Harassment |
December 14, 2016

San Francisco Attorneys Working Against Sexual Harassment: Do You Know Your Rights?

Rights Against Harassment

Our employment lawyers help victims recover compensation for sexual harassment by employers in San Francisco and the Bay Area

Employees in San Francisco turn to sexual harassment attorneys when they have been victimized by inappropriate or hostile behavior in the workplace because of their sex, gender, or sexual identity. The employment lawyers at Minnis & Smallets want all Bay Area employees to understand their rights if they have experienced sexual harassment at their jobs.

The Right to Be Free from Sexual Harassment

Federal and California sexual harassment laws make it unlawful to subject an employee to unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. Physical contact of a sexual nature, including sexual assault and inappropriate and uninvited touching, may constitute sexual harassment.

When sexual harassment is committed by an owner or manager, or by a supervisor who has the authority to fire, demote, or reduce a worker’s pay, the employer can generally be held responsible for the supervisor’s conduct.

When the harassment is committed by a co-worker or by someone who is not an employee but has contact with the victim in the workplace, the harassed employee should still immediately report the situation to the employer so that the employer has an opportunity to take corrective action. When an employer fails to protect an employee from harassment after being notified of the problem, the employer is liable for tolerating a hostile work environment. The harassed employee should obtain immediate legal advice from a sexual harassment attorney to learn about potential remedies.

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The Right to Work to Be Free from Demands for Sexual Favors

An employer is not allowed to condition employment, wages, benefits, or favorable treatment in the workplace on the performance of sexual favors. A manager or supervisor who demands sex and threatens the loss of employment or pay, or who promises a raise, promotion, or better working conditions if the demand is met, may be violating laws that prohibit sexual harassment.

Conditioning a job or the terms and conditions of employment on the performance of sexual favors is known as quid pro quo harassment. An employee who has experienced quid pro quo harassment should obtain prompt legal advice. A sexual harassment lawyer can help the employee gather evidence of the violation and can explain the actions the employee should take to protect his or her rights.

The Right to Be Free from a Hostile Work Environment

Workers have the right to work in an environment that is not sexually degrading or offensive. While isolated insults or occasional offensive remarks might not violate the law, a pervasive atmosphere of hostility to employees because of their sex, gender, or sexual identity violates the employee’s right to work in an environment that is free of sexual harassment.

Examples of a hostile work environment include obscene or vulgar remarks, unwanted sexual propositions, the display of pornographic pictures or cartoons in workplaces or break areas, and other conduct or language that most people would consider to be sexually degrading or offensive. Workers also create a hostile work environment when they make it clear, through language or conduct, that other employees are not wanted in the workplace because of their sex, gender, or sexual identity.

Most large employers, and many small employers, have written sexual harassment policies. Employees who are exposed to a hostile work environment should report the problem as the policy directs. If the problem persists after it is reported, or if the affected employee has not been notified of the policy, a sexual harassment attorney can help the employee decide upon an appropriate course of action.

The Right to Oppose Sexual Harassment

Employees have the right to be free from retaliation when they complain about sexual harassment. Even if an investigation determines that the complaint was unfounded, it is unlawful to retaliate against the employee for making the complaint.

Employees also have the right to assist other employees with their sexual harassment complaints. It is unlawful to retaliate against an employee for cooperating with an investigation, testifying as a witness in a legal proceeding, or helping another employee prepare or investigate a sexual harassment complaint.

Retaliation can consist of firing, demotion, pay reduction, reassignment to a less favorable position, the denial of a promotion, unfair performance reviews, or other adverse employment actions.

The Right to a Remedy

Employees who have been subjected to unlawful sexual harassment have the right to a remedy. Those who lost their jobs or were demoted for opposing sexual harassment or refusing a sexual advance may be entitled to back pay. Compensation is also available for emotional distress. A court can order employers to reinstate a sexual harassment victim and to cease further acts of harassment.

Employees should seek legal advice if they believe they were subjected to sexual harassment. A San Francisco sexual harassment attorney can determine the appropriate remedy for employees who were harassed because of their gender or sexual identity.

Have any questions?

Do you have questions regarding your rights? At Minnis & Smallets we want all employees to understand their rights if they have experienced sexual harassment in their work. To learn more please do not hesitate to call us at 1-415-551-0885 or submit our online contact form.