Strategic Guidance for Sexual Harassment Employment Lawsuits
Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexual advances or behavior of a sexual nature, such as lewd remarks, derogatory comments, touching, groping, sharing of pornography, or assault. The federal law prohibiting sexual harassment is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law applies to employers with at least 15 employees. Title VII is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). California employers are also required to abide by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which applies to smaller employers.
What is FEHA?
Under FEHA, sexual harassment is never allowed and prohibited in all workplaces, regardless of how small the employer is. In most cases, California law protects workers more than federal law does. Additionally, under FEHA, damages are not capped based on the size of the employer, as they are under federal laws, such as Title VII.
It is smart to tell a harasser that the statements or acts are not acceptable and to try to notify your employer of the harassment, using the procedures outlined in your employment handbook. If no procedures are specified, you should report the harassment to HR. In California, employers can be liable for the sexually harassing acts of non-employees, such as vendors or independent contractors, if the employer knew or should have known about the acts yet failed to take immediate and proper corrective steps to address them. A sexual harassment attorney can help California employees prove that an employer knew or should have known.
There are two categories of sexual harassment: quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Quid pro quo harassment occurs if a job, continued employment, or an employment benefit is conditioned on your submitting to sexual advances. This type of harassment can only be perpetrated by an authority figure with the power to affect your employment status, such as a supervisor or manager. For example, if your manager offers a raise in exchange for a date, this is quid pro quo harassment. Other similar benefits that could give rise to a sexual harassment lawsuit, when premised on your acceptance of harassment, include a more favorable working schedule, a promotion, not terminating you, desirable job assignments, or hiring you in the first place.
Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment
At Salusky Law Group, our California sexual harassment attorneys can help you bring a hostile work environment lawsuit when harassing behavior is so bad or so pervasive that it changes the workplace and makes it abusive. It can be perpetrated by coworkers, supervisors, or managers.
In these cases, you may be able to recover damages for hostile work environment harassment if you can show that you received unwelcome sexual advances, remarks, or behavior based on your sex, and the harassment was pervasive or severe enough to change your employment conditions. To be actionable, the harassment cannot be trivial or a mild, isolated event. The court will look at whether a reasonable person in your position would feel harassed. For example, if your coworker repeatedly touches you, tries to go on dates with you, and gives or offers you sexually charged gifts, but HR does nothing when you report it, this would be actionable sexual harassment.
Count On Us As Seasoned Sexual Harassment Employment Attorneys
Workplace sexual harassment may have led you to feel degraded and alone. We're here to help advocate on behalf of you. Call us at (562) 855-0004 to schedule a case evaluation.