Learn More About California Sexual Harassment Laws

Sexual harassment is a major issue in the United States, including here in California. Only two years ago, the #MeToo Movement shed light on how workers in our state and across the country suffer from sexual harassment in the workplace. Issues involving workplace sexual harassment continue to affect workers.

However, it is important to understand that you need not suffer in silence. You have federal and state rights that protect you from sexual harassment. Below, our sexual harassment attorney in San Diego discusses what to know about your potential legal options and rights.

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Workplace sexual harassment involves unwelcome sexual conduct directed at workers, interns or job applicants. There are two types of sexual harassment:

  1. Quid pro quo: Quid pro quo is Latin for “something for something”. In the context of sexual harassment, it may occur when a worker or supervisor offers a colleague some type of benefit in exchange for sexual favors. For instance, a supervisor may offer a promotion in exchange for sexual favors. Quid pro quo sexual harassment may also involve threats. In this case, a supervisor may threaten an employee’s job if he or she does not perform or continue to perform sexual favors.
  2. Hostile workplace sexual harassment: This type of sexual harassment may occur when sexual comments or actions are severe and pervasive enough to alter the conditions of a worker’s employment. For instance, the comments or actions may have an extremely negative effect on your job or the jobs of coworkers.

The types of sexual harassment listed above are not necessarily mutually exclusive. It is also important to remember that sexual harassment can have negative effects on the person or people targeted as well as other employees in the workplace.

What Are Examples of Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Workplace sexual harassment can take many forms and may target a person based on his or her gender. Whether it qualifies as sexual harassment depends on the circumstances.

In some cases, sexual harassment involves unwanted physical contact. However, sexual harassment can also include digital communications and unwanted verbal comments. Examples of workplace sexual harassment may include:

  • Unwanted physical contact
  • Sexually explicit comments, jokes or slurs
  • Offering a promotion in exchange for sexual favors
  • Demoting a worker for failing to perform sexual favors

These are only a few examples of what can constitute sexual harassment in California. If you feel you are experiencing sexual harassment and have questions about whether your situation qualifies as sexual harassment under state or federal law, then you should speak with a California employment law attorney.

You should also speak with an attorney if you believe reporting sexual harassment led to wrongful termination.

Who Can Commit Workplace Sexual Harassment?

There are various parties that may be guilty of sexual harassment. Instigators of sexual harassment may include:

  • Supervisors
  • Coworkers
  • Third-parties (Vendors, clients, independent contractors or workers with another company)
  • Customers

Depending on the circumstances, you may have a claim against your employer if they failed to resolve sexual harassment from a third party.

How Can Workers Fight Workplace Sexual Harassment?

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 can hold employers responsible for engaging in or failing to correct instances of sexual harassment. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may investigate sexual harassment complaints. You would need to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

You do not necessarily have to be an employee to file a sexual harassment complaint. For instance, you may be able to file a claim against a potential employer or if you are providing services in a workplace setting under a contract or internship. An employment law attorney with experience handling sexual harassment claims can help you determine if you have a valid claim.

There is a statute of limitations for filing a sexual harassment complaint in California, so you should not wait to speak with an attorney. If you wait too long, you may be unable to seek compensation. A recent state law extended the statute of limitations for California sexual harassment complaints.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing may conclude, after an investigation, that you can file a lawsuit against your employer. You may be able to recover compensation for damages through a lawsuit. This option is especially helpful if you are a victim of wrongful termination or demotion. Compensation from a sexual harassment lawsuit may include:

  • Back pay (wages, bonuses, pension benefits that you lost)
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Damages caused by a loss of reputation
  • Front pay (future wage losses)

For many workers, it is not uncommon to suffer lost wages and benefits as well as damage to their reputations. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you speak with an attorney about your legal options for pursuing a claim.

About Our Sexual Harassment Attorney in San Diego, CA

Evan Gould is a sexual harassment attorney in San Diego with extensive experience handling sexual harassment claims. As an experienced attorney, he also offers sexual harassment training for employers. You can read more about our experience with sexual harassment claims on our website.

The Gould Firm offers free consultations. It will not cost you money to contact us and speak with Evan about your situation. You can contact us by dialing (619) 273-3431 or by using the contact form on our site. For future blog updates, we encourage you to like us on Facebook.