Sexual harassment damages both the employer and employee. Employees who feel they have been sexually harassed often suffer significant psychological and financial harm, especially when they feel they cannot advance in their careers. For the employer, a sexual harassment claim can cause morale to drop and employee productivity to decrease.
It is important to identify sexual harassment risks and train employees on what sexual harassment and improper workplace behavior are. Any employee who believes he or she was sexually harassed should speak with an attorney right away to determine whether there is a cause of action against the employer. The San Francisco sexual harassment lawyers at Minnis & Smallets LLP, are available to help employees and employers with all their employment and labor law needs, including sexual harassment claims.
In the most general sense, sexual harassment occurs when someone makes any form of an unwanted sexual advance or requests a sexual favor. It can also be any physical or verbal contact that is targeting a specific person based on their sex. It may not even be an explicitly sexual comment directed to someone in particular. If a manager makes a general sexist comment about one gender or another, it could qualify as sexual harassment.
California law goes one step further and prohibits harassment based on someone’s sexual orientation or perceived gender identity. An offhand comment may not qualify, but if the comment or conduct was bad enough to create a hostile work environment, then the employer could be found liable.
There is also quid pro quo harassment that happens when a supervisor makes benefits or future employment conditional on an employee’s participation in behavior that involves unwanted sexual conduct or acceptance of offensive or otherwise abusive conduct related to the employee’s gender. An example is the promise of a promotion in exchange for a sexual relationship.
It is not uncommon for employees both to be somewhat unsure about how to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace. An employee who has a valid sexual harassment claim should consider whether to report the harassment or seek competent legal advice. There may be steps the employee must take in accordance with the company’s internal complaint process. If that does not resolve the issue, he or she should reach out to an attorney to discuss other options, which may include filing a formal complaint with the proper government agency or, in some cases, a lawsuit.
The skilled team at Minnis & Smallets LLP can assist San Francisco area employees to address sexual harassment in the workplace. Contact the office at 415-551-0885 to schedule a consultation today.