Neither your sex nor gender should have an effect on how you are treated or what opportunities you receive at work. Unfortunately, not all employers respect this basic tenet. Businesses that allow their employees to be mistreated because of sex or gender commit unlawful workplace sexual harassment. If you have endured workplace misconduct based on sex or gender, King & Siegel LLP can help you hold an offending employer accountable. Our top-rated Glendale sexual harassment attorneys are assertive and passionate about employee rights, and we are ready to provide expert advice in your time of need.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is unlawful, sex-based discrimination that is prohibited by both state and federal laws. Sexual harassment does not have to be motivated by a harasser’s sexual desire to be illegal; it just has to be based on someone’s sex or gender.
The law defines sexual harassment as unwelcome conduct based on sex or gender that occurs in one (or both) of the following ways:
- Quid pro quo harassment – meaning you have to endure unwanted, sex-based misconduct in order to keep your job, keep your work benefits, or advance professionally; and
- Hostile work environment harassment – which is unwelcome, sex-based behavior in your workplace that is so severe or pervasive that a reasonable person would call your work environment hostile.
Whether you are the target of sex-based misconduct or a negatively affected bystander, you have a right to initiate legal action against an employer or a harasser. As soon as you recognize sexual harassment in your workplace, speak to an experienced harassment lawyer to protect your rights and interests.
Types of Sexual Harassment at Work
Actionable sexual harassment can culminate in one extreme or quid pro quo event, or it can be actionable after a pattern of poor behavior from a harasser. Sexual harassment can include the following unwelcome conduct:
- Jokes about sex or gender,
- Insults based on sex or gender,
- Comments about physical appearance or body parts,
- Invasions of personal space,
- Touching without consent,
- Requests or demands for sexual interactions or favors,
- Making generalizations about sex or gender,
- Sexually explicit conversations or questioning,
- Displays of offensive, sex-based images,
- Exposure of intimate body parts, and
- Exclusion of others because of their sex or gender.
A harasser can be of the same sex or the opposite sex. A harasser can also be a supervisor, non-supervisor employee, client, contractor, or customer as long as the employer has control over the harasser’s actions.
Reporting Sexual Harassment
Making a workplace report of misconduct is an essential component of preserving your rights in a sexual harassment case. Reporting misconduct as soon as it happens can help you prove that any sex-based behavior in your complaint occurred and was unwanted. Contact a Glendale sexual harassment lawyer as soon you suspect mistreatment so your attorney can help you file a complaint that reasonably complies with your employer’s policies and procedures.
According to many employers’ policies, employees must report harassment and other forms of discrimination to a direct supervisor or human resources. But sometimes a direct supervisor is responsible for the harassment, and sometimes businesses do not have human resources departments. If there is no reasonable workplace complaint process in place, your lawyer might advise you to speak to a trusted supervisor about your concerns, or they might advise you to move on to filing a government complaint or a civil lawsuit. It is crucial to speak to a skilled attorney during every step of a sexual harassment complaint to give yourself the best chance of success.
Filing a Sexual Harassment Complaint
You have three options for seeking legal remedies for any sexual harassment you endure:
- A federal complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
- A state complaint with the Civil Rights Department of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), and
- A civil lawsuit in state or federal court.
You cannot file an EEOC sexual harassment complaint unless your employer has at least 15 employees, but you can file a DFEH complaint no matter how small your employer’s workforce is. If you want to file a civil lawsuit, you must wait to receive a notice from the EEOC or the DFEH that states that you have a right to sue.
You do not have much time to file a sexual harassment complaint, so you must move quickly to assert your rights. You have to file an EEOC complaint within 180 days, and you have to file a DFEH complaint within three years. However, an attorney can usually help you with your right to sue if you contact them within the statute of limitations.
Damages Available in a Sexual Harassment Case
The fallout for a victim of harassment can be ruinous and should be remedied by all wrongful actors. The potential for devastation after a victim endures harassment is why the law allows sexual harassment claimants to recover multiple types of damages. In a sexual harassment complaint, you can receive the following:
- Payment for your financial losses,
- Compensation for emotional harm you suffer,
- Court orders for your employer to change its practices,
- Reinstatement of lost job opportunities or benefits,
- Punitive damages to punish wrongful actors whose behavior was exceptionally poor, and
- Legal fees and costs.
How much you recover depends on the facts of your case and how well-prepared you are to adjudicate your complaint. Your best chance to recover everything you deserve after a traumatic work experience comes with hiring a good lawyer.
Let King & Siegel Help
At King & Siegel, our experienced Glendale sexual harassment attorneys have exceptional reputations, have received top ratings in the legal community, and have trained at top-five law schools. We are passionate about defending employees against employers that do not respect employee rights. By providing workers with the same aggressive and skilled representation big employers and businesses receive, we help make sure that wronged employees receive the best legal support. We supply the Glendale area with a complete array of employment law services, and we are ready to champion your rights. Talk to us about your options—and you only pay if we win. You can contact us on our website or call us to schedule a free consultation.