Sexual harassment is hard to define, and it may mean different things to different people. While many people assume that sexual harassment has to include inappropriate touching or remarks, that is not always the case. It can actually be much broader than that.
In the most general form, sexual harassment occurs any time a negative employment action takes place that is due in large part to your sex. While sex does not have to be the only reason the employment action took place, it should play a prominent role.
If you think your situation may be considered sexual harassment, you may have an employment discrimination claim. You need to speak with a Los Angeles employment attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Three Types of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment in California includes two overreaching categories or situations. These include:
1. Sexual Harassment –Hostile Work Environment
This type of harassment is perhaps the most well-known. A hostile work environment that would amount to sexual discrimination occurs when the behavior at issue is severe or pervasive enough to warrant a negative change in employment. The behavior must be more than a few uncomfortable instances; it must be so commonplace in the workplace that it has become normal and accepted.
In the context of sexual discrimination, a hostile work environment could be in place when male employees make comments and jokes about sex or female body parts to a female employee. It may include situations that portray women in a derogatory or sexual manner, such as by putting up photos of scantily clad women. It may involve sexual assault in some circumstances as well. These conditions must occur on a regular basis for the environment to be considered hostile.
The conduct must be both unwelcome and offensive to a “reasonable person.” If a worker is participating in the behavior, it is hard to say that it is harassing or unwanted. The conditions of the workplace are measured both objectively and subjectively—that is, you must personally find the environment offensive, and the average person would also agree with you.
2. Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
In quid pro quo harassment, a supervisor or co-worker offers to treat an employee favorably if they do certain things for them in return, often of a sexual nature. A supervisor or co-worker can also threaten to take unfavorable employment action if the requested favor is not performed. While many people think of quid pro quo as sexual intercourse or another sexual act, it can be something as simple as going on a date as well.
This type of harassment only occurs when the supervisor or co-worker can take some adverse employment action against the employee. That means that these cares are far more likely to involve supervisors or managers.
Sexual Harassment Versus Sexual Discrimination
When someone discriminates against you, they treat you differently because of your sex. For example, a woman making less than her male coworker who has similar experience and skill would be discrimination. This type of action is often referred to as “disparate treatment.”
As noted above, sexual harassment can lead to sexual discrimination in some circumstances, particularly where there is a hostile work environment.
Both sexual harassment and sexual discrimination are prohibited by law. If you feel that you have suffered from sexual harassment or discrimination, you need an experienced Los Angeles attorney to help. Call Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers at 310-527-6994 to set up your free consultation.