Sexual harassment in the workplace is against the law in California and is viewed as a form of sex discrimination. Sexual harassment in the workplace refers to behavior such as unwelcome sexual advances, or physical, visual, or verbal conduct of a sexual nature. This behavior may create an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment and is based on an employee’s sex. It not necessary that the offensive conduct is motivated by sexual desire. Under California law it is sufficient that the offensive conduct be based upon an employee’s perceived or actual sex or gender identify, sexual orientation, pregnancy, childbirth, and gender related medical conditions.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, speak with an experienced attorney who can ensure you are compensated for any damages or lost work due to the harassment.
COMMON EXAMPLES OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
Harassment in the workplace can manifest in a variety of ways. The following are examples of common behavior that can be harassing in nature and lead to a hostile work environment:
- Unwanted touching, such as back rubs, pinching, “accidental” brushes against your body
- Derogatory or sexual comments, jokes, epithets or slurs
- Discussion of sexual acts
- A threat to reduce your pay, hours, benefits, or other conditions of employment unless you comply with a sexual request
- An offer for benefits or employment in exchange for sexual favors
- The display of sexually suggestive pictures or objects
- Graphic or sexually degrading comments
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN HARASSED AT WORK
If you have experienced or are currently experiencing harassment in the workplace, the following are important steps to take:
- Read your company’s sexual harassment policy, which often will outline the actions to take when harassment is occurring. Be sure to put complaints in writing and keep detailed records of all incidents of harassment. In the records be sure to specify the date and time of the harassment and all individuals involved.
- Based on the guidelines in your company’s sexual harassment policy, reach out and inform your employer regarding the harassment. Failing to report the harassment may impact your ability to pursue remedies in the future, so it is incredibly important to report.
- File a complaint with the state or federal agency regarding the harassment.
PROVING SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
In California, in order to establish sexual harassment, you must show that the conduct was either pervasive or so severe that it affected an employee’s ability to work. When the conduct affects employees’ ability to work, it is known as a “hostile work environment.” Not only can the target of the behavior have a harassment claim, but those who are forced to repeatedly witness inappropriate comments and actions can pursue a claim.
If you have been the victim of a hostile work environment or have been the target of sexual harassment in the workplace, and your employer has failed to adequately remedy the problem, reach out to an attorney. It is not uncommon for employers to refuse to act, or for the reporting of the harassment to lead to more harassment. In these situations, an attorney can guide you and protect your rights.