Sexual harassment at work is unlawful, but the law doesn’t discourage some bosses, managers, workers, or customers from engaging in harassing behavior. Sexual harassment stays a prevailing issue. Data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) indicate that nearly one out of every five complaints filed there concern allegations of sexual harassment.
If you’ve been sexually harassed, you aren’t alone. Our lawyers assist with sexual harassment claims. Contact us for a free, private consultation with one of our Bay Area sexual harassment attorneys.
Sexual harassment is unwanted and unsolicited behavior that is harmful and unsettling because of your sex and/or gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. On most occasions, sexual harassment usually takes one of two forms. The more common form is where the harasser’s conduct creates a work environment that is hostile, intimidating, offensive, oppressive, or abusive. The second kind is quid pro quo harassment, where employee benefits are based on sexual favors.
Both types of sexual harassment are unlawful.
California law hasn’t always protected workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Still, the United States Supreme Court recently held that employers could not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Sexual harassment based on the work environment demands a showing of harassing conduct that is:
Harassing behavior can be verbal, physical, or visual. The behavior does not need to be sexual to be harassing. What makes a behavior “harassing” is that it is undesirable and expresses a hostile, intimidating, offensive, oppressive, or abusive message to the harassed worker because of their membership in a protected class (such as sex and/or gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity).
A manager’s or associate’s disrespectful conduct does not automatically create an illegal harassing work environment. But if the behavior is directed at you or is disturbing to you due to your membership in a protected class, then it might support a harassing work environment claim. You need to report the conduct to your employer and consider seeking legal advice in either case.
Choosing to report sexual harassment to your employer is an essential first measure. When you take steps to put your employer on notice of sexual harassment, they are obligated to remedy it.
If you decide to report sexual harassment, find out whether your employer has any established guidelines for filing a complaint. Further, your employer may have a hotline available to you to file complaints anonymously. However you choose to complain, be clear.
There are other measures you can take to defend yourself:
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