Do you work in an environment that makes you feel unsafe or exploited because of your sex, sexuality, gender, or gender expression? If you feel unsafe at work because of sex or gender, your employer might be liable for workplace sexual harassment.
State and federal laws can protect you from harassment and ensure that your employer and harasser remedy the harm they have caused you. If you want to receive maximum protection and maximum relief in a sexual harassment case, speak to one of our San Francisco sexual harassment attorneys at King & Siegel LLP. We combine skill, aggressive representation, and compassionate counsel to help employees who have been unlawfully disrespected by their employers.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Is Still a Problem
Even in modern times, unlawful sexual harassment runs rampant across this nation. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that in 2019, 38% of women and 14% of men reported experiencing sexual harassment at work. Many individuals in the workforce have been victims of unlawful sexual misconduct while on the job, but the types of sexual harassment they have experienced vary greatly.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Workplace sexual harassment is illegal under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). If you are having trouble identifying whether the mistreatment you have experienced at work is sexual harassment, let’s take a look at how the law defines sexual harassment and how it can occur on the job.
Under the law, sexual harassment is unwelcome, sex-based conduct that takes one of the following forms:
- Quid pro quo harassment—this occurs when an employee is required to accept unwanted sexual advances in exchange for work benefits; and
- Hostile work environment harassment—this occurs when sex-based conduct from a harasser is so extreme or pervasive that a reasonable person would call the employee’s workplace a hostile environment.
An employee does not have to be the target of sex-based misconduct to have a right to complain. Sex-based harassment at a place of employment can make everyone feel unsafe, and even employees who are bystanders can have standing to sue. Our experienced San Francisco sexual harassment lawyers have received top-level training to provide the best protection to mistreated employees in California.
Sexual Harassment Examples
Despite what you may have heard, sexual harassment does not have to be motivated by sexual desire to be illegal. There are many sex-based behaviors that are actionable harassment under the law, including:
- Offensive jokes,
- Promises of work benefits for sexual favors,
- Unwanted requests for romantic encounters,
- Displays of offensive sex-based images,
- Non-consensual touching,
- Following employees too closely,
- Threats of punishment if an employee refuses a sexual advance,
- Stereotyping comments about sex or gender,
- Offensive gestures,
- Explicit comments about sexual activity,
- Excluding groups of people because of their gender or sex, and
- Other sex-based discrimination.
Victims of sexual harassment can file legal complaints or lawsuits against their employers and harassers to recover financial damages and other relief. If you sense sexual harassment at your work, you should immediately speak to one of our skilled attorneys to help ensure that you are properly protected from its harmful effects.
Filing a Legal Complaint
There are several avenues to legal relief for victims of sexual harassment. A sexual harassment victim can seek remedies from their employer and harasser by doing the following:
- Filing a sexual harassment charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
- Filing a civil lawsuit in federal court,
- Filing a sexual harassment complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), or
- Filing a civil lawsuit in state court.
If you choose to sue, you must first initiate a legal action with the EEOC or DFEH to receive notice from either agency that you have a right to sue in court. Our skilled San Francisco sexual harassment attorneys can expedite your receipt of a notice about your right to sue.
In a government complaint or civil lawsuit, you have the opportunity to win several remedies, including:
- Economic damages to compensate you for any financial losses related to the harassment,
- Non-economic damages to pay you for any emotional harm you suffered because of the mistreatment,
- Job or benefit reinstatement for any punishment you endured because of your sex or gender,
- Policy changes at work to address your employer’s or harasser’s misconduct,
- Punitive damages to punish your employer or harasser if their behavior was particularly abhorrent, and
- Legal costs to cover complaint-related legal expenses such as attorney fees and expert witness fees.
Even if your employer admits to a legal violation and agrees to settle, it may try to undermine the value of your case. Having the aggressive representation we provide at King & Siegel is crucial to helping you recover the maximum amount of relief.
Time Limits for Taking Legal Action
You have 180 days to file a discrimination charge with the EEOC, and you have three years to file a complaint with the DFEH. Also, only employers with 15 or more employees are subject to Title VII, but employers of any size are subject to sexual harassment claims under FEHA.
The best course of action for your legal claim depends on the specific details of your case. Our knowledgeable lawyers can guide you through the legal process, identify the best strategy for your circumstances and needs, and take timely legal steps to recover what you deserve.
King & Siegel Can Help
When an employer betrays you, you need a good advocate in your corner. We provide top-notch advocacy and counsel at King & Siegel. Our lawyers were educated at top-five law schools and trained at the best firms in the nation. Now, we have come together to provide award-winning representation to employees in the Bay Area. We know how to safeguard your rights.
If your employer has mistreated you, don’t be afraid to ask for help. We want to hear your story. You can call us or contact us online for a free consultation. You pay only if we win.
Our experienced legal team also handles other types of employment law cases, including cases surrounding:
- The Equal Pay Act,
- Medical & Disability Leave,
- Stock Disputes,
- Wrongful Termination,
- Wage & Hour Violations, and
- Workplace Retaliation.