Sexual Harassment Attorneys Near You
Sexual harassment in a California workplace violates federal and state laws. It also creates a toxic work environment for employees and job applicants and can harm you physically and psychologically. Because of this, under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, if you’ve experienced harassment, you may have the right to sue your employer for damages.
The unjust and damaging effects of sexual harassment should never be ignored. California victims of sexual harassment at work need a law firm that understands the harm that a hostile work environment due to sexual harassment can cause. You deserve a trusted advocate who will fight for your rights and stand by your side from the start of your claim to the finish.
At King & Siegel LLP, our sexual harassment attorneys in California are not afraid to go toe-to-toe with your employer. We founded our firm on the premise that the same hard-hitting, skilled, and passionate litigation tactics employed in bigger, more expensive firms could and should be available to workers. Our clients trust us with personal and critical legal issues, and we do not take this responsibility lightly. We take your case personally and will never treat you like just a case file or number.
Our California workplace sexual harassment lawyers have won millions in sexual harassment settlements and verdicts and will fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation if you have been harassed, assaulted, or exploited in the workplace or by your employer.
Types of Sexual Harassment at Work
Sexual harassment affects employees and job applicants in the workplace. Both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment at work. Sexual harassment can occur between two men, two women, men and women, or several different people of the same or different sexes.
“Quid pro quo” harassment happens when someone conditions a term of employment on submitting to unwanted sexual advances. Some examples include:
- Promising shifts, a raise, or promotion if an employee sleeps with a manager;
- Threatening termination if an employee doesn’t sleep with a manager;
- Requesting sex in exchange for a job; and
- A boss saying will would make an employee’s life a nightmare if they don’t submit to their sexual advances.
A hostile work environment happens when an employee is subjected to unwanted and offensive behavior that is so pervasive or extreme that a reasonable person would call the employee’s workplace hostile. This can include:
- Sexually-based commentary, jokes, gestures, images, etc.;
- Receiving graphic text messages;
- Being shown pornography at work;
- Lewd comments about a person’s body;
- Graphic discussions of other workers’ sex lives or preferences;
- Kissing, hugging, pinching, rubbing, patting, or any touching without consent;
- Whistling, cat-calling, staring a person up and down;
- Physically blocking someone’s movement;
- Using gender or sexual orientation-based slurs; and
- Gossiping or spreading sexual rumors about someone.
These are a few examples of the types of conduct that can lead to a sexual harassment claim at work. If you have experienced inappropriate and offensive behavior at work, contact a hostile work environment lawyer today to learn more about filing a claim.
What counts as sexual harassment can depend on the circumstances of your workplace. To confidentially discuss your situation with an experienced workplace harassment attorney, call (213) 465-4802 today.
HOW SEXUAL HARASSMENT AFFECTS INDIVIDUALS IN THE WORKPLACE
Sexual harassment can be incredibly damaging to those who experience and witness it. Harassment can have the following health effects:
- Weight loss,
- Sexually transmitted infections (for survivors of assault),
- Sleep disorders,
- Physical ailments induced by stress,
- Weight gain,
- Lowered self-esteem, and
- Sexual dysfunction.
Sexual harassment can also have a significant and negative financial impact on you. Whether you are fired from your job, have to quit your job, have to take days off from work to address your trauma, or are punished with reduced job benefits, you could lose thousands upon thousands in the aftermath of a harassment incident. Also, the physical and mental health issues that harassment causes could mean increased healthcare expenses, for which your employer or harasser should be responsible.
Discuss with one of our sexual harassment attorneys every detail of your post-harassment experience. You have broad rights to compensation and legal relief in a sexual harassment claim, and the more details you give to one of our attorneys, the more we can help ensure that every negative effect you have experienced is appropriately addressed in an award or settlement.
CAN YOU BE COMPENSATED FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
Yes, you can. Whether you are a target of sexual harassment or a bystander who has been affected by sex-based misconduct in your workplace, you have the right to take legal action and seek compensation for your damages. One of our experienced sexual harassment attorneys can maximize your recovery in a successful claim.
STEPS TO TAKE AFTER EXPERIENCING SEXUAL HARASSMENT
There are multiple steps to properly initiating and maintaining a sexual harassment claim, and, unfortunately, many of these steps are challenging. This is particularly true when you are dealing with the stress and trauma of workplace harassment.
First, you should speak to a workplace sexual harassment lawyer about what you have faced. A lawyer can properly organize your case and respond in ways that can increase your chances of clinching the victory you deserve.
Immediately after the first incident of harassment, you will likely have to do the following:
- Document each occurrence in detail, including when it happened, what happened, and who witnessed it;
- Collect evidence of the harassment;
- Seek treatment (if necessary);
- Report the harassment to your employer;
- Report the harassment to the police if it involves criminal assault or stalking;
- Submit a complaint to the DFEH or the EEOC; and
- File a civil lawsuit (if your administrative complaint does not adequately cover your losses).
Harassment is understandably difficult to process, but you must act quickly to resolve a harassment case if you want all of your rights to be protected. By speaking to an attorney right away, you increase your chances of a full legal recovery and will have moral support throughout the process.
