Experiencing sexual harassment at work can be a traumatic experience. Perpetrators undermine victims’ confidence and self-esteem. As a victim, it is easy to feel powerless. What will happen if you report the harassment? What will happen if you don’t? The sexual harassment lawyer at Custis Law, P.C. will explain your legal options and help you choose the best path forward.
You should not ever experience sexual harassment at work. Nor should you have to tolerate sexual harassment. You deserve to feel safe and secure at work. You do not deserve to feel frightened and anxious simply at the prospect of going to work, much less remaining there through the workday. You need your job. Maybe you even like your job. But when you are the victim of sexual harassment, it’s common to feel helpless and intimidated, belittled and demeaned. A Los Angeles employment lawyer from Custis Law, P.C. can help.
In California, state and federal laws provide clear protections against sexual harassment in the workplace. Individuals who experience harassment are entitled to both (i) take legal action to stop the harassment, and (ii) seek financial compensation for the loss of income and emotional trauma they have endured. At Custis Law, P.C., we are committed to fighting for victims of workplace sexual harassment, and we rely on over 20 years of litigation experience to ensure that our clients receive the protections and remedies they deserve.
If you have experienced sexual harassment at work, contact us online or at (213) 863-4276 to schedule a free, confidential consultation. Our sexual harassment lawyer handles sex harassment cases on a contingency basis. That means we do not get paid unless and until we obtain a settlement or verdict on your behalf.
If you are in need of a Sexual Harassment Lawyer, contact Custis Law, P.C. today for a free consultation.
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Recognizing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
It is not always easy to discern innocent behavior from sexual harassment in the workplace. Some behavior, while inappropriate, does not necessarily qualify as sexual harassment. Knowing how to recognize sexual harassment in the workplace can help you protect your rights. There are two general types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
Quid Pro Quo. Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that means “this for that.” This form of sexual harassment occurs when a supervisor or manager or other superior offers you a job, promotion or some other benefit at work on the condition that you submit to his sexual advances or demands for sexual favors. In these cases, a supervisor uses his position of power to extort sexual favors from a vulnerable employee. These cases are not common but still occur in today’s workplace.
Hostile Work Environment. Creating a hostile work environment is the most common form of sexual harassment. A hostile work environment based on sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex unreasonably interferes with your work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. A single manager, supervisor, or coworker can cause you to experience a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment can also result from a department-wide or company-wide culture of inappropriate and unwelcome behavior.
Some examples of behaviors that could be unlawful sexual harassment include the following:
- A coworker sending sexually explicit text messages.
- Inappropriate touching in a sexual manner.
- Forwarding pictures or literature that is sexually explicit or graphic in nature.
- Repeated romantic overtures.
- Sexual comments or jokes (verbal, written, or via text or email).
- Use of epithets, derogatory comments, or slurs.
- Rubbing against a coworker.
- Physical interference with movement or work.
It is important to note that being a victim in the scenarios above might not be enough to file a claim. When determining whether there is cause for a hostile work environment claim, you and your attorney must prove that (1) you were subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct, advances or comments, (2) that the workplace harassment was severe or pervasive enough to create an abusive working environment, (3) and that your employer knew or should have known that harassment was taking place.
When does repeated harassment transition from “occasional” to “pervasive”? Who decides if a single act is “trivial” or “severe”? These are not easy questions to answer. Assessing a potential claim for hostile work environment harassment requires a fact-intensive assessment of the particular circumstances involved.
If you have been subjected to sexual harassment, or if you’re not sure but feel that you’ve been harassed at work, you should absolutely speak with an attorney about your legal rights. Contact us online or at (213) 863-4276 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
What You Can Do Now if You’re Experiencing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
If you are experiencing sexual harassment at work, you can take a number of steps to protect yourself and preserve your legal rights.
Tell the Harasser To Stop
If you feel safe doing so, tell the harasser to stop. While this doesn’t always work, in some cases, individuals may not realize that their conduct is unwelcome or inappropriate.
