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An employer has the duty to prevent sexual harassment in its workplace. If an employer cannot fulfill this obligation, it is time to hold them accountable. So, what is sexual harassment, and how can you protect yourself against it? Read on for more information and speak to one of our skilled Palo Alto sexual harassment attorneys at King & Siegel LLP about your rights. We have an exceptional reputation among our peers and clients, and we can help safeguard you from the misdeeds of a negligent or unethical employer. 

The Definition of Sexual Harassment

Workplace sexual harassment is illegal under state and federal law. The law defines sexual harassment as unwanted, sex-based conduct that comes in the following two forms:

  • Quid pro quo harassment—this type of harassment takes place when an employer requires an employee to accept unwanted sexual advances or other sex-based behavior in exchange for work benefits. 
  • Hostile work environment harassment—this type of harassment takes place when sex-based behavior in the workplace is so severe or prevalent that a reasonable person would consider the harassment victim’s workplace an abusive or hostile environment. 

Don’t let the term “sex-based” throw you off. Sexual desire does not have to be at the root of harassment for the behavior to be unlawful. Sexual harassment only has to be based on someone’s sex or gender to be actionable. 

Also, you do not have to be the target of sex-based misconduct to make a harassment claim. Sex-based discrimination can affect everyone in the workplace, and witnesses of harassment have a right to complain about it. 

What Does Sexual Harassment Look Like?

While the law has only two definitions for sexual harassment, those two forms of misconduct can pop up in many ways in a work setting. Examples of workplace sexual harassment include the following:  

  • Non-consensual touching, 
  • Slurs,
  • Excluding others based on sex or gender,
  • Comments about body parts or appearance, 
  • Offensive jokes,
  • Stereotyping based on gender or sex,
  • Invasions of privacy,
  • Repeated requests for sexual encounters (or a single request if the requestor is in management),
  • Name-calling,
  • Insults based on sex or gender, 
  • Exposure of intimate body parts, and 
  • Sexually explicit conversation. 

The list above is not exhaustive, and you should speak to one of our experienced attorneys about whatever type of mistreatment you have experienced at work. 

I don't have words to thank you the king and Siegel team worked so hard on my case during the pandemic and I am so grateful and proud of my outcome with them. They are reasonable and reliable. Those you can trust .. everytime I had a question they would answer it I recommend them 100 percent.. am so thankful for the team .. my worries and stress are over .. a huge weight over my shoulder was lifted and was able to help my family during this hard time thank you so much king and Siegel team..
Vanessa Ponce
Vanessa Ponce
March 8, 2022
I was really nervous about hiring a lawyer but Julian and everyone in her office made the process as stress-free as it could be. She is kind, reassuring and confident and that helps make the process feel less scary. she also knows what kinds of outcomes are reasonable and will explain in detail why, and has a plan to get there. I cannot recommend her more highly.
Ines Martinez
Ines Martinez
March 8, 2022
I had the pleasure of being represented by this wonderful office and their attorneys! They were very quick about answering any questions and most times explained things so well that my questions were answered before I got the chance to ask them. I had an amazing experience, everyone is kind and very attentive to your wants and needs. A case can be very stressful and they did a great job at keeping me sane and comfortable through the entire process. I recommend them 100%.
Adrianna Sells
Adrianna Sells
October 25, 2021
This in an incredibly professional and responsive firm. There was an ease about getting initial information, scheduling, and working with their talented team. While I found it to be true of everyone that I encountered here, it was Julian Burns King that really went above and beyond. Her expertise, experience, and knowledge of employment law and its many facets coupled with her empathy and compassion for her clients, is truly one of a kind. I would absolutely recommend King & Siegel to anyone in need of legal advice or representation.
Jeri Mares
Jeri Mares
October 12, 2021
Everyone at this firm was so helpful, supportive, and nice. The settlement I got changed my life and working with them was as good as a lawsuit could possibly be. I am so glad I found them for my wrongful termination suit.
Evelyn A
Evelyn A
September 25, 2021
I’m glad I trusted the team of King & Seigel to handle my case they are the definition of professionalism. They were honest and very upfront with the process and kept me informed every step of the way not to mention I’m more than happy with the results. Thank you again to the team of King and Seigel.
Ramon Rodriguez
Ramon Rodriguez
December 9, 2020
Julian & Elliot are very good lawyers and I am glad I trusted them with my case. When I hired attorneys, I didn't know what to look for, but I am glad I found them. They were always attentive to my case and I never felt lost even though I did not have any prior experience with litigation. Ultimately, they got a result I was happy with and I am so glad I had them to help me put this experience behind me. You would be lucky to have them in your corner.
Ryan J
Ryan J
August 5, 2020
I would like to thank this amazing duo and their staff for taking care of my friend and I. They were patient and polite, very prompt, and always professional! Thank you all so much! 💜
Yanni Boo
Yanni Boo
July 15, 2020

