Sexual harassment laws protect all employees from unlawful sexual harassment whether the harassment is coming from another employee, a supervisor, an employer, or from customers or vendors of the company. Both state and federal employment laws offer protection so that those who are trying to do a job can do so without feeling sexually harassed. People have a right to feel safe at work and free from unwanted attention. Our Los Angeles CA workplace sexual harassment attorneys understand the challenges of working in a hostile work environment and the effects it can have on your everyday life. Many victims of sexual harassment are embarrassed and hope the problem will go away on its own, but this kind of unwanted behavior rarely goes away on its own. Always feel free to discuss your case and get free legal advice from a Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer.
WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
Sexual harassment covers a wide variety of behavior, including any verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which could reasonably interfere with an individual employee’s ability to do an assigned job. This could be anything from unwanted sexual advances to risque jokes to offering benefits in return for sexual favors. You can be a victim of sexual harassment whether you are male or female, and sexual harassment cases may be based on persistent behavior that is at first ignored or overlooked. For instance, there may be someone in the workplace who makes sexual comments in inappropriate situations, and it doesn’t seem like a big deal at first.
TYPES OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
There are two basic types of sexual harassment: Quid Pro Quo harassment is when someone in charge, usually a supervisor but possibly someone in a higher position of authority, offers benefits in exchange for sexual favors. The behavior may be more subtle, such as demanding that you go along with inappropriate verbal behavior, to blatant, such as demanding actual sexual favors such as kisses and touching. A Hostile Work Environment is a kind of harassment where the sexual content is so pervasive that the working environment becomes abusive or offensive. When determining whether such an environment exists, courts have examined evidence such as the frequency of the behavior, the relationship of the parties, whether others joined in the offensive behavior, and whether the behavior singled out a particular victim.
Employment law requires businesses to offer safe working environments for employees. Just like you would not be expected to work in an office filled with toxic fumes, you are not expected to work in an environment with toxic behavior. Companies with 15 or more employees are governed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, while those with fewer employees are subject to state employment law. If you can prove that either form of sexual harassment occurred during your employment, you can sue your employer for both compensatory and punitive damages. That means that you can ask to be compensated for a dollar amount of any financial benefit you lost and for pain and suffering, but that you can also ask for punitive damages, which are designed to punish the offenders if the behavior is particularly egregious. Your Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney can help you assess whether you have a Title VII claim or a state claim and what kind of award you may be eligible for if you prevail in your claim.
STOPPING SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Victims of sexual harassment are often afraid to complain about harassment in the workplace because they are afraid of retaliation, including the possibility of discipline or even firing. Some have even tried to stop the unwanted behavior on their own, politely informing other individuals when their behavior is offensive. Some people are really not aware that their behavior is unwanted, and may stop on their own. The next step would be to ask for help from a supervisor, and if the supervisor is causing the problem, that person’s supervisor. Some companies have a human resources department to handle a claim of sexual harassment in the office. Ultimately, you can only be expected to do what is reasonable to protect yourself. Your employer is the one who is liable under law to protect all employees in any office location, whether it be in a physical location or in mandated online forums. Once they have been notified of the problem, they are required to protect your rights during your course of employment. The Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers in our office have successfully handled many cases of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment. If you or a loved one are dealing with a hostile work environment, contact us today by calling or filling out our contact form. We offer a free consultation so we can discuss your legal rights and get you the help you need so you can work without fear.