Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Harassment

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for California employees to encounter sexual harassment without realizing that what they are experiencing is illegal and unacceptable. It’s vital for all employees to fully understand the definition of sexual harassment and know what to do if they encounter such behavior in the workplace. It is not always easy to define what illegal harassment actually is. There are many situations in which the line seems blurred, and therefore you do not know what to do.

The sexual harassment lawyers of California Employment Counsel, APC, can help you deal with this difficult situation. We have successfully handled hundreds of cases involving workplace sexual harassment. We are not afraid to take on any employer, especially employers who failed to properly manage and protect their employees.

Your Questions Are Important | Get Them Answered By A Qualified Attorney

Reliable legal guidance is invaluable when you have experienced something like sexual harassment in the workplace. Your Orange County sexual harassment attorney should be able to clarify your options for legal recourse and investigate the full scope of damages you may be able to claim through legal action against your employer. The California Employment Counsel, APC wants to provide as much foundational information as we can to employees facing sexual harassment at work. We can help you address tough questions like:

What counts as sexual harassment?

It depends on the situation. Essentially, if someone has treated you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, that is harassment. It can be in person or via text, overt or subtle, come from a vendor or your boss: there are many ways to harass someone. Sometimes harassment is actually miscommunication or an attempt at humor taken too far. If you have experienced any type of unwanted behavior, make it immediately clear that the behavior is unwanted and unacceptable. It may end right there, but if it does not, it is time to explore your options for legal recourse.

What are some common examples of sexual harassment?

It is important to remember that sexual harassment exists in many forms. Some of the ways sexual harassment can manifest in the workplace include:

  • Making unwelcome sexual advances.
  • Making crude or sexual jokes, references, and comments.
  • Performing sexual gestures.
  • Posting lewd or explicit materials in an employee’s private workspace, a shared workspace, break room, or restroom.

If you have experienced any behavior like this at work and it has continued despite your clear protest, you may have grounds for a sexual harassment claim. If your experiences include any unwanted physical contact of any kind, your claim may escalate to a sexual assault or sexual battery case. In this situation, the offender will likely face severe criminal penalties in addition to civil liability for your damages.

What should my employer do for me if I have experienced sexual harassment at work?

It’s always best to attempt to resolve a sexual harassment issue using internal company policy before resorting to legal action. Most companies uphold strict anti-harassment policies and must investigate any sexual harassment claims filed by employees. When an employer learns of sexual harassment but does nothing to stop the problem and it continues, the employee can potentially take legal action against their harasser specifically as well as their employer. If you have reported sexual harassment at work and your employer has not taken any appropriate response, it’s time to speak with an Orange County sexual harassment attorney.

Is it sexual harassment to ask a coworker out on a date?

It’s natural for romantic relationships to develop within some workplaces. Some employers in California and throughout the United States uphold strict anti-fraternization policies that forbid personal relationships between employees. Other organizations do not mind if employees have personal relationships as long as their personal lives do not interfere with their ability to perform their job duties. If an employee asks another employee out on a date and is rejected, they should not press the issue and keep asking. Doing so would constitute sexual harassment.

What can I do if I work with my ex and they harass me?

If you had a personal relationship with a coworker in the past and the relationship ended, you still have options. A past relationship does not insulate your ex from legal action if they start sexually harassing you. Once you have made it clear their behavior is unwanted, unwelcome, and inappropriate, the behavior should stop immediately. Otherwise, you would have grounds for a sexual harassment claim regardless of your past relationship.

Can I pursue a sexual harassment claim if a customer or outside business representative is harassing me?

Many employees interact with the public as customers or with representatives and employees of other organizations. If you have been harassed by a customer or an employee of a partnered business over which your employer has no authority, you should still report the problem and give your employer a chance to fix it. If you report the problem and the issue persists because your employer will do nothing to stop it, get help from an attorney. This behavior may constitute grounds for a sexual harassment claim since your employer has the ability to potentially stop it but did nothing.

What if my boss denies it, and it comes down to my word against his?

This is a common reason people do not report harassment: they think people will not believe them over their boss. However, knowing that you are protected by law can ease your mind. Having a lawyer on your side can help as well. Retain any evidence you have of the harassment, and do not be afraid to bring a case.

What if I’ve been fired, demoted or treated abusively for reporting the harassment? Should I still consider legal action?

Employees in the United States have several rights, including the right to perform certain protected actions like reporting sexual harassment in good faith. Other common protected actions include filing for workers’ compensation benefits, testifying in an open case involving the employer, or reporting a workplace safety violation to a government oversight agency. Whenever an employer intentionally takes disciplinary or adverse action against an employee in response to their protected action, this is illegal retaliation. There are rules in place to protect you from retaliation. It is important to make records of each instance of retaliation because a lawyer can help you stop it and hold them accountable.

Can I recover compensation from a sexual harassment claim?

Sexual harassment of any kind is illegal in California and throughout the United States, and many different legal statues are likely to come into play in your claim. You have the right to claim compensation for any damages resulting from the sexual harassment you experienced. A few avenues of compensation include lost wages and benefits from a wrongful termination, medical expenses for psychiatric treatment you sought in response to the harassment you experienced, and your legal fees, in many cases. Ultimately, the recovery from a successful sexual harassment claim can be substantial and also prevent other employees from experiencing similar situations in the future.

How do I file a sexual harassment claim?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of the United States has the responsibility of overseeing the employment standards throughout the country and fielding reports of sexual harassment and discrimination in US workplaces. The first step in pursuing a civil claim for sexual harassment in the workplace is to file a claim with the EEOC. Your Orange County sexual harassment attorney can assist you with the claims process, and the EEOC will review your claim to determine whether you have grounds for legal action. If approved, you will receive a Notice of Right to Sue that allows you and your attorney to initiate legal proceedings against your employer.

We Provide Free, Confidential Consultations

This list of questions is basic. Each situation is different and requires personalized attention. No one should have to endure sexual harassment in the workplace of any kind. When internal company policies have failed to put a stop to the harassment you’re experiencing at work, swift legal action is necessary. The California Employment Counsel, APC, is here to help you.

We offer free consultations: you can receive our individual attention by calling our Costa Mesa office at (714) 462-8376, or by sending us an online message. We serve clients throughout Orange County and the surrounding area.

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