Sexual Harassment

San Diego Sexual Harassment Lawyers

Picture of Sexual HarassmentNo person should be subjected to sexual harassment. Unfortunately, sexual harassment is the most prevalent form of harassment employees experience in the workplace. When people go to work, they should feel comfortable and confident that their place of employment is a safe and welcoming environment and one where they can perform their job duties free from harassment.

To prevent workplace harassment, Congress passed Title VII and the California Legislature passed the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Both laws strictly prohibit sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

Under the Law, There Are Two Main Types of Sexual Harassment:

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is the type of harassment people are most familiar with. “Quid pro quo” is Latin meaning “this for that”. This form of sexual harassment involves a supervisor conditioning employee benefits, such as promotions, benefits or continuation of employment itself, on the employee’s acceptance of the supervisor’s harassing conduct or sexual advances.

Under California law, an employer is strictly liable for the sexual harassment of the supervisor and has no special legal defenses available to it. A victim of sexual harassment can recover lost wages, emotional distress damages, interest, and attorney’s fees. In cases where the employer’s officers, directors or managing agents knew of the harassment, punitive damages may be awarded as a means to punish or deter the employer.

Hostile work environment sexual harassment is the second main type of sexual harassment. This consists of harassing conduct that is so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile work environment for employees. Supervisors, co-workers, and even subordinates can engage in conduct that gives rise to a sexually hostile work environment. Harassing conduct can include sexual slurs, taunts, intimidation, ridicule, groping, grabbing, etc.

This type of harassment need not be both severe AND pervasive, but only severe OR pervasive. Therefore, a single instance of harassing conduct could create a hostile work environment if it is severe enough. Alternatively, a campaign of multiple acts of less severe harassment could collectively create a hostile work environment if pervasive enough. You may also have a claim even though you were not the direct target of the harassing conduct. For example, a woman who witnesses her female co-workers being groped and propositioned can bring a claim for hostile work environment sexual harassment.

An employer must take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring.  If harassment has occurred, the employer has a duty to take affirmative measures to change the offending individual’s behavior and to prevent others from similar unlawful conduct.  Reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring include affirmatively raising the issue of harassment; expressing strong disapproval of harassment; developing appropriate sanctions for harassment; informing employees of their rights and instructing them to report harassment, etc…

It is also an unlawful employment practice under FEHA to retaliate against anyone who has opposed sexual harassment or discrimination or has filed a complaint, testified or assisted in any proceeding under FEHA.  This means that employees are protected from retaliation if they complain about harassment or discrimination.

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment on the job, you may have the right to monetary compensation. The Gould Firm’s employment attorneys understand California’s employment laws and are here to help you get the benefits or compensation you may be entitled to. You can contact us through our online contact form or you can reach us at (619) 273-3431.