The short answer to who is at risk for workplace sexual harassment is everyone. Sexual harassment can affect employees of all ages, genders, and occupations.
At California Employment Counsel, APC, we understand that every single person has the right to a work environment that is safe and free from sexual abuse and harassment. Stereotypical sexual harassment always seems to depict the woman as the victim—being targeted by a manager or supervisor. In many sexual harassment cases, however, the sexual abuse or harassment comes from a co-worker instead of a manager. Also, male victims now feel more comfortable coming forward against sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as victims of same-sex sexual harassment. All sexual harassment violates federal and state laws and is illegal.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC) has established guidelines regarding the definition of sexual harassment as follows:
- Unwelcome physical touching or contact
- Sexual advances, including verbal offers or requests (including “quid pro quo” offers requesting sexual favors for continued employment or promotions/advancements, etc.)
- Displaying offensive pictures via electronic means or in the workplace
- Sexually offensive text messages, email, or postings on any social media platform (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
- Sexually or offensive comments directed at either at you or around you
Who is at Risk?
Supervisors sexually harassing women victims is a stereotype, and while this type of sexual harassment does occur in the workplace, any person is at risk.
- Male Victims – The EEOC has stated that same-sex sexual harassment is just as illegal as opposite-sex sexual harassment and their guidelines indicate that,
“…both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.”
- Same-Sex Victims – The EEOC’s position regarding same-sex sexual harassment was ultimately examined and reinforced by the highest court in our nation. The U.S. Supreme Court determined that sexual harassment does not have to be between persons of the opposite sex, and that sexual harassment from someone of the same sex is just as illegal as opposite-sex harassment. Additionally, the Supreme Court in its decision held that same-sex sexual harassment is just as damaging and illegal as that of opposite-sex sexual harassment (Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., 523 U.S. 75 (1998).
- Co-Worker Victims – While sexual harassment can come from a manager or supervisor, an employer will be responsible and liable for the sexual harassment of its employees (or independent contractors) as well. This includes other employees and even independent contractors on the premises. If sexual harassment is going on in the workplace, even among employees, immediate action must be taken.
An Advocate You Can Trust
At California Employment Counsel, APC, we know that you may feel uncertain whether you have been a victim of sexual harassment, especially if your case does not fall under stereotypical societal assumptions. No matter who you are, or who has sexually harassed you in the workplace, contact one of our experienced sexual harassment attorneys in Orange County today. Our experienced attorneys offer a free consultation to discuss your case of sexual harassment in the workplace. Contact us online or call (714) 266-1615 to discuss your legal rights today.