Same-Sex Sexual Harassment

While stereotypical sexual harassment involves the sexual advances, suggestions, or physical abuse from a co-worker or manager of the opposite sex, same-sex sexual harassment also violates federal and state laws, and as well as most company policies.

If you have experienced same-sex sexual harassment in the workplace, it is important that you understand your legal rights and consult with an advocate who can help you feel empowered to ensure those rights are protected.

What conduct constitutes same-sex harassment?

It is important to note that sexual harassment in same-sex sexual discrimination cases includes the exact same standards as those of opposite-sex sexual discrimination. Sexual discrimination and harassment can include any of the following:

  • Any unwelcome physical touching or contact
  • Sexual advances, including verbal offers or requests
  • Displaying any sexually suggestive pictures via electronic means or in the workplace
  • Sexually suggestive text messages, email, or postings on any social media platform, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
  • Sexually suggestive comments directed at either at you or around you

Research suggests that same-sex sexual harassment is vastly underreported by those who have experienced it. Unfortunately, many victims are fearful that their claims will be difficult to prove or that no one will believe them, because it involves same-sex sexual discrimination. Other times, victims may worry if they themselves are somehow to blame for the unwanted sexual harassment. Even if they do file a report, victims may fear what other co-workers will say about them, or if management will retaliate against them for filing a grievance. Embarrassment and shame are common companions to filing workplace claims for same-sex sexual harassment.

All too often, these victims’ fears are proven accurate and well-founded. Research has proven that company management does oftentimes ignore or diminish such same-sex sexual harassment complaints.

What laws protect against same-sex harassment in the workplace?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has very specifically stated that same-sex sexual harassment is just as illegal as opposite-sex sexual harassment and indicates clearly that, “…both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.”

The EEOC’s position regarding same-sex sexual harassment was examined by the highest court in the United States and concluded with complete agreement. The United States Supreme Court determined that sexual harassment from someone of the same sex is absolutely illegal. 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)).

At California Employment Counsel, APC, we know that bringing a same-sex sexual harassment suit can be challenging and frightening. We also know you have the right to a safe workplace, free from sexual advances, obscene actions, and any other form of sexual harassment. If your grievance regarding same-sex sexual harassment has been met with opposition from your employer, or worse, if you have been threatened with retaliation due to your complaint, contact us immediately. Our experienced lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss your same-sex sexual harassment claim. Contact us online or call (714) 462-8376 to discuss your legal rights today.

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