Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Attorney
What is Sexual Harassment?
When harassment includes unwanted sexual advances, requests or demands for sexual favors, or any other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, it is considered sexual harassment.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”
Some examples of sexual harassment in the workplace include:
- Discussing sexual topics, telling sexual stories, asking sexual questions, or making sexual innuendos
- Requesting sexual favors
- Unwanted physical contact such as touching, leaning over, cornering, or groping
- Unwanted sexual looks or gestures such as blowing kisses, simulating sexual movements, batting one’s eyes, licking one’s lips, etc.
- Sexual remarks, jokes, or questions
- Pressuring someone for a date or dates, especially if done so repeatedly
- Referring to someone by names such as babe, doll, girl, honey, hunk, etc.
- Whistling or cat calling
- Making comments about another person’s body, looks, clothes, etc.
- Touching or rubbing oneself sexually around another person
The EEOC states that sexual harassment can occur in many different circumstances, including but not limited to the following:
- The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
- The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
- The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
- Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
- The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
What is Quid Pro Quo Harassment?
The latin term “quid pro quo” means “something for something”. “Quid pro quo” sexual harassment occurs when an employer, manager, supervisor, or other person with power over an employee hints that they will give something, whether it be a promotion, work assignment, raise, etc., in return for sexual favors.
In order to be a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim, the claimant must be able to prove:
- They were employed by or applied for a job with the company in question.
- The alleged harasser was a supervisor or agent of the company in question.
- The alleged harasser made an unwanted sexual advance.
- Job benefits were conditioned.
- The claimant was harmed by the alleged conduct.
- The alleged harasser’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm.
What is a Hostile Work Environment?
A hostile work environment exists when one’s behavior within a workplace creates an environment that is difficult or uncomfortable for another person to work in, due to discrimination.
In order to prevail in a hostile environment sexual harassment claim, the claimant must show:
- The claimant was subject to unwelcome sexual harassment;
- The harassment was based on the claimant’s sex;
- The harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive working environment; and
- The relationship between the employer and the person committing the harassing conduct is adequate to impose liability on the employer.
What Should I do If I’ve Experienced Sexual Harassment at Work?
If you have been sexually harassed at work, the first thing the EEOC recommends is to inform the harasser directly that their conduct is unwelcome and must stop. You should also use any available grievance mechanism to file a complaint with your employer and document the harassment yourself.
It is not uncommon for the harasser or the employer to retaliate against the employee who has made a harassment claim. The State of California actually provides for a separate legal claim to be made if the employer doesn’t take steps to prevent the harassment.
If the sexual harassment at work doesn’t stop, the next step is to file a claim with either the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A claim filed with one of those organizations is automatically cross filed with the other. Claimants have 180 days to file a claim. Once the organization (either DFEH or EEOC) performs an inquiry into the matter, they may issue you a right-to-sue letter.
If you are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, know that you have options and support for when you decide to come forward.
Sexual Harassment Lawyer in Los Angeles
At Rastegar Law Group, we not only have vast experience in working with the complexities of sexual harassment cases, we understand the sensitive nature of these claims and how emotionally draining it can be to go through this process. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the state of California, please schedule a free case evaluation with one of our employment attorneys today.
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