Almost no American is immune from workplace sexual harassment. Studies have shown that over 80% of American women and 43% of American men have reported experiencing some form of sexual abuse or workplace sexual harassment in their lifetime. While lewd comments and other verbal harassment were the most common form of abuse hurled at American workers, neither gender was spared the grim reality of being victims of groping, touching, and physical sexual violence. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), approximately 13,000 sex-based harassment claims are filed yearly for workplace misconduct. These statistics do not include state or local claims.
If you have been the victim of workplace harassment or abuse of any kind, contact the Hayward sexual harassment attorneys at King & Siegel LLP. We can help you learn about your rights and explain the merits of filing a lawsuit.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Definition of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that “explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment. “Affecting employment” can mean that it unreasonably interferes with your work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Targets of Sexual Harassment
Victims and harassers do not need to be of the opposite sex or gender identity for abuse to occur. And while harassment usually exploits a power differential in the relationship (such as that between a supervisor and a subordinate) between the parties, a harasser may also be a co-worker or an agent of the employer. The abuse is not required to take place in a male boss, female employee dynamic as is often shown in movies and TV shows for it to “count.”
Additionally, you may be a victim of sexual harassment even if you were not a direct target. This means that you can be a victim if you were adversely affected by the offensive conduct but were not harassed yourself. In fact, harassment does not need to be motivated by sexual desire at all. More often than not, it is motivated by a desire to control the employee.
If you are a victim, contact a member of our team of experienced Hayward sexual harassment lawyers. We can evaluate your claim and help you decide on the next steps.
What Are Common Types of Workplace Sexual Harassment?
There are two types of sexual harassment: “quid pro quo” harassment and hostile work environment.
Quid Pro Quo Harassment
“Quid pro quo” harassment occurs when someone states or implies that the terms or conditions of your employment depend upon submitting to unwanted sexual advances. Examples of this can include:
- Promising favorable working conditions in exchange for sexual favors;
- Requesting sex in exchange for a job offer; and
- Threatening termination if the employee does not submit to a supervisor’s sexual advances.
Sadly, it is easy to imagine other examples of quid pro quo harassment. In circumstances where someone wants something sexual in exchange for improved work conditions or to prevent worse conditions, you may be experiencing quid pro quo harassment.
Hostile Work Environment
A hostile work environment occurs when an employee is subjected to severe and pervasive unwanted and offensive behavior. This can include:
- Sexually based commentary, jokes, gestures, images, and other media;
- Graphic text messages, emails, or voicemails;
- Overhearing or being the victim of lewd comments about a person’s body;
- Graphic discussions of other workers’ sex lives or preferences;
- Nonconsensual physical contact like kissing, hugging, pinching, rubbing, patting, or any other kind of physical contact or attempted intimacy;
- Gender or sexual orientation-based slurs; and
- Gossip or sexual rumors about someone.
This is a non-exhaustive list of the types of conduct at work that can lead to a claim. If you have experienced inappropriate and offensive behavior at your job, do not hesitate to contact our experienced team of Hayward sexual harassment attorneys today.
How Long Do You Have To File Your Sexual Harassment Lawsuit?
Harassment cases are time-sensitive, which is part of why speaking with experienced Hayward sexual harassment lawyers as soon as possible is an important part of your recovery. In October 2019, California Governor Newsom signed legislation that gives employees who have experienced harassment more time to regain their personal and professional footing after the incidents. This law extended the statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit from one year to three years.
Process for Filing a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
To file a lawsuit for harassment, retaliation, or discrimination under California law, an employee needs to first file a charge with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) within three years of the date of the alleged violation. If DFEH decides not to pursue your case, then you are free to pursue their employer directly. In that case, an employee must receive a right-to-sue letter from the DFEH before filing a lawsuit. An employee can receive a right-to-sue by requesting one from the DFEH. After receiving the right to sue letter, an employee previously had one year to file their lawsuit. Under the new law, the amount of time a person has to file an initial charge with DFEH has been extended to three years after the alleged unlawful conduct.
How King & Siegel Can Help
At King & Siegel, our legal professionals understand that litigation is a new and daunting experience for most of our clients. Our Hayward sexual harassment attorneys are here to guide you through the process and to take the stress off you. Do not be afraid. We have walked clients through these experiences hundreds of times and have learned that preparation, planning, and clear and honest communication with our clients lead to the strongest results. This is why we strive to be approachable and easy to talk to so that we can help you navigate your lawsuit. We know how difficult it can feel to get back on track after sexual harassment, and we will fight for you every step of the way. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.