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Recognizing Sexual Harassment in California

Thanks to the Me Too Movement conversations concerning sexual harassment are no longer whispered or feared. The movement shined a light on a dirty reality that stretches back as far as we can see in the workplace. So, let’s look at what defines sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment generally falls into two categories. The first is quid pro quo, Latin for “this for that.” This harassment occurs when sexual advances or conduct are exchanged for being hired, continued employment, promotion, or receiving earned benefits. This harassment can come in the form of an offer or a threat.

The other type of sexual harassment is generally referred to as a Hostile Work Environment. When offensive behaviors become pervasive in the workplace and alter employment conditions, interferes with work, or creates an intimidating or uncomfortable work environment.

It does not take a lawyer to define sexual harassment, but it often takes a qualified wrongful termination attorney in Los Angeles to get results for victims of sexual harassment.

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in California?

There are laws in place prohibiting sexual harassment both at the federal level, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and at the state level, under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Under both, sexual harassment is defined as a form of employment discrimination.

Here are some workplace behaviors that violate employee rights in California:

  • Discussing sexual acts
  • Proposing unwanted sexual attention
  • Offering employment or benefits in exchange for sexual favors
  • Threatening to hurt your conditions of employment if you refuse a sexual request
  • Making derogatory or sexually graphic comments, slurs, or jokes
  • Using sexually degrading or suggestive language
  • Issuing obscene messages or invitations
  • Ogling or vulgar gestures
  • Displaying or sharing sexually suggestive objects, pictures, memes, cartoons, or videos
  • Impeding or blocking your movements
  • Touching inappropriately (back rubs, patting or pinching, intentionally brushing against parts of your body)
  • Receiving adverse impacts, like loss of employment and/or benefits, after issuing a sexual harassment complaint

Sexual Harassment Should Never be Tolerated

California citizens are entitled to a work environment free from harassment. Employers are obligated to present a healthy workplace where you do not feel threatened or pressured. As a matter of fact, employers must provide employees with basic information about sexual harassment as well as having policies in place which cover harassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention.

These policies must also specify that the law prohibits engaging in harassment by not only supervisors and managers, but coworkers and third parties as well. The policy must also ensure that employees can report incidents of harassment using a prompt, thorough, and confidential process where the employee can be confident they will be taken seriously and treated with respect.

Violators of these laws and regulations can be held liable, and victims of these violations could be entitled to:

  • Hiring or reinstatement
  • Back pay or promotion
  • Damages for emotional distress
  • Changes in employer policies or practices
  • Attorney’s fees and costs, including expert witness fees
  • Punitive damages may also be available when employers commit a malicious or reckless act of discrimination or engaged in malice, oppression, or fraud

If you feel like your rights have been violated, or if you feel like your workplace is unsafe or threatening, contact Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers, Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney. Contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or calling us at 310-527-6994.


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