What to Do About Sexual Harassment in a Job Interview
| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sexual Harassment

Navigating the challenging terrain of job interviews can be daunting, especially when faced with sexual harassment. Understand your rights and how to combat this unacceptable behavior.

Key Takeaways

  • Sexual harassment during job interviews is illegal and constitutes gender discrimination.
  • Federal and state laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and FEHA, protect job applicants.
  • Victims can pursue claims for damages and should consider professional treatment for any trauma.
  • King & Siegel offer experienced legal support for sexual harassment claims.

Job interviews are stressful enough without worrying about being sexually harassed or propositioned, especially if you desperately need a job or truly want the position. We all invest a lot of ourselves in our work, and prize the opportunity to find a position where we are valued.

Some employers abuse job applicant’s economic needs and commitment to their career and use job interviews as opportunities to harass or proposition applicants. This can cause applicants to doubt their qualifications; to fear future interviews or experience PTSD; or to abandon their job search altogether.

King & Siegel’s experienced sexual harassment attorneys can help you bring a claim against the prospective employer who abused their economic position as an employer to exploit and demean you.

The Law Protects Job Applicants from Harassment 

Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. Both state and federal law protect job applicants from sexual harassment by prohibiting employers from discriminating against prospective employees based on their gender. This is because employers are in the driver’s seat and have superior economic power during the hiring process; without a fair hiring process, the workplace will be skewed in favor of those in advantaged groups. You should be considered for a position based on your merit and experience, not based on the boss’ attraction to you or your willingness to put up with their illegal behavior.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) both prohibit sexual harassment of job applicants. The EEOC, interpreting Title VII, defines sexual harassment to include unwelcome sexual advances, “quid pro quo” requests for sexual favors, as well as other conduct that is explicit or sexual and unwelcome.

You Don’t Have to Put Up With Sexual Harassment During a Job Interview

The hiring process is supposed to determine whether you have the skills and experience to do the job. Your employer should focus on questions that address these issues. They should not ask whether you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, whether you identify as heterosexual or homosexual, or other questions that may signal an employer’s sexual interest in you.

If you are denied a job because you refuse to tolerate sexual harassment during a job interview, you may have a claim for damages. You will want to provide an attorney with records of your subsequent attempts (if any) to obtain employment, as well as your qualifications for the position. You also should consider seeking professional treatment for any trauma suffered as a result of the interview at which you were harassed.

Discuss Your Sexual Harassment Claim with Award-Winning Employment Attorneys

If you have been subjected to sexual harassment during a job interview in California or New York, you should contact our compassionate, experienced sexual harassment attorneys. We understand how distressing this conduct can be and how challenging it can be to stand up to it.

We offer a free confidential consultation to help you understand the scope of your options. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or contact us online to set up an appointment.

Author Photo

Julian Burns King graduated with honors from Harvard Law School and founded King & Siegel in 2018. As head of the Firm’s discrimination and harassment practice areas, she champions the rights of working parents and victims of workplace discrimination and harassment. She has been recognized as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers annually since 2018 and has recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of her clients.

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