Do NOT Tolerate Sexual Harassment!
“Nice suit Mark, it really shows off your assets.”
“Oh, great, is it that time of the month Carol?”
This sounds like high school, and unfortunately we hear too many cases of this going on at work! Sexual harassment in the workplace is one of the most complicated as well as most publicized areas of employment law. Sexual harassment destroys lives and businesses. It is not uncommon to experience other violations coupled with sexual harassment, such as workplace retaliation and other forms of discrimination. In California, sexual harassment violations are sometimes just the “tip of the iceberg,” and employees should consider what other labor law violations may be occurring.
Sexual Harassment Laws; California and Federal: While the principles apply to both, there may be some basic differences that are fact intensive and certain principles may not apply to each individual case. The damages awarded under state and federal laws may vary dramatically.
Types of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: There are two commonly recognized types of sexual harassment; “quid-pro-quo” and “hostile work environment.” Typically though, these violations go hand in hand.
- Quid-Pro-Quo Harassment: “this for that.” In other words, a trade involved, and when one part of the trade is based on sex, then this is a violation of the law; if your “boss” offers you a job, a promotion or a pay increase in exchange for sex. The converse of the above situation is also common; if a superior threatens to fire or demote you unless you comply with requests for sex.
- Hostile Work Environment: If your employer, supervisor, or co-employee says or does something to make you feel a sense of discomfort because of your sex. It is not necessary that a demand for sex be made for there to be a hostile work environment.
- Offensive Conduct: In order to qualify as a hostile work environment, the actions must be “offensive.” Jokes that offend one party or another may be considered offensive conduct. On the other hand, if two employees date consensually in the workplace, a hostile work environment is not created. However, if one employee wanted to break off the relationship and the other used, for example, his or her supervisor status to further the relationship, then this may be considered sexual harassment.Other examples of violations of the California harassment laws are: sexual oriented jokes, sexual oriented pictures, unwanted touching, leering, and unwanted requests for a date. Under both federal law and California law, sexual harassment may occur between two people of the same sex or when a woman harasses a man.
Our team of experienced lawyers can determine if your employer has violated the law. It is important to talk to a lawyer if you feel you have experienced workplace sexual harassment as soon as possible to help preserve evidence. Call today for a free and confidential consultation.