Keep a journal of the sexual harassment you’ve experienced, including dates, places, times, names of the persons involved and names of witnesses. Keep this journal at home or in a safe place, and not at work.
Report It in Writing
Many employers have sexual harassment policies in their employee handbook. If your employer does, follow the procedure in the handbook for reporting sexual harassment. If your employer does not, make a written report to your supervisor or someone in human resources. This report does not need to be long or formal. An email will work fine. If your supervisor is harassing you, make a written report to human resources.
Keep copies of emails and other documents that you have sent or received from your employer regarding your complaint. Keep copies of emails and other documents, too, that you have received that you suspect are discriminatory or harassing. If your employer has an employee handbook, obtain a copy. Also, keep copies of positive performance reviews and letters. Keep these records at home or in a safe place, and not at work.
No one wants to experience sexual harassment or discrimination at work. We understand that. But employees who quit before reporting sexual harassment will have a more difficult time winning a lawsuit. If you’re experiencing a stressful workplace, talk to an experienced employment attorney about how to preserve your legal claims.
Take Care of Yourself
Seek professional counseling or treatment if you are experiencing emotional distress, anxiety, depression or other psychological symptoms because of sexual harassment.
Contact an Employment Attorney
Contact an employment attorney at Custis Law, P.C. online or at (213) 863-4276 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Employer Liability and the Importance of Reporting Sexual Harassment
The law is clear that employers can be held liable for sexual harassment committed by their employees. But if and when an employer can be held responsible for sexual harassment at the workplace depends on who is committing the sexual harassment and whether you have reported the harassment to your supervisor or HR.
1. Sexual Harassment Committed by a Superior
In cases involving sexual harassment committed by a manager, supervisor, or other superior, California employers are held to a standard of “strict liability.” This means that the employer is liable regardless of whether it knew of the conduct, knew of a history of prior complaints against the perpetrator, or attempted to take reasonable measures to protect you.
2. Sexual Harassment Committed by a Coworker or Other Individual
When the sexual harassment is committed by a coworker, subcontractor, customer, client, or other individual present in the victim’s place of work, the victim’s employer is liable only if it knew or should have known that the harassment was occurring. In these cases, to preserve your legal claims, you must report the harassment to your supervisor or your employer’s human resources department in writing.
While reporting sexual harassment can be frightening, intimidating, and even embarrassing, it is necessary to protect your rights. California and federal laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who report sexual harassment. If your employer does retaliate, you have grounds for a lawsuit, and a whistleblower attorney can help you file a lawsuit.
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California Law Also Prohibits Groping
According to a study published in the New York Times in 2018, 51 percent of women have experienced unwanted sexual touching in the workplace. While unwanted touching can constitute sexual harassment in the workplace, the victims of unwanted sexual touching or groping can also assert a separate cause of action under California law for sexual battery.
California law defines sexual battery as a person acting with the intent to cause harmful or offensive contact with the intimate part of another, or by use of his or her intimate part where sexually offensive contact with that person directly or indirectly results. Liability may also exist if the person acts to cause an imminent apprehension of being touched in a sexually offensive manner.
What does that mean? That means that if someone grabs, slaps or touches your breasts, butt or genitalia area without your consent and in a way that offends you, you may be able to assert a separate cause of action against the perpetrator for sexual battery.
There is no excuse for this reprehensible misconduct. If you have been groped by a supervisor, coworker, or anyone else at work, we encourage you to contact us promptly to discuss your case.
Let A Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Attorney Fight For You
If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, we will level the playing field and hold those responsible accountable. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with Los Angeles harassment lawyer Keith Custis at Custis Law, P.C., contact us online or at (213) 863-4276 today.
Contact Custis Law, P.C.
If you would like to schedule a free, no-risk consultation with Custis Law, P.C., call (213) 863-4276 or submit a request through our online form. If we cannot answer you inquiry immediately, we will be in touch within 24 hours.