What Are My Rights If I Have Been Sexually Harassed? 

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, an employee who endures harassment has a right to several legal remedies. In a legal action or settlement, a harassment victim can recover the following relief:

  • Back pay,
  • Front pay,
  • Job reinstatement or promotion to a new position, 
  • Compensation for emotional distress, 
  • Reimbursement for financial losses, 
  • Policy changes at work,
  • Benefit reinstatement, 
  • A pay increase,
  • Punitive damages, and
  • Legal costs.

You deserve to be compensated and protected after suffering unlawful treatment at work. Consulting with an attorney can help ensure you receive the most relief for what you have endured. 

Who Is Liable for Sexual Harassment?

First, your harasser is personally liable for the mistreatment you experience. 

Second, the employer is automatically liable for harassment that comes from a supervisor. 

Finally, employer is also liable for harassment from non-employees and non-supervisory employees over whom it has control if the following is true:

  • The harassment victim did not unreasonably fail to use the employer’s procedures to address the harassment; and 
  • The employer failed to respond properly to the harassment. 

Talk to an attorney as soon as you sense sex-based misconduct in your workplace. You will likely need to file an internal complaint to maintain your harassment claim, and your attorney can protect your interests and help make sure you file your complaint properly.   

Filing a Sexual Harassment Claim

You can initiate a sexual harassment claim against your employer or harasser in one of the three following ways:

You can file an EEOC charge if your employer has at least 15 employees. But you can file a sexual harassment complaint with the DFEH no matter the size of your employer’s workforce. Also, you have 180 days to file an EEOC charge (or 300 days if your complaint is covered by state law) and three years to submit a DFEH complaint. Because California law is generally more favorable to employees complaining of harassment, most attorneys will recommend that you file with the DFEH if you work in California. You must first complain to the EEOC or DFEH before you can sue in court. 

Being exposed to sexual harassment can be stressful, and litigating harassment claims can be traumatizing if handled improperly. Our skilled Palo Alto sexual harassment attorneys at King & Siegel can handle the stresses and complexities of your sexual harassment complaint while you take the space you need to recover from workplace mistreatment. 

Speak to Our Legal Team Today

When you speak to one of our experienced Palo Alto sexual harassment lawyers at King & Siegel, you will speak to someone who has received the best training in the nation and top ratings from the legal community. Our attorneys were educated at top law schools and trained at the biggest and best firms. We are dedicated to using our skills and stellar reputation to protect the rights of workers across California. 

At King & Siegel, we make sure we give our clients the personalized attention they deserve. We focus on each client’s unique needs so we can recover the type of relief necessary for their circumstances. If you are looking for an attorney who cares about your story and can fiercely and successfully champion your rights, talk to us. Whether you are experiencing sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, wage & hour issues, a toxic work environment, founder disputes, or any other unfair work practices, contact us online or call us to schedule a free consultation. And if you hire us, you do not pay unless we win. 

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