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Sexual Harassment Basics

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Sexual Harassment: The Basics

The EEOC’s guidelines on sexual harassment define it as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

It is a term or condition of employment for an employee to submit to such conduct. The obligation may be stated explicitly or may be implied, depending on the case.

Employment decisions are made on the basis of whether or not the conduct has been submitted to or rejected.

The purpose or consequence of a sexual nature is to unreasonably disrupt work performance.

A sexually inappropriate behavior creates an intimidating, hostile, or upsetting working environment.

The most important term to remember is “unwelcome.” Unwelcomed implies unpleasant. Sexual behavior that someone considers unwelcome is regarded as such.

Sexual harassment may affect anyone, male or female. A woman or a man, and they may be of the same gender, can be the victim and the harasser. A male may target a fellow man, and a woman may target a female.

The legal definition of sexual harassment varies depending on the circumstances and persons involved. Sexual misconduct might take a variety of forms, including unwanted sexual advances or demands for sexual favors. Sexual harassment is any behavior that is unwelcome or unwanted because of its sexual nature, whether it’s direct or indirect. In some cases, sexually suggestive remarks or innuendos, and even sexually provocative jokes, might be sexual harassment. Unwanted touching or brushes against someone, as well as displays of sexualized material, can all be forms of sexual abuse. Finally, sexual assault or attempted or completed sexual harassment are examples of sex discrimination.

There Are Two Types Of Sexual Harassment Claims:

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment: when employment decisions – like promotions, assignments, or keeping your job – are based on your willingness to submit to the sexual harassment.
Hostile Work Environment Claims: A hostile work environment occurs when sexual harassment makes your workplace intimidating, unpleasant, or offensive.

Several elements are considered by the court to determine if a work environment is hostile, including:

  • Whether the behavior was verbal, physical, or both;
  • how frequently it was repeated;
  • Whether the behavior was hostile or patently offensive, for instance, is a question of context;
  • Whether you were harassed by someone who was a coworker or a superior;
  • whether or not others joined in the harassment; and
  • whether the harassment was directed at more than one individual

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California Sexual Harassment Basics

California has a law prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act codified at Cal. Gov. Code § 12940, makes it unlawful for an employer to engage in any form of harassment or discrimination against an employee on account of their sex, sexual orientation, sexual preference, gender identity, or marital or pregnancy status. An employer’s agent, supervisor, or other managerial personnel is prohibited from engaging in sexual harassment. If employers fail to take reasonable measures to prevent co-worker, third-party, and client sexual harassment, the FEHA makes it unlawful – and provides for fines against them. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically, contains provisions that prohibit sexual harassment. Both California law and Title VII define sexual harassment and set standards for employers to be held accountable for or allowing it.

The term “sexual harassment” is generally defined as two types of conduct. The first, known as “quid pro quo” harassment, occurs when employment perks are given to or accepted by an employee in exchange for tolerating or accepting unwelcome sexual advances. Second, there is sexual harassment based on a hostile work environment. A hostile working environment may be defined as one or more of the following:

  • Verbal harassment, such as derogatory remarks or slurs based on sex, gender, or orientation
  • Physical harassment including assaults and unwanted touching
  • Visual harassment includes posters, photos, cartoons, or other images of a sexual nature

Employees who have been subjected to sexual harassment may sue their employers for pecuniary compensation. A civil case can be brought on the basis of either type of sexual harassment. This can occur even if the victim has never been subjected to sexual advances or the demand for sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits.

A victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment must typically provide the following legal elements in order to succeed:

  • That the victim was an employee or a job applicant or a contractor providing services
  • That the supervisor (or another person with management over the victim’s employment) made indecent propositions or engaged in other unpleasant verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
  • That terms of employment, job benefits, or favorable working conditions were made contingent, by words or conduct, on the victim’s acceptance of sexual advances or behavior.
  • That the victim was harmed as a result of the unwanted sexual advances or behavior.

