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Who Is Covered Under Sexual Harassment Legislation?

When you go to work, you're expecting a non-hostile environment. That is why there has been legislation put in place to protect standard employees from sexual harassment. The laws have had to be amended since the word employee has had to be defined, and more situations keep arising where individuals need to be protected against discrimination and sexual harassment. Recent laws show that current legislation is constantly being amended to accommodate everyone to the best of the laws ability, and seeking legal assistance can help you keep up to date with the laws on sexual harassment.

What legislation protects employees?

California employees are protected against sexual harassment and discrimination within a work setting or during any work-related events at the federal and state level. At the federal level, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and at the state level with the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) which covers discrimination against employees including retaliation. Also on the state level is the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which applies more to businesses, but also includes their employers and employees. These legislations prohibit the discriminations against employers for any reason and protects them from harassment, including sexual harassment.

Recent legislation defining employee

The term "employee" is not good enough to describe every position involved in a business. The term also includes those who are seeking employment with a company, unpaid interns, volunteers and those with contracts with a company. There are many times where those who are considered employees have special circumstances. Most recently, California has amended the FEHA with a bill that expands the term "employee" to also mean those working with disabilities who obtain special licenses and work for a rehabilitation facility or non-profit workshop for those with disabilities.

Legislation in the works

Recently, female entrepreneurs have been speaking out about being sexually harassed by venture capitalists. Those wishing to start their own business can be put into uncomfortable situations with those who have money to help them out. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a California state senator, is beginning new legislation to clarify the protection that the Unruh Civil Rights Act should be giving entrepreneurs against sexual harassment. While the act says that any kind of sexual harassment between teacher and student, landlord and renter, or doctor and patient, it does not mention entrepreneurs and those seeking to fund their startups.

Why it is important to know who's protected

You don't even need to be the target of sexual harassment to file a claim as an employee. If a boss or fellow employee is constantly looking at pornographic material in the workplace or someone in a management or executive position is in a relationship with another employee and offers him or her special treatment, you can report being in a hostile work environment, which is one of the forms of sexual harassment you are protected from as an employee.

Most kinds of behavior that create an uncomfortable environment where you can't get work done is cause for legal action. You can also help a friend if you see your fellow employee suffering from sexual harassment more than once, but you'll need to know who is protected and if what is happening is actually sexual harassment.

With the changing definitions of who constitutes as an employee and who is protected in a work setting against sexual harassment, you'll want to seek legal assistance if you think you or a coworker has a case to make against someone. It's important that sexual harassment is dealt with so it doesn't continue since your place of employment is how you make your living. Sexual harassment can also lead to mental health issues and unneeded stress that may cost you more than your livelihood.

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