Sexual Harassment Is Not OK In California Workplaces.
Illegal sexual harassment on the job may include the following:
- Overt physical actions such as unwanted touching
- Implied or expressed coercion for sexual favors in exchange for advantages on the job, such as promotions or raises
- Unwanted flirtations and/or jokes or teasing of a sexual nature
When such behaviors are persistent and your employer allows them to continue, you may be subjected to a hostile work environment. You have every right to expect this situation to stop, especially after you have reported the offenses to a supervisor, coworker or government authority.
You may have a valid claim or lawsuit against your employer when your ability to work under these conditions is impacted.
Laws Governing Sexual Harassment In California
As an employee in California, you are protected through both state and federal laws, including:
- The California Constitution, which bans discrimination by public or private employers on the basis of sex, race, creed, color and national or ethnic origin
- California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Government Code Section 12940(j)( 1), which bans discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation, including intimidating or offensive behaviors, whether motivated by sexual desire or not
- Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, which protects employees from severe and pervasive sexual harassment
These laws make it illegal for your employer to discriminate against employees based on their gender, and sexual harassment falls under this category of discrimination. You deserve to be free of either of these types of sexual harassment:
- Quid pro quo: For example, has a senior manager or another employee demanded sexual favors from you in exchange for a promotion, a job or another workplace benefit?
- Hostile work environment harassment: Does a supervisor or another employee make sexually suggestive comments, gestures or advances? Do they subject you to pictures, emails, texts, touches or off-color humor that unreasonably interfere with your work performance?
Your employer can be held liable for failing to prevent this type of behavior, even if it comes from a nonemployee customer or an independent contractor.
A Broader Definition Of Hostile Work Environment Harassment
Although the notion of a hostile working environment is often associated with sexual harassment, other protected categories can also form the basis of a valid claim, such as harassment based on race, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or medical condition.
As long as the harassing activities, taken as a whole, are severe and pervasive enough to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive working environment, your employer can be held liable for any damages you may have incurred, especially if you have been fired as a result.
Retaliation Is Also Forbidden
It is a serious violation of the law for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting harassment to a manager or human resources or to an outside authority such as the EEOC or DFEH.
If you are fired or demoted after complaining about sexually harassing behavior or conditions or other types of harassment, you may have an additional claim for wrongful termination.
What To Do If You Experience Harassment
If you are experiencing sexual harassment on the job or have been fired after complaining about it, protect yourself as follows:
- Document the unwanted behavior such as sexual advances, emails, letters, text messages and displayed provocative images.
- Contact us to talk with an attorney and explore your rights and options, including how to ask the offender to stop if your employment is continuing.
- Comply with your company’s grievance process.
- Keep records of all phases of your case to protect yourself in case you experience retaliation.
At The Velez Law Firm, PC, our employment law and wrongful termination attorneys have extensive experience litigating sexual harassment cases of all types.
Put Our Strong Track Record On Your Side
Time and again since our firm’s founding in 1978, we have delivered noteworthy results for our clients, including recovery of economic, emotional and punitive damages.
We offer free and confidential consultations and often take sexual harassment cases on a contingency basis. If this is true in your case, you will not owe pay us attorney fees until we achieve a successful resolution of your lawsuit.