We understand that experiencing workplace sexual harassment may leave you feeling defeated, threatened, or confused. You may not know where to turn. The good news is that you are not alone. In 2021, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 5,581 sexual harassment complaints. The other good news is that there is someone to help you. The Santa Clarita sexual harassment lawyers at King & Siegel LLP have guided clients through the legal process hundreds of times. We will help you stand up against unlawful business practices and hold employers accountable for the harm you endured. Contact us today.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is a form of employment discrimination prohibited under state and federal law. Sexual harassment takes many forms, including unwanted sexual approaches, demands for sexual favors, and other sexual verbal or physical harassment. Comments about a person’s sex can constitute sexual harassment even if the harasser is not sexually motivated, like disrespectful comments toward women. Sexual harassment can occur regardless of the harasser’s gender and sexual orientation.
Two Types of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Not all offensive conduct is harassment. The law does not address mild taunting, casual remarks, or isolated incidents that are not severe. Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile work environment or leads to an unfavorable employment decision (like being fired or demoted). Thus, there are two main types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment.
Quid Pro Quo Harassment
Quid pro quo (“this for that”) harassment is the most recognizable form of sexual harassment in the workplace. This type of harassment occurs when a manager or supervisor demands sexual favors in exchange for conditions on a term of employment. The condition may be positive or negative, such as:
- Providing a particular shift, raise, or promotion;
- Threatening to transfer or terminate the worker;
- Promising a job; or
- Blackmailing the employee.
In quid pro quo harassment, an employer uses their authority in the workplace for sexual gratification. Unfortunately, if you experience this sexual exploitation, others at your workplace may also have experienced it. Bringing a complaint can stop ongoing abuse.
Hostile Work Environment Harassment
This type of harassment occurs when unwelcome conduct makes the workplace atmosphere intimidating, hostile, or offensive. The harassment must be so frequent or severe as to offend a reasonable person. It is also unlawful harassment if the conduct unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance. Whenever someone makes sexual comments to demean and intimidate in the workplace, it is sexual harassment. Examples of unlawful conduct include:
- Offensive jokes, epithets, slurs, or name-calling;
- Physical violence, threats, or intimidation;
- Mocking or ridicule;
- Insults or put-downs; and
- Offensive images or objects.
Anyone affected by the harassment may have a claim in hostile work situations. The person whom the harasser directly targeted is not the only victim—others in the workplace are also affected by the offensive conduct. Although not limited to these situations, hostile workplace harassment is common in male-dominated fields. Of all the sexual harassment complaints filed with the EEOC in 2021, only 16.3% were filed by men.
Who Is Responsible for Workplace Sexual Harassment?
California law requires all employers to “take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring.” Reasonable steps include providing anti-harassment training, having a harassment prevention policy, and responding promptly to complaints. The law makes employers responsible for harassment perpetrated by supervisors that results in a negative employment action, such as termination. Employers may be liable for harassment by other workers and even non-employees—including suppliers, clients, or customers—if they knew or should have known and failed to take immediate and appropriate action. An employee is always personally liable for harassment they inflict, regardless of the employer’s knowledge.
How Our Santa Clarita Sexual Harassment Attorneys Will Handle Your Complaint
When you schedule your free consultation, an attorney will listen to your concerns. We will explain how your situation fits within California’s employment laws and explain your options. If what happened to you qualifies as discrimination, we will handle the process of filing with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the EEOC. These agencies investigate and compile discrimination complaints to ensure claim validity and identify widespread discriminatory employment practices.
Once the agency sends your “right-to-sue” notice, you and your attorney can file a civil lawsuit against the harasser and your employer. A civil lawsuit allows you to recover monetary damages, including damages for emotional distress. In egregious cases, you may be able to recover punitive damages and attorney’s fees.
Next, we will handle the process of collecting evidence to support your story. We will ask you for any documentation of the harassment, like notes, emails, and the names of witnesses. While contemporaneous documentation is important, remember that California law requires both parties to consent to being recorded. We will speak with your employer to find out what they know about the harassment and their harassment policies. We will depose the harasser and any other supervisors involved.
When employers receive notice of a complaint, they will sometimes contact their insurance company to offer a settlement. Before you accept a settlement offer, your attorney will counsel you on your options. It may be in your best interest to take your case to trial, especially if your employer denies responsibility. Our attorneys will fight for your rights until you reach the resolution you deserve.
King & Siegel LLP: Santa Clarita Sexual Harassment Attorneys Fighting for Justice
Santa Clarita offers a wide range of employment, from aerospace and defense to digital and entertainment. Regardless of your industry, every person deserves a workplace free of harassment. Our Santa Clarita sexual harassment attorneys will help you understand your rights and how you can hold employers accountable. Our attorneys dedicate themselves to supporting Santa Clarita’s workers through traumatic and challenging times. We value your concerns about your professional or personal reputation while reliving embarrassing and offensive incidents. Our team of aggressive, skilled, and passionate attorneys works tirelessly to achieve your goals, including recovering financially and obtaining justice. If you feel you’ve been taken advantage of or harassed at work, reach out to our employment law professionals. We will meet with you to review your options as soon as possible.