While most California workers know that sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited, it is far more difficult to know what to do about it. You need advice from a sexual harassment attorney in Oakland who is on your side. Remember, the company’s legal department is there to protect the company – not you. Our experienced employment lawyers can help you determine the best way to protect your legal right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace. By understanding what sexual harassment is and what an employment lawyer can do for you, you will be in the best possible position to protect your legal rights.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment based on gender. At that time, there were few (if any) laws that actually prohibited sexual harassment at work. Civil rights lawyers had to go to court and make the argument that sexual harassment was actually a form of prohibited gender discrimination. Because the victim is being treated differently at work on the basis of their gender, they are facing unlawful discrimination. This is why sexual harassment is unlawful. It is also why more statutes, case law, and regulations, including California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, have been enacted to define what acts constitute sexual harassment.
It is not always easy to determine what acts actually qualify as unlawful sexual harassment. In fact, this exact question leads to most sexual harassment litigation. A company might try to claim that the issue was just “an inappropriate joke gone wrong” or a “misunderstanding.” It is important to consult with your own lawyer about whether your circumstances meet the legal definition of sexual harassment. There are two types of sexual harassment. The first is called “quid pro quo,” in which a supervisor conditions future employment or benefits on the employee’s participation in unwanted sexual conduct or acceptance of abusive or offensive conduct that is related to the employee’s gender. For example, threatening to fire an employee if she rejects or complains about unwelcome sexual advances is a form of quid pro quo harassment.
The second type of sexual harassment is a hostile work environment. In this case, the environment can be created by any coworker, not just a supervisor. A hostile work environment can be created by verbal comments, physical touching, gestures, drawings, or any other words or actions that are related to the victim’s gender. These words or actions must create a hostile, offensive, oppressive, or intimidating work environment. Such conduct is unlawful when it sufficiently offends, humiliates, or distresses an employee, so as to disrupt their emotional tranquility in the workplace, affect their ability to perform the job as usual, or otherwise interfere with their personal sense of well-being. Consult with your own sexual harassment lawyer to determine whether your circumstances qualify as a hostile work environment. Your lawyer will also develop a comprehensive legal strategy to protect your legal rights when the company is notified of the situation.
The experienced sexual harassment lawyers at Minnis & Smallets fight hard to keep the workplaces of California safe for all workers. We have years of experience handling sexual harassment cases, and clients across the Golden State trust us to protect their legal rights. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with an Oakland sexual harassment attorney.
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