Under both federal and California state law, it is unlawful to harass a job applicant or an employee on the basis of that individual’s sex. California law extends additional protections to employees beyond what federal law provides, and specifically states that sexual harassment is a form of employment discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Supervisors can be personally responsible if they engage in workplace harassment. In addition, California law prohibits harassment against independent contractors. A Marin County sexual harassment lawyer can discuss these laws with you in detail.
What should employees and employers alike know about sexual harassment in the workplace? The following facts come from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH):
Generally speaking, most sexual harassment claims in Marin County will be filed either under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (federal law) or the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which is a California state law.
If you file under federal law, you will need to file your claim with the EEOC. If you file under state law, you will need to file your claim with the DFEH. The decision about where to file a claim should be based on a number of different factors that are specific to your case. For example, if the sexual harassment includes offensive conduct on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, California law’s broader protections may require you to file your claim with the DFEH. A Marin County sexual harassment lawyer can speak with you about your options.
Employers in Marin County may have an affirmative duty to address and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. In the event an employer knows about harassment and fails to take reasonable steps to correct and/or to prevent future sexual harassment, it can be held liable. Employers can also be strictly liable for harassment by its supervisors. Required ways to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and to handle complaints include but are not limited to:
By contrast, if an employer creates or permits a workplace environment where harassment is tolerated, then if it is aware of harassment but fails to take any steps to address the situation, then it may be liable for damages resulting from the hostile work environment.
If you need assistance with a sexual harassment complaint, a Marin County sexual harassment attorney can assist with your case. Contact Minnis & Smallets LLP today.