Sexual harassment in the workplace is humiliating, degrading, and, unfortunately, still too common in the workplace. It is extremely unlawful and incredibly inappropriate. There are laws that have been put into place, and as an employee in San Bernardino, California, you have rights. At Azadian Law Group, PC, our sexual harassment attorneys stand up for employees’ rights and will not stop until you get the maximum recovery you deserve.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The term “sexual harassment” refers to the unwanted sexual advances of another individual or physical, verbal, and/or visual conduct of an inappropriate sexual nature that creates an offensive, intimidating, and/or hostile work environment based on the sex of an employee.
Under the laws of California, sexual harassment, and the behaviors associated with it, do not need to be out of sexual desire. If the offensive actions are in response to an employee’s actual or perceived sex or gender identity, actual or perceived sexual orientation, sex-related medical conditions, pregnancy, or childbirth, they are still very much considered to be sexual harassment.
When talking about sexual harassment, it is important to remember that people of all sexes and genders can be harassed. It is far too common that the issue of sexual harassment is thought of as only affecting the female sex or women. No matter your sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation, you can be sexually harassed.
There are a lot of ways sexual harassment can appear in the workplace. Some are very blatant, but there are some that are not so obvious. Either way, all forms of sexual harassment are incredibly illegal and should not be taken lightly.
This type of harassment can occur blatantly or implicitly. This type of situation occurs when you are encouraged to do something for someone else in order to get something. In most cases, the offender demands sex or sexual acts before being granted a type of promotion or job advance. Other times, if a sexual advance is denied, the offender uses their position to retaliate against the employee. Usually, this retaliation is done by taking away job duties or working shifts. This type of harassment is most often seen in superior-to-employee relationships, but it’s not uncommon for it to occur employee to employee as well.
Examples of quid pro quo coercion in the workplace include:
You’re closing up your shift at the local restaurant. As you’re mopping the floor, your manager approaches and tries to make sexual advances. You decline, but when you check your schedule the next day, all of your shifts have been transferred to another employee.
Physical sexual harassment doesn’t have to exclusively include touching. Physical sexual harassment involves any type of harassment that you would instigate with your body. For example, unwanted obscene gestures can be designated as sexual harassment. Other, more overt forms of physical sexual harassment include unwanted touching or pulling, sexual assault, rape, or unwanted sexual advances.
Additional examples of physical harassment include:
Visual harassment typically occurs when one person exposes themselves to another without their consent, both in person or through photographs. Other forms of visual harassment include:
Under California law, you do not have to be the individual who was physically harassed to be the victim of sexual harassment. If you witnessed harassment at work, it can count as visual harassment. If sexual advances occurred in your presence, or lewd images were placed in an area you could view them (even if they weren’t intended for you), we still want to fight for the settlement you deserve.
Many employees don’t realize that sexual harassment doesn’t have to be a physical interaction. Verbal harassment and abuse can be just as harmful as sexual. Verbal abuse can be mentally and emotionally damaging and cause the victim psychological harm. If a victim’s workplace becomes a psychologically unsafe environment, they may miss work to avoid the situation, resulting in lost wages, ineligibility for promotions, and potential termination of employment. Examples of being sexually harassed verbally are:
Gender and/or sex discrimination is also a form of sexual harassment. It occurs when you, or another individual, are being treated unequally in comparison to your peers because of your sex, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation. You can also be discriminated against because of the sex, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation of a partner, person you are affiliated with, or organization that you are affiliated with.
Like most forms of sexual harassment and discrimination, gender discrimination is not always obvious. Many people are implicitly discriminated against, meaning that they receive more disciplinary actions, including performance improvement plans and verbal coaching sessions, because of their sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Sometimes it is hard to tell if that is specifically why you are being treated this way, but if you have any suspicion that you are experiencing gender discrimination in the workplace, you should begin to collect evidence right away. Evidence of gender discrimination, including any disciplinary forms, will make it hard to deny your case.
It depends on your situation. There are times when you won’t have to worry about collecting evidence, for example, if someone sends you explicit photographs or emails. In other instances, it can become a he-said, she-said type of situation. If you ever feel that you have been harassed or violated, make sure that you are keeping a detailed record of the evidence, even if that means complaints to your employer’s Human Resources (HR) department.
There are an increasing number of individuals who are speaking up and taking a stand against workplace sexual harassment. First, you should inform your employer and your HR department, if applicable, of the harassment. Second, file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). If it continues, or you are retaliated against for making a report, it’s time to contact a San Bernardino sexual harassment attorney.
In the state of California, the statute of limitations for sexual harassment is one year from the date of the last incident of sexual harassment. If you choose to file your complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) instead of DFEH, you’ll have six months from the time of the incident.
You won’t always be able to stop sexual harassment from happening, so it’s essential that both employers and employees state measures to prevent sexual harassment at work. This is always established with a firmly written and clearly posted California sexual harassment policy. Employees should also be educated on sexual harassment, and if anyone makes a complaint, a thorough investigation should take place.
If you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, it can be frightening and embarrassing. However, you have the right to be safe and free from intimidation at work. Let us fight for you. The San Bernardino harassment attorneys at the Azadian Law Group, PC want to represent you, and make sure you receive the settlement you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation today.