THE ROLE OF EMPLOYERS IN PREVENTING SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Legal liabilities aside, every employer has a moral obligation to take active steps to prevent sexual harassment in their workplace. If individuals in your workplace know that your employer takes harassment seriously and will punish harassers, they are less likely to engage in harassment in the first place. And when all employees in your workplace know that your employer is working to protect them from harassment, they are more likely to report harassment and support each other in harassment investigations.
An employer’s active steps to prevent harassment can include measures such as:
- Having a separate human resources department and multiple members of management responsible for accepting sexual harassment complaints,
- Holding regular meetings to educate employees and management about what sexual harassment is and the repercussions for the misconduct,
- Developing comprehensive reporting and complaint procedures for workplace sexual harassment claims, and
- Addressing and correcting harassment as soon as it is reported.
If your employer has these measures in place, and can complain to an impartial manager or HR representative, you should report harassment before turning to an administrative complaint or litigation. In some cases, federal law requires an employee to prove that they did not unreasonably fail to address or correct harassment by using their employer’s procedures.
If an employer has five employees or more, California law requires that employer to provide harassment prevention training to its workforce. This training must last at least an hour for non-supervisor employees and at least two hours for supervisors. And this training must occur at least every two years. Employers are required to include examples of gender expression, sexual orientation, and gender identity harassment in their training sessions. If your employer does not offer the training the law requires, your employer’s failure could mean additional compensation or legal relief for you if you were harassed because of your employer’s failure to train.
CAN YOU SUE SOMEONE FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
Yes. In a sexual harassment complaint, you usually will have the option of suing your harasser, your employer, or both. Many employees who have been harassed opt to sue their employer because employers are often more capable of paying all damages awarded in a civil lawsuit. But your employer’s obligation to pay for the harassment you have endured depends on the facts of your case.
An employer is automatically responsible for harassment committed by a supervisor that causes a negative employment action against the suing employee. But an employer may not be liable for harassment that occurs in its workplace if the following factors apply:
- The employer didn’t have authority over the harasser,
- The employer reasonably tried to stop or prevent the harassment, and
- The employee unreasonably failed to use the employer’s procedures for reporting or addressing harassment.
You must also follow the procedures for filing an administrative complaint through the state or federal government before you can start a lawsuit. These procedures vary depending on your jurisdiction, and a lawyer will be able to ensure you adhere to these requirements.
How to Report Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
If you are experiencing sexual harassment at work, first tell your employer. You can report sexual harassment to either a supervisor or a member of the Human Resources Department at your company. This person may be able to take actions that will end the harassment. This step will also help your case if you need to file a complaint or lawsuit because it shows that you attempted to handle the harassment in-house first.
If that does not solve the problem, you can file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”). California law requires you to take this step before filing a workplace harassment lawsuit.
After filing your claim, you’ll need to wait for the DFEH to issue a “right to sue” notice. California may issue a “right to sue” notice immediately or following the DFEH’s investigation of your complaint. Once the DFEH gives the notice, you and your attorney may file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages against the harasser and the employer, including damages for emotional distress. You may also be able to ask for punitive damages and attorney’s fees, depending on the circumstances of your case.
LAWS THAT PROTECT EMPLOYEES FROM SEXUAL HARASSMENT
If you are a federal worker or job applicant, federal and state laws protect can protect you from sexual harassment at work. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) protects employees in companies with 15 or more workers. Under Title VII, sexual harassment victims must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before filing a complaint in federal court.
California employees also have protection under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The benefit of this law is there’s no requirement for a company, agency or organization to have a minimum number of employees before you’re eligible to pursue a claim. California’s anti-sexual harassment law also provides broader protections than Title VII.
Statute of Limitations
DFEH complaints generally must be filed within three years of the date the harassment occurred. Similarly, you must file a civil lawsuit within one year of receiving a “right to sue” notice from the DFEH.
If you file a complaint with the EEOC, you typically have 300 days from the date of alleged harm to file a charge against an employer with 15 or more employees. However, federal employees must initiate the complaint process within 45 days. And charges against employers of less than 15 must be filed within 365 days with the DFEH in the State of California.
Should you miss the filing deadline, there may be other options. Thanks to California AB 1619, sexual assault victims have additional time to file. AB 1619 was passed in response to the #MeToo movement and extended the filing deadline for sexual assault survivors to 10 years after the last episode of abuse. If a victim discovers an injury linked to the abuse, they have three years from the date of discovery to file. Calculating all the deadlines in a sexual harassment case is crucial. Should you miss the deadlines, the courts will likely dismiss your case, and you will be barred from recovery.
How to Calculate Compensation
An employee who experiences sexual harassment in the workplace may recover damages under California law. Damages can include economic, noneconomic, and punitive damages in certain circumstances. Economic damages include lost past wages and lost future wages.
Your claimed damages might include other benefits you lost out on, such as vacation pay, healthcare and retirement benefits, and more.
Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering and emotional distress. Emotional distress encompasses several types of emotional harm, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, and more.
Courts also have the discretion to grant non-monetary remedies too. A judge might demand your employer reinstate your employment or require the company to change its policies and procedures.
