Sexual harassment is unlawful in the workplace. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as “a form of sex discrimination” that is in violation of federal law. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) also prohibits sexual harassment under state law, and it provides greater protections than does federal law. For employers and employees in Silicon Valley, it is important to understand the distinctions between federal and California state law concerning sexual harassment, and to recognize behaviors that may constitute sexual harassment.
Employers should know that they have certain responsibilities with regard to sexual harassment in the workplace, and employees should understand their rights. A sexual harassment lawyer in Silicon Valley can assist with your case.
Sexual harassment is unlawful under both federal and state law:
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (federal law), sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination that is unlawful in the workplace, and these claims go through the EEOC; and
Under the California FEHA (state law), sexual harassment is defined more broadly, offering protections to anyone who faces discrimination as a result of sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and these claims go through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
It is important to recognize that sexual desire does not have to play a role in sexual harassment, and the harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can occur when an individual makes comments about another person’s sex that rise to the level of harassment. Generally speaking, there are two different types of sexual harassment:
In some cases, sexual harassment may result from discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Since these forms of discrimination are not expressly prohibited under federal law, individuals in this situation likely will want to file a claim under the FEHA.
When sexual harassment clearly violates both federal and state law, the plaintiff may have an option for deciding where to file her claim. There are benefits and limitations to filing under both federal and state law, and you should speak with a Silicon Valley sexual harassment attorney about your case.
There are many different types of behaviors that can constitute sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can be perpetrated by numerous parties, including employers, co-workers, and even customers. Employers should take steps to prevent sexual harassment but should also know that retaliation is unlawful. If you have questions about handling a sexual harassment claim, you should discuss your case with a sexual harassment lawyer in Silicon Valley. Contact Minnis & Smallets LLP for more information about how we can assist you.