bad conduct.
Sexual Harassment in California
There are many behaviours and actions that fall under the umbrella of “sexual harassment.” Some of these include:
- Derogatory comments, slurs, epithets, or jokes
- Sexually graphic comments, degrading words, or suggestive or obscene messages or invitations
- Unwanted or “accidental” touching or rude gestures
- Unwanted sexual propositions or discussion of sexual acts
- An offer of benefits in exchange for sexual favors
- A threat to diminish the conditions of employment if you make a complaint about the harassment or if you don’t comply with a sexual request, including reduction of hours, benefits, and pay rate
These behaviors are unacceptable and against the law. At the federal level, sexual harassment is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment at the federal level. The California law that prohibits sexual harassment is the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Under these laws, sexual harassment is considered a form of employment discrimination in the eyes of the law.
Types of Sexual Harassment
There are two types of sexual harassment that are recognized by both federal and state laws:
- Quid pro quo—This type of sexual harassment occurs when someone places a condition on your employment. For example, if you are offered a job or a promotion based on your submission to sexual advances or some other type of sexual conduct. Essentially, anytime a supervisor, or someone with authority makes unwanted or inappropriate sexual overtures then there is a basis for a claim.
- Hostile work environment—This occurs when the nature of the offending behaviors alters the conditions of the workplace. For example, offending behaviors are so pervasive, it interferes with your ability to work because of intimidation or hostility. The behaviors do not have to be aimed at you for you to experience a hostile work environment.
Do You Believe You Are a Victim of California Sexual Harassment?
If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment, you should follow these steps:
- Understand your rights. Your employer is required by law to respond to incidents of sexual harassment immediately and appropriately.
- Read your employer’s California sexual harassment policy. Your employer is required by law to have one, and it will describe the reporting process for incidents of sexual harassment.
- Report incidents of sexual harassment, following the procedures outlined in your employer’s policy as much as possible. Be as detailed as possible and include the names of any witnesses. Don’t wait too long to report the incidents.
- Use caution before posting anything about the sexual harassment on social media. Anything you post could be used to discredit you later.
- Seek legal advice from a California sexual harassment attorney to learn more about your options and to help determine whether it makes sense to file a lawsuit.
You might also have a right to recover monetary damages as compensation for emotional distress. In addition, you might be able to get your job back (if you have been wrongly fired), get back pay to which you are entitled, and see changes in the policies or practices of the employer.
Contact Heit Law Group if you believe you have been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. Every legal situation is different, but we can deliver real solutions for you. Call (310) 744-5227, email us, or complete our contact form. We never charge for your initial consultation and everything you say will always remain completely confidential, so you never have to worry about anyone knowing you spoke to an attorney.