In some cases, you might receive punitive damages. Punitive damages can be awarded in cases where your employer made no effort to safeguard your rights. That means you need evidence your employer was the perpetrator or knew of the behavior and did nothing to stop it.
In California, a court will calculate the amount of damages it awards based on several factors, including:
- The harasser’s position relative to the victim,
- The level of hostility victim encountered,
- How many workers the company employs,
- The type and frequency of sexual harassment encountered,
- Whether the company took action to correct the problem, and
- Whether the conduct singled out one victim.
According to EEOC data, the average out-of-court settlement for employment discrimination claims is about $40,000. But each case is unique, so don’t assume that is what your case will be worth. Talk to a lawyer to get a valid estimate of what your case might be worth.
HOW MUCH COMPENSATION CAN YOU SUE FOR IN A SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASE?
The EEOC reports that in recent cases, discrimination complainants have recovered between approximately $100,000 and $3 million for suffering unfair treatment in the workplace. But the amount you can sue for in a harassment complaint depends on the details of your claim, the quality of your evidence, and the quality of your representation. We can provide you with top-of-the-line representation and help you win the maximum amount of damages available in your case.
Information you can use to prove your claim and the amount of your damages includes the following:
- Wage records,
- Medical records,
- Witness testimony (including your own),
- Copies of written correspondence with your employer or harasser,
- Documents regarding your employer’s history of sexual harassment,
- Employment contracts,
- Financial statements,
- Employment history records,
- Employer policies,
- Records of your education history,
- Copies of complaint records,
- Property records, and
Some of this evidence is relatively easy to collect on your own and should be collected as soon as you notice harassment in your workplace. However, you will likely need attorney help to access all evidence that is essential to proving your claim.
FAQ: Sexual Harassment at Work
Is Retaliation Illegal?
First, you should know that your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you for reporting sexual harassment.
Retaliation in the workplace is unlawful discrimination. Examples of retaliation include your employer doing one of the following to punish you for reporting its unlawful behavior:
- Firing you,
- Demoting you,
- Reducing your benefits,
- Transferring you to a different job,
- Reducing your overall pay,
- Reducing your overall hours,
- Reassigning you to a different shift, or
- Asking you to take time off without pay.
Your employer’s policies probably require or encourage you to report harrassment. That aside, it’s a good idea to report harassment- if you are comfortable doing it.
Reporting sexual harassment will mean there is a record of your complaint. It also shows the employer had notice of the problem and will trigger the employer’s duty to investigate and respond appropriately. If you are worried about talking to HR or management, you can call us to speak confidentially with a top–notch sexual harassment lawyer about your options.
You have protection from retaliation through various California Labor Code sections. You must report the retaliation to assert your rights, though. You should also contact us right away. We can help you pursue a lawsuit against your company for retaliation, which could provide you with some compensation and possibly restore your job and benefits.
What if I am Not Comfortable Reporting the Harassment?
Some situations are so fraught, and some companies are so indifferent or disorganized, that there is no real option of reporting harassment. Maybe you are being harassed by someone so high up at the company that you have no faith anyone will listen. Maybe there are no formal procedures for reporting harassment, and you don’t know who to talk to.
We understand. The internal complaint process is not supposed to be a “gotcha” or a trap for the complainant. It’s supposed to help fix the problem. But if you have no faith the company will respond appropriately, you should talk to an experienced sexual harassment attorney and learn how to document the harassment and raise internal concerns to best protect your claims. We can help you stand up to your employer in this situation.
What Happens After You Report Sexual Harassment?
Your employer is required to conduct a prompt, full, and fair investigation. It must put a stop to the harassment and should appropriately discipline the harasser if wrongdoing is found. Your employer should not punish you for making a complaint. This means you shouldn’t be put off work without pay, pending an investigation. You shouldn’t be transferred to an inconvenient worksite or forced to take a different work schedule to avoid your harasser. This is retaliation, and it is illegal.
Can I Record the Harassment?
You should always document harassment as soon as possible after it happens – whether in personal notes, emails to coworkers or supervisors, a note taking app, etc. Having contemporaneous documentation is always best because memories are imperfect, particularly when you are in a traumatic situation.
Often, our clients ask whether they can record their harassers. You should know that California law requires consent from all parties to record a confidential conversation. If there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, the law prevents you from recording your harasser.
Passionate & Talented Legal Professionals in Your Corner
At King & Siegel LLP, we understand that sexual harassment cases are complicated and stressful because clients are forced to revisit a traumatizing event throughout their case. Our compassionate lawyers empathize with the difficult position our clients are put in if they want to pursue justice for sexual harassment, which is why we are committed to using our full resources and extensive knowledge of the law to fight for them.
- The Equal Pay Act,
- Medical & Disability Leave,
- Stock Disputes,
- Wrongful Termination,
- Wage & Hour Violations, and
- Workplace Retaliation.
If you or a loved one has experienced sexual harassment or another employment law violation, contact us today to speak to an experienced, compassionate sexual harassment attorney. We offer a free 30-minute case evaluation and work on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay us unless you win.