Unwanted sexual advances might include sexual propositions, unsolicited graphic discussions of sexual acts, compliments on the employee’s body and its potential uses as a sex toy, and so on. The victim may suffer physical or emotional harm, emotional distress, anxiety, and other medical issues, as well as loss of income resulting from a victim declining to accept the unwanted sexual advances.

A victim must demonstrate facts identical to those described above and show that the sexually provocative or abusive aspects of the workplace were serious enough or pervasive enough to substantially alter the conditions of employment and establish a work environment that qualifies as “hostile” to employees because of their sex in order to establish sexual harassment based on a hostile work environment. Under some circumstances, a single occurrence or slur or hurtful remark may be enough to establish an abusive and/or hostile workplace. However, to show such an environment, more than one incident is required.

A civil lawsuit can be brought against an employer by a victim of sexual harassment. The aim of these actions is to protect the rights of workers and, when feasible, to penalize employers who engage in deliberate sexual harassment or allow for particularly egregious conduct. Victims may be eligible for compensation in the form of lost wages, medical expenses, and other costs if the harassment resulted in physical or emotional trauma that necessitated medical treatment. Damages can include compensation for emotional suffering and other types of losses.

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How Long Do I Have To Report Sexual Harassment?

It’s difficult to speak up about sexual harassment. Some victims wait months or years before coming forward or never do so at all. All sexual harassment victims and witnesses are encouraged to contact one of our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers immediately about this situation so that we can take action to correct it. Because the statute of limitations varies by state, you may only seek compensation from one year to another if you work or reside there. You have one year to file a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing in your home state; 300 days to do so with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if employed or resident there. However, there are exceptions, especially if you work for the government or another type of government-related company. To ensure that you do not miss the deadline under the applicable statute of limitations, you should contact an experienced local harassment lawyer as soon as possible.

What Should I Do If My Employer Rejects My Sexual Harassment Claim?

After an incident, many people are silent because they are afraid of what will happen if they do speak up. If you experience sexual harassment at work, it is critical that you immediately notify a superior or a member of human resources.

Employers have a legal responsibility to thoroughly investigate any allegations of sexual harassment. A procedure should be in place at all workplaces to address these complaints. Employers should not tolerate this conduct, regardless of the circumstances, if the allegation is true.

However, some employers do not react to complaints. An employer may ignore a harassment complaint about any of the following reasons:

  • The employer does not take sexual harassment seriously and has no interest in investigating such claims.
  • There is a culture that allows for excusing high-performing employees and supervisors of inappropriate behavior.
  • The employer doesn’t see the nature of the complaint as “serious” enough to warrant intervention, such as not recognizing persistent sexual comments or a hostile work environment as a form of harassment.

Filing A Complaint With The EEOC

Employers who refuse to assist you in these circumstances are violating your employment rights. Employers are legally responsible for any sexual harassment that takes place within the organization’s premises. This can expose your employer to additional liability for sexual harassment. You can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing after reporting the incident at work. You may also file a complaint with the Department of Labor at this time. These institutions will examine your claim and pursue legal action as appropriate.

If the EEOC or DFEH determines that your complaint qualifies for sexual harassment and issues you a right to sue letter, you will be able to file a civil lawsuit against your harasser and employer.

While you may be concerned that your employer will not properly investigate your sexual harassment complaint, you should still observe your company’s sexual harassment policies. You may obtain verification by submitting a complaint that you requested assistance from your employer but were not given any. This information will aid you in filing a claim with the EEOC or DFEH and if your case goes to civil court.

Contact Sexual Harassment Los Angeles

Sexual Harassment Los Angeles has considerable expertise in dealing with the intricacies of sexual harassment cases, and we realize that these claims can be emotionally draining. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in Los Angeles, contact us immediately for a free consultation.

The Time to Act is Now 


Act now for a free consultation from our top-rated legal  team to discuss any rights or compensation that you may be entitled.

We will fight to get the maximum compensation owed to you for your case.

Complete The Form Or Call – (888) 530-4565

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