Sexual harassment in California is defined as any unwelcome verbal, physical or even visual conduct that is sexual in nature and severe or pervasive. The behaviors can include anything from a joke about pornography to unwanted touching. Sexual harassment affects a victim in the sense that it creates a negative or hostile work environment, leading the victim to be uneasy, tense or even afraid at work.
In order for a person’s behaviors or actions to be considered sexual harassment, the victim must communicate their disapproval. Victims must tell the harasser either verbally or in writing that they wish for the conduct to cease immediately. If the harasser does not stop, matters should be elevated to a supervisor, Human Resources representative or can even be contested in court.
Some examples of sexual harassment behaviors include:
• Quid pro quo (this for that) harassment: Harasser will offer the victim a promotion, raise or other benefit in exchange for a sexual favor.
• Verbal harassment: Offender will make lewd comments, inappropriate remarks or jokes about a person’s body, attire or looks. The victim does not have to be the subject of the commentary in order for them to feel offended and file sexual harassment charges.
• Physical Harassment: Harasser touches the victim inappropriately, such as by hugging, kissing or groping. May include violence, as in rape.
• Written Harassment: Offender writes emails, letters or text messages that are sexual in nature.
• Non-Verbal/Visual Harassment: Perpetrator will stare at victim, look them up and down or stalk them. Harasser may also be taking photographs of the victim without their permission or may be sending picture messages or emails that are sexual in nature and inappropriate.
Who is Affected by Sexual Harassment?
Although the majority of sexual harassment victims in the workplace are women, anyone can be affected by lewd and unwanted sexual conduct and advances. Victims can be male or female, of any age, gender and sexual orientation.
How Sexual Harassment Affects Victims
When sexual harassment occurs at work, victims no longer feel safe and comfortable in their environment, regardless of whether the situation occurred one time or repeatedly. They may perform poorly or hold themselves back out of fear that the harasser will retaliate. Sexual harassment can get so intense that the victim may no longer be able to carry out their normal duties and may feel isolated and afraid.
Sexual Harassment Laws in California
In California, sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The FEHA applies to any employment agencies, private or public employers, labor organizations and state and local governments with at least one employee. As per California law AB 1825, all employees holding a supervisory position in the state must complete two hours of mandatory sexual harassment prevention education.
Although California law allows victims more time to come forward with their complaints, victims are urged to speak up about their incidents as soon as possible. California law requires employees to file a complaint with the FEHA within one year of the sexual harassment act. Victims may also obtain personal legal representation, such as a sexual harassment attorney, to represent their rights and interests.
Legal Rights for Victims
In California, a person may not be fired, denied a promotion, demoted or reassigned from their position because of their refusal to acquiesce to the sexual demands or because they filed a complaint. If a victim’s job is affected because of sexual harassment, this is a violation of federal law. Victims may be eligible to receive compensation for their pain and suffering as well. If you or someone you know has been suffering from any unwanted sexual advances or comments, speak to a leading sexual harassment lawyer in California right away.
Everyone has a legal right to a safe workplace that is free of hostile actions. As a sexual harassment victim, you should not be afraid to come forward. California law protects victims of sexual harassment and ensures that the perpetrator is held liable for their actions. With the help of a top sexual harassment attorney, the unwelcome behaviors will cease and the offender will never harm the individual – or anyone else – again.
Sexual harassment lawyers take the time to speak with employees at the incident site and make sure that everyone knows what sexual harassment is and how it can be avoided. No matter what your individual situation is, know that you do not have to suffer any longer. Turn to a skilled team of sexual harassment attorneys in California today to get started on your case.
Contact a team of sexual harassment lawyers in California as soon as possible to begin your case.